Mediator Jamal Epperson is one of the younger members of the CYS volunteer team and joined CYS for the chance “to facilitate communication and see family relationships improve over time.”
Currently working on a doctorate in Organization and Leadership, and as a resident director at Loyola Marymount University, Jamal has plentiful experience settling disputes by conducting mediations. With an interest in equitable access to justice, Jamal also serves on Loyola Marymount’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. “Restorative justice,” Jamal notes, “brings new hope to a judicial system traditionally based on racist ideas, on setting up folks for failure.”
Jamal sees CYS programs as an extension of that positive transformation. “VORS Mediation,” Mx. Epperson says, “gives folks a second chance as they see and feel the impact their actions can have on others. As a community, it takes us from the position of How can we punish kids? to How can we make a healing impact on our communities?”
Jamal’s observations inspire CYS clients and Mx. Epperson’s co-mediators alike. Jamal’s contributions to CYS include identification with young clients and bringing relevant cultural experience to the table. Jamal recalls one moment from a recent FARS mediation in which, after multiple sessions, a young teen finally turned to his grandmother and said, “I love that you love me unconditionally.” There was a special triumph in that moment for Jamal. “I saw a lot of myself in that boy as my own mom had passed recently.”
Building bridges between family members and mediating parties can change worlds, and Jamal’s passionate commitment to that process is a wonderful example for us all.