Debra Synovec – an interview


Who are you? Where do you come from? What is your background?

I am from Minnesota. I founded Whole Mediation & Consulting Services, P.C., a business in which I provide mediation, facilitation and financial consulting for divorce and family issues. My professional status
now is: Family and Divorce Mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), located
in Seattle, Washington. I have a background as an attorney, CPA and social worker, to provide services for family and divorcing couples that have issues requiring compassion and pragmatism. 

What do your current professional practice and activities look like? 

I am a solo practitioner, 100% committed to helping families through mediation and other cooperative conflict resolution methods. I offer clients a progressive, productive, and peaceful process to resolve divorce and family challenges and create a more balanced, empower- ing approach to conflict resolution. 

I am a member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators, the Collaborative Professionals of Washington, the King County Lawyers ADR Section, the Washington State Bar Association-ADR Section (former chair), and currently, I am a member of an ad hoc committee working on advance early stage mediation in the courts in King County. 

How did you first learn about mediation? 

I first learned about divorce and family mediation in law school, then I interviewed Steve Erickson and Marilyn McKnight about the profession, then took their training in 1987 and worked with them for about 11⁄2 years before I moved to Bloomington, IL where, much to my chagrin, I had to practice law in order to make a living. 

What do you hope to accomplish as a Board Member of APFM?

I hope to help APFM flourish by creating a sound foundation for the organization. I see my role as someone who will help the board set policies and maintain the overall direction. When I get asked to join a Board, it usually is to help the Board create a sound infrastructure in order to ensure that plans and programs are implemented—I think that was the case here. But, part of the reason I became a Board mem- ber is, hopefully, to inspire best mediation practices here in Washington. 

Where do you see the field of Family Mediation going?

I see family mediation becoming more mainstream and inclusive. Not just a practice in which a lone mediator and two clients work together (nothing wrong with this), but in- stead, a process that is flexible and embraces originality so that people with diverse needs and challenges have a process to use that meets their diverse needs. I see mediation and collaborative law becoming more “cooperative” with each other in order to give clients alternatives that meet their needs. 

What do you like to do when you are not mediating?

Many activities: walking with my husband and our dogs, reading good books, fiction and non-fiction alike, having a cinnamon roll and coffee while reading the N.Y. Times on Sun- day morning, practicing yoga, bicycling, traveling short, and long distances (we go to the warm weather of Desert Hot Springs about three times a year), entertaining friends and family, watching a well-done drama such as The Sopranos, Spiral or The Wire, and just hanging out, hopefully in some sunshine. 

This interview was originally published in The Professional Family Mediator, Fall 2014.

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