TMCA's Outstanding Credentialed Mediator Award

Ross W. Stoddard, III
TMCA’s Outstanding Credentialed Mediator for 2018


Kay Elkins-Elliott
TMCA’s Outstanding Credentialed Mediator for 2017

At the Annual TMCA Symposium in Fort Worth on October 28th, the TMCA Outstanding Credentialed Mediator Award for 2017 was presented to Kay Elkins-Elliott, J.D., LL.M., M.A.

Over the past 30 years, Kay has contributed in monumental and substantively-essential ways to shape the growth and inclusion of mediation in the legal profession and in society in general. From her position on the faculty of DFW School of Law, then Texas Wesleyan Law School − now Texas A&M Law School − she has been a powerful, positive influence for thousands of law students regarding the use of alternative methods to resolve conflict. Kay’s students now populate bar associations nationwide, and their practices, leadership, and influence continue to expand and extend the positive lessons learned from her regarding the use and benefits of ADR in general, and particularly in mediation.

Kay’s resume reflects an impressive list of accomplishments and contributions that have characterized her leadership and service in both the educational and professional ADR communities. She began arbitrating in 1975, was trained in mediation in 1980, and was active in providing ADR services throughout the 80’s. In 1990, when the current ADR movement had its beginning with the Dallas Bar Association and the Dallas judiciary, Kay availed herself of every training opportunity locally and with Harvard University School of Law, Ohio State University School of Law, and many others to the extent that she has "racked up" over 900 hours of basic and advanced training in mediation, negotiation, arbitration, collaborative law, facilitation, and conflict management.

In academia, her positions on the faculty of Texas Wesleyan School of Law, and its current iteration as Texas A&M School of Law, have been the perfect opportunities for Kay to distinguish herself as a teacher and trainer of the skills she has applied so effectively in her practice as an ADR professional. The regular success of her interscholastic mediation and negotiation teams in the national and international competitive arenas has garnered her an international reputation as a leader in the field of mediation and negotiation. As coach, Kay’s teams have won two national ABA negotiation competitions and multiple regional competitions. She also coached the Texas A&M National Champion Representation-in­Mediation Team and served as a judge for the 2015 International Law Student Negotiation Competition in Dublin, Ireland. In addition, her published works are valuable contributions to the literature essential to the education and practice of ADR professionals everywhere.

Kay has served on numerous boards and committees whose functions and purposes are the support and continued development of mediation, including The State Bar of Texas, American Bar Association, Texas Association of Mediators, Texas Mediation Trainers Roundtable, and many more, including having served as a board member of TMCA. Kay has been named a Texas Super Lawyer in multiple years and is a member of the highly selective Academy of Distinguished Neutrals.

A true giant in the field of ADR and mediation, TMCA is pleased to honor Kay Elkins-Elliott with this award. 


Frank G. Evans

TMCA’s Outstanding Credentialed Mediator for 2016

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The year is 1978. Picture yourself then…38 years ago. Where were you? What were you doing? Nearly four decades ago, did you even know what mediation was? Could you possibly have even imagined, then, that 38 years later you would be a mediator? Could you possibly have comprehended the role mediation would play in Texas jurisprudence today? Could you have begun to fathom the role mediation would play today in education? In commerce? In health care? In virtually any field of human conflict?

Frank Evans could…and did. It was 38 years ago in 1978 that Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Joe Greenhill called upon Frank Evans to find ways to reduce congestion in the dockets of the trial and appellate courts of Texas. Chief Justice Greenhill had attended the Pound Conference two years earlier, and was impressed by the concept of the “multi-door courthouse” introduced there by Harvard law professor, Frank Sander. It provided alternatives to litigation for the resolution of disputes. He was also impressed by the U.S. Justice Department’s creation of neighborhood justice centers in Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Atlanta; and by the efforts of the American Bar Association to promote the use of mediation. Chief Justice Greenhill wanted Texas to join the vanguard in the establishment of ADR. He could have chosen anyone to lead the charge and, fortunately, he chose a man of incomparable vision and imagination: Frank Evans, then a Justice on the Houston First Court of Appeals.

It was Frank Evans who was created, and was the founding chair, of the Houston Bar Association’s Special Committee on ADR.

It was Frank Evans who got the Houston Bar Association and Harris County to create and fund the Houston Neighborhood Justice Center in 1980.

It was Frank Evans who got the Harris County DA’s office to refer citizen complaints for mediation.

It was Frank Evans, by then Houston’s First Court of Appeals Chief Justice, who played a role in the 1983 legislation that allowed counties to add $5 to the filing fee in civil cases to fund ADR systems in cooperation with their local bar associations.

It was Frank Evans, as the founding chair of the State Bar ADR Committee (now the ADR Section of the State Bar), who was involved in the introduction of legislation in 1985 promoting the expanded use of ADR.  

It was Frank Evans who, along with then UT law professor Edward F. Sherman and then State Senator Cynthia Taylor Krier, drafted and got the legislature passed what we now all know as the Texas ADR Act.

It was Frank Evans who established a system of ADR-inspired settlement conferences for Texas appellate courts.

It was Frank Evans who established a juvenile justice system of peer mediation in Texas elementary and secondary schools.

It was Frank Evans who used the Texas ADR experience to introduce ADR elsewhere in the U.S., Central and South America, and Europe.

It was Frank Evans who was the founding director of the South Texas College of Law’s Center for Legal Responsibility, now known as the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution.

And that just takes us to the end of the last century! Since then, Justice Frank Evans has taken from imagination to fruition countless other applications for ADR. He has excited, involved, mentored, encouraged, taught, inspired, and touched the lives of everyone assembled here today, or involved in mediation in Texas.

No person in Texas has done more to advance the cause of ADR in general, and mediation in particular, than Frank Evans.

It is, therefore, altogether fitting and proper that we used the occasion of the first TMCA Symposium held in Houston to honor one of Houston’s favorite sons, and the renowned father of ADR in Texas, Frank G. Evans, as TMCA’s 2016 Outstanding Credentialed Mediator.


Suzanne M. Duvall Named
TMCA’S Outstanding Credentialed Mediator for 2015

At its annual symposium in Austin last October TMCA named Suzanne M. Duvall its Outstanding Credentialed Mediator of the Year for 2015. This is the first such award given by TMCA in its 15-year history. The award will become a regular part of the TMCA's yearly symposium and will honor outstanding credentialed mediators who have distinguished themselves in the mediation profession.

Among the many pioneering roles she has filled in Texas and national mediation organizations, Suzanne was a cofounder of the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association. As President of the ADR Section of the State Bar of Texas in 1996, Suzanne and 24 other mediation professionals were appointed to serve on the newly-created Texas Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Court-Annexed Mediations. The mission of the committee was to determine whether or not ethical standards could be established for mediators and if criteria for certification of mediators in Texas could be created. In 1998, the committee produced ethical guidelines for mediators which were approved and adopted by the Texas Supreme Court in 2005.

Following the work of the Advisory Committee and its report to the Texas Supreme Court, the ADR Section of the State Bar of Texas undertook to determine whether there was support within the mediation profession for a credentialing process. All of the mediation organizations and associations were invited to provide input through representatives to serve on the newly-created Texas Mediator Credentialing Committee (TMCC) and Suzanne was appointed to chair that committee. Under her leadership, TMCC created the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association (TMCA) in 2001 and Suzanne was named chairperson of its initial Board of Directors. Subsequently, she served as board representative of the State Bar’s ADR Section and currently serves as the Trainers Representative.

Ms. Duvall has received numerous awards for her mediation skills, leadership and service to the mediation profession including the Frank G. Evans Award given by the State Bar of Texas ADR Section for outstanding leadership in the field of dispute resolution, the first-ever American Arbitration Association Brutsche Award for Professional Excellence in Dispute Resolution, the Texas Association of Mediators Susanne Adams Award for Outstanding Commitment and Dedication to the Mediation Profession, and the Association of Attorney Mediators Pro Bono Service Award. She is the 2016 recipient of the Association of Attorney Mediators Steve Brutsche Award, the highest award given by this national organization.

Suzanne’s leadership and service in the ADR field has included positions with the State Bar of Texas (former Member Board of Directors, Past Chair – ADR Section, Vice-Chair Professionalism Committee), Dallas Bar Association (Past Chair – ADR Section), Texas Mediator Credentialing Association (Founding Member, Past President, Current Board Member), Association of Attorney-Mediators (Past National Chair), Texas Association of Mediators (Past President, Current Board Member), Life Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow, Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution, UT School of Law (Master), Annette Stewart American Inn of Court. In addition to all of her other activities, Suzanne is the editor of the “Ethical Puzzler” column in the State Bar ADR Section newsletter—a position she has held for the past 14 years.

Suzanne is a Dallas-based attorney-mediator who is affiliated with Burdin Mediations and mediates in Texas and across the country. She has been a full-time mediator for over 20 years and has mediated over 3,000 cases in all areas of civil disputes. She is also an experienced arbitrator and trainer in mediation.