Toward the end of 2016, CYS announced a double training cohort, VORS and FARS, over four consecutive weekends, and Ariella Morrison, an attorney working for One Justice, a local legal aid support center, was one of the first successful applicants.
Having been introduced to mediation in Michigan where she attended law school, Ariella knew immediately what she wanted to do. “I fell in love with conflict resolution!” she says.
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles to take the position with One Justice, she scoured the city, calling every organization involved in conflict resolution and speaking with mediators in private practice. That’s when she learned about CYS. Ariella’s first call to CYS’s volunteer coordinator was the last one in her search. “When I learned how the organization was using restorative justice mediation to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline,” she says, “I knew I’d found the place I was looking for.”
After successfully completing her 40-hour trainings, both of which culminated in several, challenging role-play scenarios, Ariella seized her first volunteer mediation opportunity. Like so many who are new to the co-facilitation format practiced by CYS, Ariella harbored the desire to conduct her own mediations, not really seeing the point of having two facilitators in the room. But from her very first live mediation, she was grateful to have a partner, both to calm her nerves and for the opportunity to learn so much from an experienced colleague. Learning which, she says, has never stopped.
When asked if she has a preference between VORS and FARS, Ariella is hard-pressed to choose. “I love them both,” she says, but admits a special place in her heart for FARS. “I value the opportunity to build and experience these short-term relationships, and to see the transformation unfold over several sessions.” Ariella’s interest in all forms of mediation is the driving force behind her desire to explore civic mediation, as well. While she is currently applying to handle mediation referrals from the Riverside County Court, her heart is still in her volunteer work at CYS. In fact, her new long-term professional goal, thanks to the experience and accomplishments over these past four years with CYS, is to work full-time in restorative justice.
Thank you, Ariella, for choosing CYS, and for your tireless efforts on behalf of justice-involved youth and grateful families in our community!