An Interview with Anthony Keen-Louie, MC3 Director

Posted on February 10, 2023

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MC3: Anthony Keen-Louie, newly announced Director of MC3, congratulations on your appointment.  Perhaps we can start with you letting us know a little bit about your background and your introduction to MC3.

Anthony Keen-Louie

AK-L: Thank you and I’m happy to share a little of my history.  I’ve worked for a long time now on college campuses.  From the time I was undergrad myself at UC Riverside, I was an RA, a Resident Advisor, where I assisted students living in the residence halls and with the many issues that arise when students live in dorms (smiles). Upon graduation, that work with students led me directly into the world of student affairs and taking me to New York University NYU where I received a master’s degree in Student Affairs.

Not surprisingly, most of my professional life after NYU has been spent working at various educational institutions.  I first returned to CA and worked at UC Santa Barbara where I was a Resident Director and responsible for the general oversight of student life within a residential community.  After a few years, I returned to New York, once again, and took a position at Columbia University where I worked primarily in graduate student support.  And, after a few years in New York, there were some family issues that wound up pulling me back to Southern California, where I’ve been for the past 10+ years.

In 2011, I began working at San Diego State where I was involved in Residence Life and, in 2015 I began working at UC San Diego, where I was hired as a Director of Residence Life, supervising a team who oversaw the student life needs of one of the residential areas on campus, which gave me some great managerial and leadership experience.  Finally, my current student affairs role is supervising the professional and student staff team responsible for the student live initiatives of UCSD’s Graduate and Family Housing operation. Most universities don’t have a large graduate and family housing community, typically a couple of hundred people, if that.  But, UCSD has 5,500 such people currently, and is on track to become the largest housing operation in the country.

MC3:  That is a pretty large community.  So, how did all your work in academic settings lead you into the world of mediation?

AK-L: I’ve lived in this world for a long time now.  Actually, I first learned of mediation in seventh grade when I became a peer mediator, learning how to address issues like a friend not returning a CD (something I know is not familiar to any seventh graders today). Regarding my more recent career in student affairs, I joined a professional organization for people that do the Student Affairs work that I’m involved with called NASPA.  I’ve had leadership roles within NASPA and attended various continuing education opportunities. One of those was a Certificate Program/Training called Higher Education Law and Policy, which was sort of a crash course in Law School for non-lawyers, but it particularly focused on issues in higher ed.

My work at schools has been interesting and diverse and touches on so many different arenas, including program development, student conduct, crisis management and mentoring. It’s a lot of different responsibilities packed into one area, and it was, in fact, through this work where I developed so many skills that I later came to understand were, in fact, mediation-based skills.

There is, not surprisingly, a fair bit of conflict that exists on college campuses.  So much of my work with students touched on issues of dispute and the resolution of that dispute.  And one skill I began recognizing in myself was that I’ve become pretty effective at being a translator between worlds; from students to staff to faculty as well as to other constituent groups on campuses that work with, interact with and often disagree with, one another.

I wanted to explore different avenues where I could use and develop some of these dispute resolution tools.  I thought perhaps I might become a counsel for a university, I started learning about Ombuds positions and, although I’m abbreviating this career/thought process I’ve gone through, I came to a few conclusions.   The greatest of them was an understanding that, for now, I didn’t want to be a lawyer, I didn’t want to be a litigator or work in a courtroom.  But, at the same time, I absolutely wanted to become more skilled at facilitating the resolution of disputes.

And that led me to go back (once again) to grad school, at USC Gould School of Law, and receive my Masters in Dispute Resolution.  It’s taken me to this place where, for now, I feel like I’m running on two career tracks; One in a university setting where I continue to do the work I’ve been doing for over 15 years, and another where I’m pursuing work as a mediator.  What I really hope is that these two paths might converge as one, where I can bring my passion for, and understanding of, education and university settings together with my interests in and the skills I continue to develop in ADR.  I also work as a mediator and trainer for the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego and have done work for Educational Solutions 4 Change – in addition to some independent contracting mediation work.

MC3:  That sounds like a great convergence of your professional passions.  I’m guessing that it was at USC where MC3 first got on your radar?

AK-L: I took a class with Jack Goetz (President of MC3) and another with Jason Harper (former Board Member and VP of MC3) both of whom did a fantastic job of talking about MC3.  They’ve shared the reasons why they, and others, initially got involved in the organization and have worked to create and establish MC3.

It’s interesting because I come from a very different yet, in some ways, similar world where there’s not necessarily a ‘certification’ for working in student affairs but there are qualifications and there are other measurable steps that are involved in becoming an effective, responsible professional in that arena.   Certification for Mediators is an idea that I easily and naturally connected with.

MC3: I know that you’re new to MC3 but are there any bigger picture initiatives that you’d like to champion in your new position with the organization?

AK-L: Well, to start, I would share that I’m still absorbing a lot every day.  That said, I feel like we have a very good foundation, a really good product to underscore the seriousness of our mission.  That is a consequence of the hard work that has been done over the past few years and it has put MC3 in a position where we have something really good that we can offer to the mediation community and, by extension, to the public who utilize mediation services.

One thing that I’m working actively on right now is connecting with our education and training partners and being able to share what they’re doing with our certified mediators.  I think there are exciting opportunities on the education front, particularly in being more communicative and connected with schools or law schools that have that have MDR, or similar, programs.  I can speak to my own experience and how I look at the MC3 qualifications for certification as a more tangible roadmap for me as I work to establish myself as a mediator.

Along with strengthening our educational our educational initiatives, one of the things I really hope we can do is communicate the message of what MC3 is to other mediation organizations around the country. Although our initial growth has come from Southern California, a few years ago, there is a Virginia-based mediation organization – the Virginia Mediation Network – that was looking to do something very much like MC3 certification.  The then-president of VMN became aware of MC3, ultimately joined the organization as a Board Member and has further established an affiliation between VMN and MC3, that has allowed us to expand our reach in another part of the country.

I imagine there are mediation organizations like VMN, and like SCMA in Southern California, that exist in every state in the country.  And one of the things I hope to accomplish is to establish our presence and communicate our mission to those other organizations so that they’re aware of what MC3 has accomplished to date as well as how the MC3 standard can be a benchmark for mediation practice in their own communities and jurisdictions.

MC3: Any other observations you’ve made in the relatively short time that you’ve been in your new position?

AK-L:  I really want to recognize the MC3 Board and everybody that’s been involved in building the organization.  It’s not something that’s easy to do, staring an organization like this.  When I first saw the MC3 website, I thought that this is a very well-developed organization – and I thought it had been around for a longer period of time than it actually has – especially given our well-developed certification process.  That only happens when you have dedicated people working towards a goal and I’ve come to realize that, at MC3, it’s actually not a very large group.  It’s a small, relatively nimble group that figures things out.  MC3 has an active, involved Board where everybody has their own lives and is busy with their own professional and personal pursuits, but they’re committed to figuring things out, and dedicated to ensuring that the organization is growing and that the standard we’re all working towards becomes better understood and established.

I’ve become more directly involved with SCMA activities recently, and was able to present at the SCMA Annual Conference last fall.  I think that, to the extent that I’ve been able to become involved in both MC3 and SCMA, it has showed me how strong our community is here.

MC3:  Anthony, it sounds like you have a very full plate.  We wish you great success in your new job and thank you so much for taking a little time today.

AK-L:  There is absolutely a lot to do but I couldn’t be more pleased to be here and to begin the work.  Thank you.


In memory of Lynn Johnson

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Lynn Johnson

In Memory of Lynn JohnsonLynn Johnson served as the executive director and technology advisor for MC3 Mediator Certification, Inc. (“MC3”) from November 2019 until he passed away unexpectedly on the night of January 29, 2023. Lynn volunteered many years for several mediation organizations in California and Oregon, mediating hundreds of cases and completing over 150 hours of mediation training. Lynn transitioned to mediation after a career in statistics, research, computer technology, and consulting, looking for an application of his softer science skills. His mediation study and practice ranged from basic mediation to court-connected and community mediation to parent-and-teen and restorative-justice environments. He made a permanent, positive impact on the lives of the many people whose problems he mediated. As the executive director of MC3, Lynn helped create the applicant portal and put in place systems and processes that govern MC3’s day-to-day operations. He leaves big shoes to fill and a tremendous hole in the hearts of all of us at MC3. We have all benefited from knowing him and will miss him dearly.

Online Memorial

MC3 Remembrances

Jack Goetz, President:

“Lynn was humble beyond belief and an extraordinary person. He cared so much for those in need, and that was part of his impetus to be a mediator. He was exceptionally talented and was a key consultant and contributor for a number of organizations domestically and internationally. And those of you at MC3 know, all too well, what he did for us—we would not be here today without him.”

Henry Alfano, Vice President:

“Lynn’s passing is a terrible loss for MC3, the mediation profession, and for me personally. Lynn was passionate, devoted to MC3’s mission, and cared deeply for those in need of help. He and I would share tech stories while working on MC3 projects. Lynn’s dry sense of humor made conversations fun. My prayers go out to his family. I will miss our Tuesday calls, my friend. Rest in Peace. ”

Jamie Winning, Secretary:

“I was privileged to share a limited time with Lynn on his life’s journey and formed a bond where I was able to call him both colleague and friend.  I know I represent not one, but many who were influenced by Lynn’s kindness and attention to detail.  As a member of the MC3 board, we continue to see his selfless contributions to the organization and how he made our lives easy by structuring processes and procedures, setting a high standard for quality and attention to detail.  I miss him already.  My heart goes out to his family and close friends as they seek to fill a void that cannot be satisfied.  Sleep well my friend.”

Len Gross, Treasurer:

“I am terribly saddened, like everyone who knew and worked with Lynn. We worked together on projects aiding the mediation community, even prior to MC3. Lynn was a person of considerable talent and humanity who will be much missed. Our hearts go out to Lynn’s family at this painful time.”

Mariam Vartkis, Assistant Director:

“My heart is heavy, and I’m deeply saddened with the news of Lynn’s passing. I was honored to have worked closely with Lynn since early 2019 and grateful for the time shared with him, learning from him about life, his passion for mediation work and professionalism. He was a great human being with a big heart, wit, and a sense of humor. His presence will greatly be missed, but his hard work with MC3, efforts for the mediation field and endless support to everyone he worked with, will be carried on.”

Marvin Whistler, Board Member:

Lynn’s passing saddens me. I am happy to have known him.

Chris Welch, Qualifications Committee Chair and Board Member:

“Lynn was a true peacemaker. He was someone who had so much passion for the field that he dug himself deep into the weeds to see how he could help; how could he provide his own expertise to move the industry and the concept of mediation forward: the technology side, the practical side, the theoretical side. Lynn put in the work and pushed many of us in the industry further. He was a volunteer with the Center for Conflict Resolution before his involvement with MC3. As a mediator, Lynn was compassionate, considerate, professional, and effective. He could work with anyone in the community with the utmost respect and grace. As someone who runs a community based organization, I know that he was the perfect ‘community mediator’. This is a loss that will take time for me to personally process. Lynn meant a lot to me. A colleague and friend … May we all understand and recognize those peacemakers in our midst. May he rest in wonderful peace.”

Pam Struss, Board Member:

“Lynn was kind, patient, eager to help, and supportive. May he rest in peace.”

Victoria Gray, former Board Member:

“I met and worked with Lynn in the years when we were building MC3 before the launch and then in the years that followed. I found him to be tender-hearted, knowledgeable, and consistently helpful. He was responsible for the operational end of MC3 where his tech background was so helpful and important for the role he played. He spoke to most of the applicants guiding them individually through the MC3 certification process. We definitely will miss him.”

Adam Ravitch, Board Member:

“Lynn was a hardworking and committed executive director for MC3, but more importantly, he was a kind and caring person. After talking about MC3 business, our conversations would inevitably turn to our personal lives. He loved his family deeply and was committed to serving his community. I hope and pray that his loved ones might feel a measure of peace during this time of mourning by learning of the impact he had on the lives of so many, including me.”

Andy Reimer, Board Member:

“Lynn was a kind, smart, talented, thoughtful and patient man. His gentle nature and soft spoken manner didn’t immediately indicate his keen intelligence. However, Lynn’s wisdom and understanding of often quite complex matters alongside his generous character was evident in every encounter he and I had. His contributions to MC3 were enormous and I both enjoyed and benefitted greatly from the time we spent together. I will think of him often and will miss him greatly.”