Jablow fellowship program celebrates 5 years training students in community mediation

Since 2016, the Ronna K. Jablow Mediation Fellowship has enabled University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law students to spend a summer working with Community Mediation Maryland (CMM), which provides free mediation services to help resolve neighborhood, family, business, school, and personal conflicts. The fellowship includes mediation training and opportunities to work on program development, research and writing, and direct mediation services.  

This year, as support for the program has grown, the fund was able to up the number of fellows from one to two, bringing the total of past student participants to six with a ripple of community impact throughout the state of Maryland. 

Eric Peterson ’23, one of the 2021 fellows, was grateful to be selected. “My experience with CMM was extremely valuable because I saw both the mediation table and what goes on behind the scenes,” said the 2L, who spent the summer mediating community conflicts and developing outreach strategies at community centers in Prince George’s and Washington counties. Peterson also credits the intensive mediation training course and practical experience with helping him build skills in neutrality. “Being aware of my attitudes has made me a better listener and more well-rounded person,” he said. “I think those are incredibly useful assets to have as I continue my legal journey.” 

The inaugural Jablow fellow Eric Mondesir ’18 had an equally rewarding experience. His work with Community Mediation Maryland focused on prisoner re-entry mediation both as a researcher and a practitioner. He brought incarcerated people together with family members to work through issues before their release. “I had the opportunity to see face-to-face the positive impact of community mediation on people’s lives,” said Mondesir. 

The fellowship was established in partnership with CMM in loving memory of Ronna K. Jablow, an attorney who dedicated her career to mediation. After practicing law, she became a community mediator and went on to become the director of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program at the Baltimore City Circuit Court. Under her leadership, ADR programs were strengthened and expanded. She also partnered with the Mediation Clinic at Maryland Carey Law, providing opportunities for law students to learn about court-based mediation. 

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor Deborah Eisenberg directs the law school’s Center for Dispute Resolution and Mediation Clinic out of which the fellowship is coordinated on the law school end. She lauds the fellowship for enriching opportunities for students and for honoring its namesake. “Like Ronna, the community fellows understand the important connection between communities and the law and justice, the importance of lawyers as problem solvers, and the power of mediation to help people solve their own conflicts well before, during, and after they are in the courts,” she said. “In a world with so much conflict and chaos these days, Ronna will continue to have an impact, making our communities and our legal systems more peaceful and more just.”  

The 2020 fellow Kayla Johnson ’21 agrees, touting Community Mediation Maryland’s collaboration with Maryland residents, churches, schools, prisons, police departments, and libraries. A fellow during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson saw and participated in how CMM adapted to continue providing mediation services in a remote environment. She updated mediation guides, helped create educational activity packets for families working through conflicts during lockdown, and facilitated online mediator training sessions.  

“This fellowship was truly a rewarding experience. I have no doubt the relationships I have formed with CMM will continue far into the future,” said Johnson, who served on the executive board of Maryland Carey Law’s ADR Team during law school. “The resiliency and adaptability displayed by everyone working through the uncertainty of COVID-19 and sensitivity of the social climate was truly inspiring and something I will carry into my career. 

At an event in October, past fellows, representatives from Community Mediation Maryland, the law school, and the Jablow family gathered online to celebrate the program’s fifth anniversary and to honor Ronna Jablow, in whose memory the program was created. At that time, administrators announced a renewed funding effort with the goal of consistently supporting two students each year, instead of just one. 

“The Ronna Jablow Fellowship is a great example of how energy, excitement, and expertise work together to create something very special,” said Dean Donald Tobin in his remarks. “We take great pride in carrying out Ronna’s legacy here at Maryland Carey Law.”  

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