Alexandria Skinner, J.D.
My passion is to use my legal training, skill as a mediator, professional training in ethics, and mature perspective on life to help divorcing couples, families, church families, and closely held businesses address challenging conflict in ways that are healing, holistic, and are realistic.
Unlike traditional methods of addressing conflict which seek to “resolve” conflict by coming up with and applying band-aid “solution” from the top down, my goal will be to uncover all the interests leading to the conflict and to guide a process through which divorcing couples, families, and groups find their own solutions that reflect their own values and which address the root causes of conflict. Most parties find that working through conflict with help of a mediator helps them improve their relationship, improve the quality of communication, gain better understanding of key needs and issues, and forge agreements which meet those needs. The integrity and depth of this process results in agreements which meet the needs of the parties and which will be more likely to stand the test of time.
As an IACP certified collaborative professional, I also have the capability to incorporate use of other professional experts in the mediation process. Some of these professionals include neutral accountants and financial experts, child psychologists and child specialists, vocational experts, appraisers, geriatric care managers for elder issues, tax or other subject matter attorney advisors, and individual therapists for times when an individual needs a bit of emotional support. These professionals help parties understand their options and reach their own conclusions. Reaching agreement this way results in excellent remedies which are authentic to the parties, not just a court ordered edict which may or may not reflect the most significant needs of the parties.
While mediation skill works on any conflict at any level, my calling is to help people in the affairs that are most personal to them and thus affect quality of life most deeply. While no conflict is “easy,” and some situations are very painful, my goal is to make things better, to improve quality of life and of outcome overall. I therefore focus on helping divorcing couples, extended families, family-run businesses, churches, and school IEP teams – all cases where people desire or need to remain in relationship and will, ideally, will seek to “tackle problems without tackling each other”.™
I add to my training and skill each year. At this time I have over 200 hours of training in mediation and conflict transformation. I first encountered, studied, and began applying principles from mediation in 1982, as taught by what was then the Christian Conciliation Service. This was shortly before I received my Juris Doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law, in 1983. After working as an attorney for many years (S.C. Court of Appeals, S.C. Attorney General, S.C. Budget and Control Board), I took my first formal 40 hour training in 1996. Since that time, I have also studied under nationally known mediators such as Zena Zumeta and Susan Butterwick (Elder Mediation), Carl Schneider (divorce mediation), Richard Blackburn (Congregational conflict transformation), and in South Carolina with Beth Padgett (Community mediation) and Cotton Harness (IEP mediation). My passion is justice in the larger sense. In 1997 – 1999, I spent two years studying philosophical ethics and epistemology at the graduate level, but without regret interrupted my studies to assume care for an elderly relative through her disability and terminal illness. This experience not only crystallized my thoughts concerning medical ethics (I am a believer in narrative and virtue based ethics and “follow” theologians such as Stanley Hauerwas, Reinhold Niebuhr, Miroslav Wolf, Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Frederick Beuchner ), but also helped deepen my commitment to help families find holistic solutions for transitions and conflict. My pursuit of mediation and non-adversarial law as a career is the result of my calling to help individuals and families achieve peace in their lives, families, and community.
Mark Buchan, M.A.
Mark first experienced the healing power of mediation as a participant in a mediation for a church congregation. This experience was so overwhelmingly positive for him and for the congregation he was leading that he decided to pursue training to be a mediator for church congregations.
Mark is a graduate of the Mediation Skills Training Institute of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and received his certification in 2003. Since then he has served as a faith-based mediator for churches on the congregational level, in situations calling for conflict transformation between individuals, and in multi-party disputes.
Mark Buchan is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and a minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Since his ordination in 1994 Mark has served parishes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and South Carolina, both as a called pastor and an interim pastor.
Since 2001 Mark has been a participant in the Advanced Clergy Clinic in Family Emotional Process, a seminar which applies Bowen Systems Theory to the management of conflict in communal settings such as congregations, businesses and families. In 2003 he became a consultant and began offering training and workshops in conflict transformation and the dynamics of emotional systems for church leaders and congregations.
Mark currently serves as a stated supply pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Johnston, SC and a volunteer at the Community Mediation Center in Columbia, SC. He lives in Columbia, with his spouse, Nancy, and their two children, Ross – 14, and Emi – 12.
Beth Padgett, M.A.
Beth Padgett has many years of experience as a professional civil and family mediator. For many years Beth served as Executive Director of the Community Mediation Center in Columbia, which serves families and community agencies on a sliding fee scale. At the present time, she works for the S.C. Bar and mediates in her off-hours.
Beth earned two degrees from the University of South Carolina: a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Masters of Education. She also earned a Master of Arts in Human Behavior and Conflict Management from Columbia College. Beth has a background in education, mental health and addiction treatment services, domestic violence counseling, as well as curriculum and program development in these disciplines.
Other mediators may be engaged by Just Mediation, LLC, in particular cases, with care to match up client needs with particular skills and personalities of the mediators. Every mediator associated with Just Mediation, LLC, will have the skill and training to mediate your case effectively and efficiently. With the exception of interns who may be working under supervision, each has an advanced degree related to his or her field of expertise as well as at least 100 hours of training in mediation and significant experience mediating cases. Additionally, mediators bring other skills to the table. We will put together whatever team is needed to make a mediation successful, including translators or mediators or experts with significant subject matter expertise when needed.