JoElla is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who was a member of the first Mediation Class offered by Six River’s Dispute Resolution Center and has been a supporter since! JoElla was a volunteer mediator for several years (including driving to Gresham monthly for more experience in small claims court), was acting director during Marti Dane’s maternity leave, and has been on the Board Of Directors for five years. JoElla is originally from Wisconsin and has been in The Gorge for 25 years. JoElla’s “First Love” and the specialization in her Master’s degree was juvenile justice and she spent several years working in the Richmond, Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court but has spent the remainder of her career working in the field of mental health from psychiatric hospitals, to college counselor, community mental health, Private Practice, and now Behavioral Health in Primary Care Clinics. JoElla is the mother of a beautiful college age child and is looking forward to the dream of retirement.
Richard L. Withers
“Dick” moved to Hood River with his wife Bonnie in 2016 upon retiring as Special Assistant to the City Attorney of the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a certified mediator. His interests include Restorative Justice and Civic Engagement. Dick currently volunteers at NORCOR and with several other local organizations.
Withers graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1976 and practiced with concentrations in civil rights, constitutional law, criminal defense and public health. During his career, he led research efforts into the epidemiology of firearm and other violent injuries with the Medical College of Wisconsin. Withers also coordinated state and national advocacy activities with Planned Parenthood to support reproductive health and freedom.
Withers’ passions include singing, bicycling, downhill skiing and, of course, the mission of Six Rivers to encourage listening, communication, dialog and citizenship.
Laurie Macdonald, MS
Laurie has extensive experience working with a variety of non-profit organizations in the conservation, mediation, historic preservation and other fields. She has been a community mediator with Six Rivers since 2017. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Oregon (1974), MS in Zoology from the University of South Florida (1986), and mediation certification in 2017. Laurie was Florida Director for the national nonprofit organization Defenders of Wildlife – combining science and advocacy to work for the protection of biological diversity, endangered species, wildlife habitat, and a network of land and water natural resources. She has served on a number of commissions composed of people with diverse perspectives from the private, public and governmental sectors, and has testified twice before US congressional committees. She is currently the board chair of Six Rivers.
Ruth Berkowitz, JD
Ruth has been mediating in the Gorge since 2003, working privately, volunteering for Six Rivers, and serving as a mediator for the court system. After graduating from UC Davis Law School (1991), Ruth clerked for a judge in Alaska and then worked for a law firm in San Francisco. The case she is most proud of involved representing the National Organization for Women, in a Title IX lawsuit against all 19 campuses of the California State University for cutting women’s teams. Ruth also litigated some of the famous and tragic cases involving sexual abuse of altar boys in the San Francisco Diocese. Becoming a mother shifted Ruth’s urge to litigate and when she moved to Hood River in 2001, she focused on mediation rather than litigation. When not problem-solving, Ruth loves to kid around the Gorge and jump on her bike, hike with her dog Stormy, ski in the mountains, or write stories for The Gorge Magazine. She co-authored all three of the Kidding Around the Gorge Books — The Hood River Area’s Ultimate Guide for Family Fun. Ruth recently joined the 6-Rivers Board and is thrilled with the opportunity to promote mediation in our community.
Bill Lennox was raised in Venezuela and in 1960 moved to Washington D.C. where he was influenced by the strong activism of the civil rights movement and his own Quaker family background. His intercultural/bilingual experience and family’s involvement with humanitarian efforts developed Bill’s personal commitment to social justice concerns.
After studying in New York and Philadelphia Bill moved to Portland and began work with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office resolving neighbourhood disputes. It was during this time when he had a profound personal experience and recognized the power of the mediation process as an important tool for resolving conflict.
With an opportunity to move out of the city, he was offered a position with the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office where he received specialized training in conflict resolution and crisis intervention through the University of Virginia and Willamette University. Bill spent many years as a child abuse/major crimes investigator and as the Chief Deputy used mediation as an underlying process in an effort to deescalate conflicts outside and within the workplace.
In 2003 Bill received an opportunity to work overseas with the United Nations through the US State Department. In that capacity he worked with the resettlement of refugees and in mentoring Kosovo Police in the investigation of human trafficking and family abuse. He worked with a diverse international contingent represented by over 40 countries and helped facilitate communication training in resolving intercultural disputes.
After returning to Oregon he was elected and served as Wasco County Commissioner from 2007 through 2011 and is still active on government and non–profit boards.
Bill has been involved with Six Rivers Dispute Resolution Center since its inception and continues to volunteer as a mediator.
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