Mediation with Katherine Popaleni – by Rebecca Bartley


Career-conversations-logo“Conflict is like an iceberg; you only see the top, which is what you want to see, but underneath there are all these desires, needs, etc. that are hidden deep inside.”

Katherine Popaleni, a Qualified Mediator with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (ADRIO), was invited to campus by the Humanities Target Learning Centre (HTLC) this past January 24 to give a talk on her career as a Mediator.

Career Conversations are a way to bring professionals from different fields (particularly in areas related to the Humanities) to campus to meet with a small group of 15-20 students who would like to find out more about a particular career of their choice.

This was the second lecture in this term’s series, and focused on the growing field of mediation and conflict management. Katherine introduced the career as offering an outside perspective to a conflict between two parties –  helping to keep both parties in line and offer suggestions in order to find a resolution to their conflict.

“I choose this career because I started facilitating conferences between two parties who were in a dispute. Seeing the resolution to this dispute was so rewarding to me. So I decided to continue on this path,” explained Katherine.

Katherine has worked with many different areas of conflict, from disputes between neighbours, to workplace and employee conflicts. “We don’t necessarily think of the other person and what their reasons are for doing something. We’re selfish by human nature,” explains Katherine. “As a mediator, we try to help by explaining human interactions to others so that they know this information in order to avoid conflict in the future.”

As the talk progressed, Katherine’s passion for mediation showed and intrigued various students in the audience to ask questions about a career. “Mediation can apply to so many different fields and workplaces, that’s the beauty of this job!” answered Katherine to the question surrounding the pros of working in Mediation. Some examples she gave were working with religious organizations, unions, insurance agencies, and family group conferencing.

So, according to Katherine, what can a student do to pursue a career in mediation? “Look to further educate yourself with programs surrounding the areas of conflict management and dispute resolution. You should also look into volunteering at places such as the Community Justice Initiatives (in Kitchener, ON) or St. Stephen’s Community House (in Toronto, ON), both are which reputable companies,” she suggests.

McMaster University actually offers a course surrounding the area of conflict resolution. PEACE STUDIES 2A03, “Conflict Transformation: Theory and Practice,” examines ways of preventing and resolving the everyday conflicts in our lives. This course is open to any student registered in Level II or above.

For any student who would like further information in the field of mediation, please check out this website: http://www.canlaw.com/mediator/whatismediation.htm

The Career Conversations series continues in February, with many other career professionals visiting campus to share with eager students.  Upcoming Career Conversations include:

  • Lawyer – Tuesday, February 26 @ 2.30pm with Michelle Ballagh
  • Editor – Thursday, February 28 @ 2.30pm, with Nathan Medcalf
  • Human Resources – Monday, March 4 @ 10.30am, with Minoo Kianizad
  • Real Estate Broker – Tuesday, March 5 @ 2.30pm, with Luke O’Reilly
  • Theatre Director and Actor – Tuesday, March 5 @ 3.30pm, with Trevor Copp
  • Bereavement Counsellor – Wednesday, March 6 @ 1.30pm, with Bev Wilson
  • Arts Council Executive Director – Wednesday, March 13 @ 3.30pm, with Stephanie Vegh
  • Music Therapist – Thursday, March 21 @ 1.30pm, with Rachel Finnerty

Spots are limited to 15-20 students, so make sure to either register on OSCARplus or email htlc@mcmaster.ca in order to reserve your seat!