Adoption Specialist Honored 6/25/15 06/25/15 9:56:45 AM
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Ron Volkmer, Creighton University Law professor, presents Kerri Davis with the Practitioner Award named after him.
Adoption Specialist Honored for Creating
‘Pathways of Constructive Dialogue’
Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record
Friday was a “Red Letter Day” for Kerri Davis, adoption/permanency specialist with Nebraska Family Collaborative. Not only did she receive the Concord Mediation Center’s Ron Volkmer Practitioner Award, which is presented to those who “create pathways of constructive dialogue and conflict resolution through consensus building activities of mediation, facilitation and education,” but she also announced her engagement to Danny Yosten.
“We got engaged on May 9, and are getting married on May 20 [next year] in Jamaica,” she said.
Born in North Platte, Davis graduated from high school in Plattsmouth. It was an internship at Royal Family Kids, the nation’s leading network of camps and mentor clubs for children of abuse, abandonment and neglect, that set her on her career path.
“Just seeing what those children went through made me know this is what I was called to do in life and where my heart is,” she said. “I also did Big Brothers and Big Sisters in college.”
She earned a bachelor of science degree in family studies from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2007, and immediately found employment in the human services field. In 2008, she began her career working as an adoption specialist. Since then, she has assisted in helping nearly 1,000 children achieve permanency through adoption in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.
From left, Heidi and Jeff Wilke accept the Pathways Award from Concord Mediation Center Board member Cindy Ellis, M.D.
When presenting Davis with her award, Lori McKeon, child welfare facilitation coordinator at the Concord Mediation Center and last year’s Ron Volkmer Practitioner Award recipient, explained that she was “excited” to give Davis the award, because she comes with a “smile, is passionate and articulate, and makes sure that every question is answered. She makes our job effective and more meaningful.”
In her position, Davis said that she answers questions and talks to clients about the process of adoption – what it looks like, and what the future holds. Although her job can be tough, she said, “it’s rewarding, knowing you are making a difference. I try to keep positive. Even though you might not think you are making an impact, you are.”
Davis is clearly making a difference at Nebraska Families Collaborative. She has, for three consecutive years, been given the organization’s Star Award for “her dedication and work with children and families.”
Wanting to advance in her field, Davis is earning a master’s degree in public administration through Bellevue University, with an expected graduation of January 2016.
Heidi and Jeff Wilke, founders of The Heidi Wilke SANE/SART Survivor Program at Methodist Hospital, were also honored during the Concord Mediation Center’s Pathways Award Luncheon on Friday at the Omaha Field Club.
They were given the Pathways Award, which “honors those who have courageously opened their minds and hearts to processes of conflict resolution, involving healing, forgiveness, empathy, open communication and/or the ability to bring disparate communities together for the betterment of all.”
In 2002, Heidi was robbed at gunpoint, kidnapped and raped. In the aftermath, she saw her rapist convicted. Last year’s recipient of this award was Fred Wilson, a Von Maur shooting survivor.
The Ron Volkmer Practitioner Award is named for Ronald R. Volkmer, the Frank J. Kellegher Professor of Trusts and Estates at Creighton University School of Law. Active in promoting mediation since the early 1990s, he has been on the Concord Mediation Center’s board of directors since its founding in 1999. “He received the award the first year,” said Mary Beth Kriskey, senior writer at Concord Mediation Center.
“It is a great honor to be up here again,” Volkmer said at the event. “I didn’t practice mediation or conflict resolution, but I helped to develop a structure for those people who do. Reflecting on my study on conflict resolution, one thing I learned is that you have to keep it simple and focus on preventing, resolving and containing it. Persons in the field enter the murky world of disputes. I’m here to acknowledge those who do the heavy lifting.”
This was the third year that the non-profit organization – the only one in Douglas and Sarpy Counties – has held its luncheon, and every year attendance has grown, Kriskey said. “We had about 100 our first year, 120 the next year and we were anticipating about 140 people to attend this year,” Kriskey said. “As people learn about us, it grows. Our future goal is to bring in a keynote speaker. We can use it as a learning experience, and [those attending] could earn continuing education credits.”
The Concord Mediation Center is at 4225 North 90th Street. For more information, call 402-345-1131 or go to www.concordmediationcenter.com.