MARY ANN ZAHA
Rule 31 Mediator
Mary Ann began her education in mediation in the Beaver State in the late 80’s, driven by her work experience with families in crisis. “Many parents seem to grow dependent on a legal system to tell them how to parent their children.”
She sought out every opportunity to learn more about mediation. While completing her master’s degree at Antioch University, she began a small practice serving organizations in conflict. She later spent a year in a practicum mediating in a court-connected family service program, mentored by dedicated therapists and attorneys. “It was here, under the guidance of theses dedicated individuals, I witnessed the power of mediation.”
Mary Ann moved to Chattanooga in 1995 with her husband and two sons and restarted her mediation practice. “The timing was right . . . Rule 31 came into effect in a pilot project in Hamilton County. Experienced and trained mediators were needed. Parent seminar providers were in demand. Thanks to my dedicated mentors who shared their time and expertise with me, I was able to provide both services.” Over the past 26 years, and over 3000 mediations later (she stopped counting), Mary Ann has become a go-to mediator for families and organizations in high conflict.
In 2010, the Supreme Court of Tennessee appointed her to serve on the Attorney Client Fund Commission and in 2013 she was appointed to serve on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission (ADRC), the organization that manages the requirements and listings of all Supreme Court listed mediators under Rule 31. 2019 is her last year to serve and she looks forward to serving her local community in other ways.
Mary Ann believes in the power of people to resolve their own differences and has successfully led people through the process of reaching their own resolution together either in concert with the courts or instead of going to court, depending on the circumstances. She has most recently introduced to the mediation community a form of mediation used in lieu of a parenting coordinator that she’s dubbed “Reconstructive Mediation,” which is conducted over time, with the goal of resolving differences so that relationship issues can be put to rest and co-working to raise the children or complete a job in the work force with fewer conflicts .
Mary Ann has found Chattanooga to be a stunning city full of music and rich diversity. She remembers fondly the blues at Bessie Smith back when that was a regular occurrence here in Chattanooga. These days, she gets her music fix at SongBirds, which she particularly enjoys as a small venue with great talent.
In an attempt to conquer a fear of heights she has hang glided and learned how to rock climb. She still harbors the fear. Now she also appreciates the natural beauty of rock and soft hills. “Tennessee has its own kind of beauty. I always will miss the west coast, but I have grown to appreciate the beauty here.”
Mary Ann provides mediation services, one-on-one communication classes for co-parents, conflict resolution tools, training, and reconstructive mediation. She will also be creating and teaching professional seminars on how to understand a clients’ emotional expression and how to conduct reconstructive mediation session in the near future.