Gail Packer (left) was hired in 1988 as the Executive Director of the Community Dispute Settlement Center. Packer and Mimi Grosser (right), a volunteer at the time, have worked closely for 27 years, building a strong working relationship and helping thousands of people resolve conflicts in Cambridge and beyond.
The Picture of Dedication: 27 Years Later
In 1987, Mimi Grosser’s idea of “retirement” was to learn more about something new: the emerging field of conflict resolution. At the time, Grosser was retiring from a distinguished career as a teacher at Newton North High School. After twenty years of teaching history, Grosser wanted to know more about how people resolve conflicts peacefully and collaboratively: she was drawn to learn more about community mediation.
Grosser, a long-time Cambridge resident, found her way to the Community Dispute Settlement Center (CDSC), then a program of the Cambridgeport Problem Center. She enrolled in a 30-hour Mediation Training with the intention of doing volunteer work in her retirement. She wound up staying at CDSC for 27 years.
Grosser has personally handled thousands of calls from people caught up in conflict and played a variety of important roles in the organization. She has skillfully introduced people to the process of mediation, scheduled affordable mediation sessions for them, and conducted follow-up interviews to solicit feedback about their mediation experience. She has also volunteered as a mediator, helping disputants to hear each other out, to understand each other better and more often than not, to reach a joint solution to their conflicts.
CDSC’s model of community mediation is designed to be an affordable alternative to the legal system: community mediation brings people in conflict together with trained pro bono professional mediators who help them find ways to settle their disagreements constructively. CDSC provides affordable mediation services for a wide range of people in conflict including parents in disagreement over custody arrangements, neighbors in dispute over noise issues and landlords and tenants in dispute over rental arrangements.
In the course of Grosser’s 27-year tenure, CDSC has conducted 6,361 mediations and trained more than one thousand mediators. Grosser announced her “retirement” from CDSC effective December 31, 2014 and she has promised to provide advice and consulting services when needed.
To recognize the outstanding service of CDSC’s cadre of volunteer mediators, the Mimi Grosser Scholarship Fund was established in Grosser’s honor in 2013. The fund provides scholarship support for deserving participants of CDSC training and professional development programs.
Approaching 90 years of age, Grosser still demonstrates the skills that made her an invaluable member of the CDSC team. According to Gail Packer, CDSC Executive Director since 1988, Grosser “is a great listener, a persuasive ambassador for mediation and an impeccable record-keeper. She is also the ‘go-to’ editor for grammar and punctuation for CDSC’s communications.” Grosser helped design the original CDSC case management system and until recently managed the client database, producing all of CDSC’s statistical reports.
In her career as a teacher, Grosser was a pioneer in the progressive alternative program at Newton North known as Murray Road. According to Grosser, many of her Murray Road alumni are still in touch with her 30 years later.
When not at CDSC, Mimi can be found reading for her book groups, playing Scrabble, visiting with her granddaughters and great-grandsons, or heading to Craftsbury, Vermont, her favorite destination in the Northern Kingdom.
Click here to read more about The Mimi Grosser Scholarship Fund
CDSC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1979.
To learn more about mediation and training opportunities,
or to make a gift to the Mimi Grosser Scholarship Fund
please visit www.communitydispute.org.