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<xTITLE>City Commissioner Commends ISCT Staff Member for Work on Police Reform Initiative</xTITLE>

City Commissioner Commends ISCT Staff Member for Work on Police Reform Initiative

by Lydia Vanderkaay, Dan Simon
June 2021

It is no exaggeration to say that the success of the Working Group in coming up with three sets of nearly unanimously-accepted reform recommendations was a direct result of her outreach, her listening and other relationship skills, and her tact.

So said Dayton City Commissioner, Matt Joseph, about Lydia Vanderkaay, ISCT Assistant Coordinator and Mediation Specialist for the Dayton Mediation Center. He said so in a letter to Vanderkaay’s boss at the Dayton Mediation Center, Michelle Zaremba. The Mayor of Dayton and other top city officials were copied on the letter as well.

Vanderkaay participated in the city’s Oversight Working Group’s efforts to create Police Oversight Recommendations.  She took on a variety of roles in that process. Commissioner Joseph praised all of her efforts, and described some of her contributions as follows:

Her primary role, however, was to ensure that in this turbulent time, we were able to carry-out an open and honest dialogue on very difficult subjects. She absolutely shined in this task and carried out the responsibilities of this role with thoughtful determination. She engaged, in private discussion, members of the Working Group who appeared to be reluctant to participate, or may have felt offended. She made countless calls to those who were having difficulties, whether they be material or personal, to see if she could help them get back into the process and re-engage in the discussion. In the course of these activities, she became the most trusted person in our Working Group, making her extremely valuable to me, and vital to the success of the Working Group. Due to the trust she built as the months went by, members of the group would call or email her about concerns they were having, or suggestions they wanted to bring up.

To Zaremba, Commissioner Joseph added, “I wanted to make sure you were aware of her excellent performance and the exceedingly positive way her performance reflects upon you and the Mediation Center. “

Zaremba also praised the work of four additional Dayton Mediation Center staff members, Janet Mueller, Aaron Primm, Arch Grieve, and Cheryl Alderman, who also served as facilitators for the project.  Zaremba said:

This is the first time our city leadership has experienced Transformative Dialogue first-hand and now they have a better understanding of this work at the Dayton Mediation Center.  I know much of our work is done privately in mediation rooms or with groups and we rarely get this level of public acknowledgement so I thought it was important to share!

See a video here about the Police Reform process that Lydia Vanderkaay and her colleagues worked on.


Lydia Vanderkaay, MA began as a volunteer mediator at the Center in 2017, and started as a Mediation Specialist Contractor later that year. She currently helps manage the Adult Victim/Offender program. In addition to this, Lydia works as the Assistant Coordinator at the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation, whose offices are located within the Center.  As a lifelong Dayton resident, she is happy to serve the community through her work at the Center. Lydia earned her undergraduate degree from Antioch University McGregor in Humanities, and an Individualized Master of Arts, also from Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Dan Simon writes the blog for the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation. He is a national leader in the field of transformative mediation.  He practices and teaches it in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  He's trained mediators throughout the country for the U.S. Postal Service, the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation, and as an Adjunct Professor at the Hofstra University School of Law. He serves on the Minnesota Supreme Court's ADR Ethics Board, is the Immediate Past Chair of the Minnesota State Bar Association's ADR Section; and he serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation. He has been the director of Twin Cities Mediation since he founded it in 1998. He helps with divorces, parenting differences, real estate issues, employment cases, business disputes, and neighbor to neighbor conflicts.