Looking Beyond Ethnicity in Mediation

Leo Cardenas

Former CRS Mediator, Denver Office

[Full Interview]

Clearly, we had to work the ethnicity out of it first, then the stature of the organization, how long they'd been in existence, because they were non-profit and volunteer groups. We were also interested in the type of leadership that they brought to the table.

Q: You just said something very interesting, "You had to work the ethnicity out of it." How do you do that?

A: Very carefully. First of all, by trying to bring equity to the table in terms of numbers -- numbers of the organizations. And one of the things that happened here and it happened in other cities, is bringing back to the table individuals who did not currently have a title with the organization, but had held a title before and were highly respected. We asked them to come to the table and be sort of senior, elder spokespeople and bring unity, and that worked very well.

Q: Did you try to get equal numbers of each race, or did you try to do something proportionately?

A: I think proportionate to the organizations who actually signed to be members of the coalition.

Q: And this was open to anybody who wanted to be included?

A: Correct.