Session 1 E

Circle Process Innovations: Ombuds Tools for Evolved Facilitation, Mediation, & Inclusive Institutional Policy

Time: Monday 11:00 AM – 12:10 PM

Presenter(s): Andrea Pacheco, Program Director, Six Rivers Dispute Resolution Center; Robert Harper JD, MA, MA, Executive Director, Seventh Sovereign LLC; David Noganosh, Associate Ombuds, Anishinabek Nation Tribunal Commission/Red Wolf Mediation  Learn more about these presenters by visiting the presenter page.

Level: Established


Today’s ombuds serve institutions facing increasing stakeholder demands for cultural awareness about Indigenous people and issues. Expectations of equity, justice, and authentic diversity are constant pressures for leaders and decision-makers looking to ombuds for options. The most common needs arise in facilitation, mediation, and inclusive institutional policy development. Here, shifting cultural norms and organizational imperatives require more versatile tools. Fortunately, the answers are thousands of years in the making. Today’s ombuds must harness the restorative power of Indigenous Circle Processes (CPs) to help organizations evolve in facilitation, mediation, and inclusive policy. A parent to the narrative mediation and restorative justice progeny, CPs offer time-tested conflict management tools widely used among North America’s Indigenous people. But how can ombuds adapt CP principles in today’s organizational setting? This 70-minute topical presentation describes how. Three leading experts discuss CPs, their transformative capacity for institutions, and concrete takeaways for ombuds. They draw from restorative justice and interest-based facilitation and mediation models, speaking to ombuds at all levels. The presentation summarizes CP history, use, components, and restorative healing capacity. It highlights how CPs encourage healthy, productive conflict styles maximizing restorative capacity within organizations. CPs dramatically enhance the foundations of principled mediation commonly used by today’s ombuds. CPs deepen conflicting parties’ understanding of one another, enhancing the interest-focused phases of principled facilitation and mediation. The presentation culminates in guided discussion about integrating CP principles into facilitation, mediation, and inclusive institutional policy.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn the Indigenous history, role, components, and restorative capacity of Circle Process (CP).
  2. Identify how CPs encourage specific productive conflict styles and enhance the principled/interest-based process.
  3. Apply specific CP components to three common ombuds challenges: facilitation, mediation, and inclusive institutional policy.
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