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Expert in Mediation Joins UW Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources

June 14, 2011
Elizabeth Spaulding

The Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming has hired a new public policy mediator and facilitator for its collaborative process program.

Elizabeth Spaulding will serve as one of the institute's lead mediators, with a focus on bringing stakeholders in Wyoming together to solve problems related to natural resource decision making.

As public policy mediator, Spaulding's role will be to engage citizens in productive dialogue and decision processes on critical issues related to natural resource management and environmental policy. Spaulding began her position June 1.

She will work closely with UW Spicer Chair in Collaborative Practice, Steve Smutko, a national expert in facilitation and negotiation and leader of the institute's collaborative process program.

"Elizabeth is trained in collaborative process design and facilitation," Smutko says. "The university and Wyoming will greatly benefit from her mediation knowledge and background, and we are pleased to welcome her to the Ruckelshaus Institute's team."

The Ruckelshaus Institute's Program in Collaborative Environmental Decisions supports stakeholders, policy makers and resource managers in making decisions about the future. The institute serves as a convener for contentious natural resource issues. In this capacity, the institute's mediators work to implement a strategic process that includes:

  • Combining scientific information, values, and decision support;
  • Developing effective, lasting solutions to environmental problems;
  • Convening stakeholders and representatives from private business and industry, public interest groups, landowners, and government; and
  • Exploring policy alternatives, management priorities, and future visions.

"Wyoming is a state with a wealth of natural resources, as well as a variety of interest groups," says Spaulding.  "It can be a challenge to determine just how to come together to reach consensus on what are often thorny issues related to the environment and natural resources.

"This is the work of the Ruckelshaus Institute, and I look forward to this important role in providing a forum for a productive dialogue resulting in recommendations for public policy decisions that are guided by good science and stakeholder participation."

Spaulding is from Eugene, Ore., where she served as lead facilitator for the city of Eugene's Spencer Butte Challenge Course. She holds a J.D./M.S. in conflict and dispute resolution from the University of Oregon School of Law and a B.A. in journalism, also from Oregon. She has worked with Eugene Community Mediation Services, co-mediating community conflicts. She also served as a mediator in Lane County Small Claims Court. 

For information on the Ruckelshaus Institute's Program in Collaborative Environmental Decisions, go to the website at

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