On December 9, Barbara Davis died in her home. Barbara was a champion of mediation and collaborative law, a musician, a bicycle enthusiast, a mother, wife, sister and friend. Barbara was my teacher, mentor and officemate.
I want to tell you about how when I first moved to Asheville in 2004 and trained in mediation, I had to observe three mediators to become certified for Superior Court Mediated Settlement Conferences. I chose Barbara randomly from a list of certified local mediators because I liked her name. Barbara enthusiastically welcomed me into the fold of mediators. Not only did she allow me to observe her mediation, but she generously invited me to critique it afterwards so she could learn from me. At that time, I had no idea that she had founded The Mediation Center and was to many the “Godmother of Mediation” in this region. This chance interaction began a long, rich relationship between us, full of conversations about mediation spanning from theoretical, to logistical, to humorous.
I also want to tell you about how - when I served as Director of Mediation Services at the Center - I got to teach alongside her. I witnessed how she shared her knowledge and passion with newbies and always opened her heart and her mind to learn from them at the same time.
And then later, Barbara encouraged me to join her office when I left the Center and started my private practice. She accommodated my patchy schedule and limited income in order to allow me to grow my business organically. I witnessed her foster many other fledgling mediators in the seven years we shared an office, always taking the time to field their questions and inspire them to practice our trade. She believed that there was plenty of work for all of us and the more mediators there were, the more people would turn to mediation to resolve their conflicts.
"I aspire to emulate Barbara’s magnanimity, curiosity and mostly her kindness."
But mostly what I want you to know about Barbara, is that when asked, she declared her religion to be Kindness and she was a devout practitioner of this religion in her personal and professional life. Barbara treated everyone she met with warmth and tenderness. When a lawyer-colleague was struggling with a particularly difficult client, Barbara coached her to focus all of her love and compassion on that person. She never told me those words, but I witnessed it countless times and learned by her example.
Sarah Corley and I will remain in the office we shared with Barbara at 34 Wall Street and we are fortunate to have found a new, wonderful officemate, Robin Funston. We plan to continue Barbara’s tradition of making it a welcoming place for new mediators to practice, a living room for our peer support group, and a friendly environment for people experiencing conflict, divorce, or family disputes. I aspire to emulate Barbara’s magnanimity, curiosity and mostly her kindness.