Introducing CDR’s newest staff member, Emily Zmak

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CDR welcomed a new Program Associate, Emily Zmak, to the team in the Fall of 2018. Emily is a stakeholder engagement specialist with a diverse background in active- and post-conflict contexts. Influenced by her work in the West Bank and Kyrgyzstan, Emily believes that addressing communication barriers is the initial step towards finding collaborative solutions for natural resource disputes. She has experience in several sectors, including transboundary water agreements and, most recently, mining community participation plans. Emily holds an M.A. in Conflict Resolution and a B.A. in Communications.  

Outside of the office, Emily is an avid traveller, a rudimentary Russian speaker, an eager reader, an amateur painter, and an expert at burning dinner. Originally from British Columbia, Canada, she is always looking for new places to explore in Colorado–so feel free to reach out to her at with recommendations.

Guest Post: Facilitating Colorado’s Conservation Districts


Colorado’s rich natural resources are a great way to enjoy the state (think hiking, fishing, rafting and the like), but those natural resources also come with considerable planning. Especially Colorado’s most precious resource, water. With a growing population and changing landscape, managing water requires folks who are dedicated to keeping Colorado a great place to live while meeting the needs of the different water users. Enter Water Education Colorado’s (WEco) Water Leaders Class, the premier professional development course for the water community in Colorado.


Among the many skills and opportunities that Water Leader provides are ‘shadow assignments’, which is the chance to identify professionals in Colorado’s water community that you are interested in and want to learn from. In my role, I look at water through an agricultural lens, specifically with Conservation Districts in mind. Colorado’s 76 Conservation Districts were founded in 1937 on the principal of locally-led conservation, a principal on which they still operate today. This idea requires stakeholder engagement and collaboration, so a lot of what I do is assist District’s in gathering this stakeholder input and buy-in, so that the District knows what priorities and projects to focus on for the coming year. I kept this in mind as I was looking through the list of possible shadowees.

A few weeks later I found myself across the table from Jeffrey Range, a Program Manager with CDR Associates. I had chosen to shadow him because I was eager to learn about the perspective and experiences of a professional facilitator. The conversation was well timed, as I was going to be facilitating a local work group for a Conservation District out of Salida a few days later. The District Board of Supervisors, made up mostly of local agricultural producers, was working on their upcoming plan for the year and wanted to gather local stakeholder input regarding priorities and resource concerns. We talked about how important it is to focus each meeting on a particular stakeholder group, rather than trying to have one big meeting for all stakeholders. Jeffrey shared his experiences that illustrated how important it is to clarify the intention of the meeting and identify the common objective of the various stakeholders groups and focus on the commonality, not the differences.


I was able to put some of my new found skills to the test at the meeting I facilitated a few days later. I started by clearly stating the goals and objectives of the meeting and encouraged everyone’s participation by asking a few general questions first. When an attendee offered some feedback, I rephrased it in a way that benefited the discussion and invited others to elaborate.  Employing these new skills seemed to improve the focus of the participants on the topic at hand, and the discussion was collaborative and productive. I have compiled Jeffrey’s advice and am using it to build a new and improved method for facilitating the meetings, especially when Districts are faced with drawing in new stakeholders or trying to ease a conflict within their District.  I am optimistic that these new abilities will enable me provide more productive assistance to Conservation Districts so that hopefully I can help them make a difference in our state’s natural resources, especially our treasured water.



Written by Rachel Theler, Conservation Specialist, Southeast and San Luis Valley Regions at the Colorado Department of Agriculture and member of the Colorado State Conservation Board.

CDR is Hiring a Program Associate

Join Us

Position Announcement: Program Associate

CDR Associates is a collaborative problem solving organization, based in Boulder, Colorado with almost 40 years of experience. Our goal is to make complex projects simpler, find solutions to conflict, and bring diverse groups together to make better decisions. We work in a variety of arenas including transportation and energy projects when federal, state and local authority compete, in the public health arena where stakeholders have diverse needs, and in the water arena where water is scarce or in need of coordinated management.  We provide facilitation, stakeholder engagement, conflict management, and training – and support all these services with our commitment to and expertise in collaboration. The binding element of our work is the pursuit of improved public planning and development outcomes by bringing diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives together.

We’re looking for a Program Associate to join our team – someone who has good communication and organizational skills and is hardworking, reliable, creative, willing to question convention, and able to multi-task in a small, entrepreneurial organization.

As a junior member of our team, you’ll be assisting with the design and implementation of our services, assist with organizational and office needs, and lead communication with stakeholders.

Qualifications and Skills

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree (preferred)
  • A year or more of experience in a related field of work is a plus
  • Specialized skills such as communications, public relations, and graphic design are a plus
  • Experience in project management, facilitation, training, program evaluation, and/or process design
  • Excellent writing and communication skills a must
  • Ability to manage flexible work schedule, including early mornings, some evenings, and weekend work
  • Excellent organizational skills with demonstrated ability to execute projects on time and on budget
  • Ability to work independently and take initiative in a fast-paced work environment
  • Proficient in basic computer use including managing data, reporting, Microsoft Office and designing basic outreach materials; advanced spreadsheet and data analysis are a plus
  • Ability to provide your own transportation to meetings and events outside the Greater Denver area.
  • Desire to develop conflict management, stakeholder engagement, and facilitation skills and to grow within the organization


The program associate may do any or all of the following:

  • Serve as a junior member of facilitation, mediation, and training teams. This may include providing flip-chart recording,note-taking, writing meeting summaries, handling logistical tasks, assisting with project management, and/or conducting preparatory interviews.
  • Prepare senior staff for meetings/facilitations.
  • Assist with proposals and respond to information requests from prospective clients.
  • Support the development and revision of training materials including: training offerings, curricula, and training evaluation.
  • Assure the maintenance and organization of relevant project materials and records as needed for planning, evaluation, and monitoring.
  • Maintain client database and outreach plan to ensure organized project and partner communication.
  • Research issues and substantive information related to CDR projects, on request from other program staff.
  • Prioritize and organize assigned work to ensure projects are completed on time and in scope.
  • Assist with the management of website content, newsletter and other social media.
  • General office administration and organization, including office supply inventory and purchasing.

What’s Next

Send us a (1) Resume, (2) Cover Letter and (3) Writing Sample by August 15, 2018.  We’ll be reviewing and engaging with applicants on a rolling basis. Correspondence can be send to Please write “CDR Project Associate 2018 Application_[First Name] [Last Name]” in the subject line of the email.


Register for CDR’s Fall 2018 Training – Facilitation and Mediation of Public and Environmental Conflicts: Practical Strategies for Reaching Agreement!


CDR’s Fall training program is back! CDR is holding its annual, much-acclaimed 3-day Facilitation and Mediation training in Boulder, Colorado on September 25th through September 27th. Develop essential skills to manage the complexities of multi-party conflict and discover new ways to implement inclusive processes.

To learn more about our public training opportunities or to register, click here.

Introducing CDR’s newest staff member, Melissa Rary

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CDR welcomed a new Program Associate, Melissa Rary, to the team in late February. Melissa brings her passion for engaging communities in decision-making along with her careful attention to detail managing projects. A recent graduate with an MA in International Development from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, Melissa is interested in bringing a diverse group of stakeholders to the table to address sustainable development. She has experience facilitating workshops aimed at improving working relationships for EPA and Tribal Government employees, analyzing qualitative and quantitative data for policy development, and working with international organizations to increase community outreach and awareness.

Prior to moving to Denver, Melissa attended the University of Georgia and remains a loyal Georgia Bulldog during football season each year. When she’s not working, you can find Melissa cooking up a nice meal, running around Denver’s beautiful parks, or hiking with her partner Nick and their two labs, Athena and Oak. Melissa would love to hear any recommendations for your favorite restaurant in the area (or any favorite cookbooks!), so please feel free to reach out to her at

Communicating Science for a Second Century


The National Park Service (NPS) is charged with providing innovative, learner-centered inclusive experiences that reflect current scientific and academic research and methods. The National Park System provides unparalleled in-person and remote learning opportunities for students of every age, primarily through the use of interpreters. Following the Centennial Anniversary of the Park Service, it became clear that the issues are changing and audiences are evolving.  Issues such as climate change, invasive species and endangered species protection, have the potential to delay, derail or dissuade attempts at dialogue and learning. To this end, the Park Service invited social science academics, practitioners and other subject matter experts to an interactive workshop to develop strategies to inform NPS science communication work in the Park Service’s second century.

Key workshop questions included:  1) how can the NPS effectively address the immediate learning interests of some audiences while delivering transformative learning opportunities for all and 2) how can – or should – the NPS best leverage audience-centered interpretation, mass communications, and technology to deliver experiences that advance critical dialogue, reach traditionally underserved audiences and 3) promote lifelong learning across all audiences.

The workshop outcomes included recommendations for innovative practices and tangible actions that can be implemented towards providing impactful communication. This includes a) methods and approaches for meaningful engagement with existing audiences b) opportunities to inspire interest among disengaged audiences on park topics, c) ideas on how to amplify the effect of these efforts through social networks and spheres of influence and d) identify fertile ground for pioneering new methods and technologies that explore the nexus of science, society and personal values. Over the course of the workshop, drawing from marketing, media, arts and humanities and social science as a whole, the workshop participants identified best practices, knowledge gaps and high-priority needs for data and research.

As part of a long-term relationship with the Park Service, CDR, with a team of NPS and Social Science communication experts, assisted in the design and facilitation of this important workshop.

For more information contact Jonathan Bartsch (

Stone Soup for Public Health Improvement Planning


In mid-January, 2018, a diverse group of residents and agency representatives formed with wide-ranging areas of interest, but they had one thing in common — keeping Broomfield a healthy place to live, work, and play. The group is Broomfield’s Health and Human Services Advisory Committee or HHSAC (pronounced H-Sack). HHSAC meets monthly to advise the city and county on community needs and interests around public health. HHSAC met with Broomfield’s Public Health and Environment Division and CDR Associates to talk about the city and county’s Public Health Improvement Plan.

Colorado’s 2008 Public Health Act mandates that every five years local health agencies examine data about the public health of their communities. For Broomfield, examining this data is the foundation of their Public Health Improvement Plan or PHIP. In addition to the core services Broomfield’s Public Health Department always conducts, the PHIP identifies one or more public health issues that the city and county focus on for five years, seeking to make measurable impact on a stymieing challenge.

But there are so many different public health issues. Which one(s) should the PHIP focus on? That’s the question HHSAC, the public health staff, and CDR grappled with. Broomfield had  quantitative data on 12 health priorities, where they measured impact of various issues like chronic diseases, access to health care, mental health, and more. But, it was important to both Broomfield and HHSAC to understand the “why” behind the data, to get the opinions and knowledge of neighbors, service providers, and experts. Marie Grucelski, a public health educator for Public Health and Environment, says, “We need a combination of the facts and figures from places like the CDC and the Colorado Department of Public Health along with the views and opinions of our community members in order to tell the complete story of our community’s health.”

They’re starting in a good place. U.S. New & World Report ranked Broomfield as the 3rd healthiest county in the U.S. in 2018. Broomfield Public Health and Environment and HHSAC aim to make the city and county even healthier, for all populations in their community.

In order to select those public health priorities, Broomfield wanted to hear from the public. In conjucntion with City staff, CDR began conducting a Community Health Assessment or CHA. Broomfield’s goal with the CHA was to hear from as wide a group of voices from the community as possible. To do that, CDR developed multiple methods to meet various community members where they are — using a Broomfield-wide citizen survey, on-location card surveys, online digital surveys, in-person focus groups and interviews, and marketing approaches that notify folks through social media. CDR will collect and analyze the data, use a thematic categorization and coding system and a criteria selection process, and develop an analysis of the qualitative input to tell HHSAC what Broomfield’s community members think and know.

After the information has been collected and analyzed, CDR will gather once again with HHSAC and public health staff. They will meet again and begin review the  data — the quantitative date, the qualitative data, and the community input. CDR will work with HHSAC as they debate pros and cons and criteria for selection. In the end, HHSAC will select two to three public health priorities and will identify ways to make Broomfield a healthier place to live, work, and play.

If you have any questions about CDR’s public health work or community assessments and data analysis, write Jeffrey Range at

Drugs & Kids: Taking on a Surmountable Public Health Challenge


In 1898, The Bayer Co. commercialized their new pain reliever — a little off-the-shelf number called Heroin. At the time the opioid was considered a wonder drug. In 1996 Purdue Pharma started selling OxyContin. In 2016, the U.S. averaged 115 opioid overdose deaths a day.

We start with the opioid epidemic because it’s topical. It’s in the news and on our minds. It’s also but a single chapter of the broader substance use and abuse story. The opioid epidemic, as an illustrative case, can seem insurmountable. And drug abuse issues in general can produce similar thinking. Can anything be done, or are we helpless in the face of this massive problem? The Public Health and Environment Division in Broomfield, Colorado say something can be done.

The division is launching a Communities that Care (CTC) program to address youth substance abuse. CTC is a program of the Center for Communities that Care out of the University of Washington. “The CTC process begins with a youth survey to identify a community’s risks and strengths. Based on these data, CTC helps communities select and implement tested & effective prevention programs and policies. CTC also helps amplify programs already working.”

For Broomfield, the plan was to (1) convene a group of experts (steering committee) who work with youth and have some connection to youth substance abuse, (2) gather quantitative data and community input, (3) provide the steering committee with the data and input, and (4) have the steering committee make recommendations on what factors Broomfield should focus on.

The group, the steering committee, would be charged with recommending two to three factors for Broomfield to focus on, selected from CTC’s overall 32 factors. The factors a community selects help determine which strategies a community will employ to address youth substance abuse. Factors are separated into “protective factors” and “risk factors.” To oversimplify it, protective factors are proactive things that keep kids from getting into drugs, while risk factors are the types of events and influences that can lead a kid to getting into drugs. Which to focus on? Which will have the most effectiveness? Which is most influential in Broomfield? Answering those questions were the charge of the steering committee.

Gathering community input sought to get an on-the-ground understanding of drugs and kids in Broomfield. This is where CDR came in.

CDR had two jobs on this effort – collect the community input by conducting a series of interviews and help the steering committee make a consensus decision.

But why all the trouble? Broomfield had the authority to make a decision on which factors and strategies to select. Alison Long, Director of Health Promotions at Broomfield Public Health and Environment, said, “It is challenging to work with a group of residents from different disciplines and perspectives to come up with recommendations on how to address the complex problem of youth substance abuse. But when the coalition was able to reach consensus based on community input, we gained buy-in and support for our goals that would have been more difficult working as an individual organization.”

She spoiled the endgame there a little. But, she’s right. First, the steering committee passed a consensus-based recommendation to Broomfield. They recommended Broomfield focus on (1) School and Community Opportunities for Prosocial Involvement (Protective Factor) and (2) Early and Persistent Anti-Social Behavior (Risk Factor). And, the work of obtaining community input from schools, police, health care providers, youth who were former users, parents of kids with addiction, and other nonprofits created a big team, who’s invested in this issue; who wants to collaborate to make meaningful change on the issue; and who bring unique knowledge, resources, and ideas to addressing the issue. That’s to say, by getting community input, Broomfield not only got key information. They also got partners.

In the end, Broomfield is taking on a massive challenge, using tested strategies to do so, tailoring it to meet Broomfield’s unique needs, and founding it – using CDR’s help – on community partnership.

To learn more about CDR’s public health work or community assessments and data analysis write Taber Ward ( or Jeffrey Range (


Update: Colorado Wildlife and Transportation


From 2005-2014, the total average cost of wildlife-vehicle collisions to Colorado citizens (not including the value of the wildlife killed and impacts to wildlife populations) was $57.3 million/year. In addition, there are an average of 3.3 human deaths as a result of wildlife-vehicle collisions per year and many more wildlife deaths. The Colorado Wildlife and Transportation Steering Committee is working hard to decrease these numbers.

In November of 2017, CDR posted this article about a new initiative addressing highway permeability in Colorado’s wildlife migration corridors. Since then, CDR has begun coordinating efforts between CDOT, CPW, FHWA, USFS, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe focused on Colorado’s wildlife and transportation integration. A Steering Committee has been formed to “provide safe passage for people and wildlife in Colorado,” and leaders from both the west and east slope are participating in the conversation. To achieve their goal, the group will identify ways to incorporate wildlife crossings into highway planning as well as look at habitat restoration along migration routes.

Currently, the initiative is in its formative stages and is working on both West and East Slope Wildlife Prioritization Studies. These studies, led by CDR partner JACOBS, will help the Steering Committee identify both highways and roads as well as species to prioritize when incorporating wildlife movement and habitats into highway planning. Once this data is collected, CDR and JACOBS will work together with the Committee to determine pathways for effectively sharing data across agencies and with the public. In addition to developing Committee buy-in for the initiative, CDR will be developing a broad engagement and education strategy across the state.

CDR is spearheading Steering Committee coordination and is committed to keeping the momentum from the successful 2017 Wildlife and Transportation Summit going. CDR has facilitated two Steering Committee meetings in 2018, establishing the group’s mission, vision, and goals through July 2019. Additional meetings are planned as the group begins to work on forming education opportunities, partnerships, and procedures.

We will continue to update you on education opportunities in your area and post group updates as they arise.

For more information contact Taber Ward. (

Getting To The Heart of Conflict



A Workshop with Author BERNIE MAYER

Sponsored by CDR Associates, Univ. of Denver Conflict Resolution Institute, and Cathy Schultheis, Co-Chair of the ADR Section of the Boulder County Bar Assoc.
May 4, 2018 from 8:45 – 2:00

Bernie Mayer, is well known to many of us as a founding partner of CDR Associates, and a long time mediator and conflict specialist. In this small, interactive, ½ day program, Bernie returns to Boulder to work with us on how to best understand the most essential conflicts our clients face and the biggest obstacles we encounter in helping to deal with these in a constructive way. He will ask us to look beyond interests to the underlying human needs that drive conflict and to contend with the polarized view that clients, and many of the professionals they work with, hold about the nature of their conflicts and the choices they face.

• The workshop fee of $99.00 includes lunch. Space is limited. First come first serve. CLE Application is pending.

• 7560 Monarch Road in Niwot, off Highway 52, just east of IBM

• RSVP to Cathy Schultheis at (303) 652-3638 or email at Your registration will be confirmed promptly.

Bernie Mayer, PhD, is a Professor of Conflict Studies, in the Program on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Creighton University. He has provided conflict intervention for families, communities, NGO’s, unions, corporations, and governmental agencies throughout North America and internationally for over 35 years. Bernie’s most recent book is The Conflict Paradox, Seven Dilemmas at the Core of Disputes. Earlier books include: The Dynamics of Conflict, Beyond Neutrality, and Staying With Conflict. Bernie received the 2015 John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award, presented by the Association for Conflict Resolution, the 2013 President’s Award presented by the Association of Family Conciliation Courts, and the 2009 Meyer Elkin Award, also presented by the AFCC.


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