2013 Great American Brewers Dialogue
This report covers the Great American Brewers Dialogue (GABD) of October 9, 2013. It summarizes the goals of the dialogue; the processes from each location, topics introduced and discussed, and concludes with a brief list of recommendations taken from what we covered in the dialogue. We chose 10 a.m. on October 9 for several reasons. First, it was the Wednesday before the Great American Beer Festival. This meant that most brewery representatives would be arriving in town earlier in the week. Second, the time slot on October 9 fit between the plethora of beer events in Denver that week. Third, October is Colorado Conflict Resolution Month, and we thought this would be a great merger of craft beer, conflict resolution and good times.
The GABD was open to brewery representatives only. This ensured confidentiality and participant openness, as well as maintained focus on the brewing industry. For more information about the GABD, visit http://OvalOptions.com/great-american-brewers-dialogue-2013/.
Great American Brewers Dialogue: Goals
Dialogue is a powerful and effective tool for conflict resolution around the world. It brings conflicting parties to an open communication process in an effort to generate, inspect and apply solutions. With the help of a neutral party (facilitator), participants probe, analyze and reframe issues to uncover hidden (or overlooked) interests, which drive the conflict. Most dialogue cases address entrenched, intense and violent conflict. The brewing community and the GABD certainly do not fit this category.
Yet, dialogue’s benefits of open communication are not only useful for those ensconced in conflict. If used more often, open communication could prevent conflict escalation. We believe that in addition to preventing intense conflicts, open communication, if used often and early, can increase a group’s (organization, company, etc.) effectiveness, efficiency and production and limit intergroup friction.
The GABD aimed to illustrate this point. It also sought to uncover, discover and otherwise provide solutions to ongoing problems participants may be experiencing. Since the issues addressed in the GABD were vague beforehand, we were unable to prescribe answers, but this was not our goal anyway. Rather, we wanted facilitators to encourage participants to either discover answers themselves as a group, or guide the generation of solutions. If solutions were reached, then so much the better.
We wanted to highlight the importance of the process of problem investigation and solution generation so that participants can employ it in future instances. Like the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Here, we wanted to demonstrate some group communication techniques so participants can use them later.
The third, and by far easiest, goal was for participants to connect with each other. Most were strangers to the rest of the group, and the GABD offered an opportunity to network with each other. It does not take much energy to encourage brewers to talk with one another. As far as this goal is concerned, the GABD succeeded swimmingly.
The final overall goal for the GABD was to introduce participants to someDenversmall businesses: Prost Brewing, Strange Brewing, Vine Street Pub & Brewery, and OvalOptions.
Great American Brewers Dialogue: Process
We advertised the GABD as an open discussion. This is a vague notion and remained unclear to participants until the dialogue began. We did this on purpose for two reasons: first, we wanted the participants to own the dialogue. They would decide what topics they discussed with only a little persuasion from OvalOptions. (Example topics were listed on the GABD webpage during registration.) Second, we wanted to test, or gauge, the eagerness of brewers to attend an event with which they were unfamiliar, but one that had potential to provide assistance, insight and valuable information. This notion was highly unscientific, but brewers showed up, and that says something about their commitment to the beer industry and passion for their businesses.
Three locations sponsored the GABD: Prost Brewing, Strange Brewing and Vine Street Pub and Brewery. While one location would have sufficed for an effective dialogue, we wanted a diversity of insight, opinions, thinking processes and feedback. Separate facilities ensured that the groups would have their own, unique discussions. Afterwards, we wanted to see if the topics participants chose were similar or different. This would give us an idea if the chosen topics were widespread or particular to certain participants. In essence, this provides a random sample of topics of importance to the brewing industry. As detailed below, even though groups were separated by distance, they chose very similar, if not identical, topics to discuss. With this information, we can broaden a relatively qualitative analysis to the rest of the industry, with caution.
At each location, participants introduced topics (and themselves) with no premonition. Once the dialogue began, participants had a good idea as to the topics to cover. Facilitators neither prescribed nor dictated the topics, thereby making the discussion process organic, unique and fully owned by the participants. Participants were free (and encouraged) to announce any topic they wished, so long as it pertained to the brewing industry and it was not already listed (i.e., no duplicates). Facilitators listed the topics on flip-charts for every participant to view.
Once a list of topics was populated, each participant, relative to their group, voted on one issue that concerned them the most. The groups then concentrated their respective group discussions on the issue that received the most votes. In some instances, similar issues were combined and broader issues further clarified.
Great American Brewers Dialogue: Locations
Prost Brewing Company
Prost Brewing is modeled after an authentic German brewery. In fact, most of the brewing equipment was part of an old German brewery. The Brewery was made by the Ziemann GmbH in 1963. It was installed at the Bucher Bräu in the German city ofGrafenauand used there until 1984. In 1984, it was overhauled and sold to Brauerei Hümmer of Breitengüßbach, Germany, a village in the Franconian region of Bavaria. Brauerei Hümmer started brewing beer in the Franconian village of Breitengüßbach in 1642. The brewery served the town for over 350 years until the spring of 2011. It made several styles including Altfränkisches Dunkel Bier, a rare specialty beer that revived in Denver.
Strange Brewing Company
Located just south of Sports Authority Field, home of the Denver Broncos, Strange Brewing Company is in its fourth year of brewing. Strange Brewing is the realization of a dream shared by two out-of-work IT Techs, John and Tim, who had worked together at the Rocky Mountain News before that newspaper closed in February 2009. Strange Brewing opened May 19, 2010, as a one-barrel microbrewery. By starting out small, Strange could focus more on the recipes than on running and building a small business. Brewing one barrel at a time allowed them to experiment and tweak, refining recipes for the day when they could use a larger brew system.
Vine Street Pub & Brewery
As part of Mountain Sun trio of breweries, Vine Street Pub & Brewery (VSP/B) added the “brewery” part just last year. Of the three Mountain Sun locations, VSP/B has the largest brewing capacity. In April 2008, the Mountain Sun restaurant group took its concept to the Uptown neighborhood of Denver, opening the Vine Street Pub. The surrounding neighborhoods embraced the pub immediately, naming it Denver’s best brewpub in its first year in Westword magazine. In April 2012, the pub opened its flagship brewery with the capacity to produce 5,000 barrels annually, outnumbering the current brewing capacity of both Boulder locations combined, and reducing beer transportation miles between the pubs.
Great American Brewers Dialogue: Alteration
Initially we set the GABD at three locations. Unfortunately, unforeseen complications at Vine Street Pub and Brewery demanded their attention. While they still offered their space and hospitality, in order to ensure the best experience for our participants, we decided to direct them to one of the other locations: Strange Brewing and Prost Brewing. We want to underscore that VSP/B was eager to host this event, and we thank them for the opportunity.
Thanks to Mobile Meltz and Dog Town food trucks for providing lunch opportunities for the participants … and ourselves!
Format and Progressions
Facilitators: Chris Beauchamp, Devin Rau, Maggie Lea
Prost’s large main room is ideal for large gatherings or crowds, which they have quite often. To keep this discussion confidential and insulated from normal chatter, we used the conference room. While this made the dialogue group tight and cozy, with several “walk-ins,” it may have been a bit crowded. It also helped foster cross talk among participants, which can be disruptive. Nonetheless, this session experienced the most organic and free-flowing session of the dialogue.
We began by asking the brewers to identify areas of concern in their businesses that they may want to elaborate on in further discussions. The group highlighted 12 main ideas as potential areas of further discussion. Figure 1 illustrates the voting breakdown.
- Employee/Volunteer liaison at events. Getting things organized
- Measuring the effectiveness of attending promotional events and evaluation
- Managing business growth
- “Craft vs. crafty” and “Nano breweries.” How big is big enough?
- For-profit/Non-profit pouring at events: the balance of power between promoter and brewer
- Pricing our kegs, broken into three initial subcategories;
- Access to markets
- State laws
- Saturation of breweries
- Development of beer culture
- Movement into bigger markets
- Distribution: Competition among vendors
- Educating consumers
- Employee retention
Figure 1: Voting Results (PROST BREWING)
From there, the conversation went into how we could put some of the ideas from above into a tangible problem. Ultimately, the conversation gravitated towards how to “define” each organization’s unique culture, or in the words of one participant, to define “your company’s ethos.”
The group formed a question that we reframed and asked back to them: As the “smaller” brewing industry grows, how do you fit in, in terms of:
Defining your level of success?
- Defining yourself: how big is big enough?
- How big do you need to be?
- How big do you want to be?
How do you define yourself?
- Quality control, e.g. is using hop oil craft brewing?
- Competing in the larger industry
- In relation to other breweries
- Collaboration vs. competition
All of these factors together serve to define a “company’s ethos.” (To note: there may be more factors that help determine definition. The above were agreed on as some parameters.)
After some discussion, the facilitators made a decision to simplify the potentially complicated process of narrowing discussion points and decided to use a classical voting method to narrow the topics. Each group participant was encouraged to mark issues that most closely represented their most important day-to-day issues; the most check marks then determined the course of the discussion.
After a lunch break (thanks to Dog Town), the group reconvened and members indicated their preference for further discussion, we found that item No. 6 from the original discussion points:
Pricing our kegs (broken into three initial subcategories):
- Access to markets
- State laws
The orientation proceeded from “Pricing Our Kegs.” This initiated a broad circle of sub-topics that very well could have been main themes. This is not unusual, and is actually quite common, in open discussions. Some topics can be taken for granted or are too big to be seen, and it takes some in-depth discussion to recognize them. The group uncovered:
- Smaller breweries have less market elasticity
- The value of beer
- Production differentiation
- Scarcity: creating scarcity creates demand
- Seasonal beer/special releases
- Create your own demand through:
- Scarcity/quantity (or lack of)
- Festivals create a “community”
- Understand your demographic and market to them
- Create consistency
- Use employees for quality control
- Restaurants (on-premise accounts) want a consistent supply
- Balancing what distributors want with production constraints
- Package dates can be good or bad depending on your operation
This conversation primarily revolved around access to market — how different tax rates in different states create obstacles for some people. For example, the Washington tax per gallon is almost eight times that of Colorado, which is disadvantageous for Washington brewers.
The conversation went to strategies for dealing with market restrictions.
- How to create capacity for elasticity:
- Be willing to pull a beer if there are quality issues
- Identify what is important to your operation
- Be sure employees are on board with the organizational vision and educate them so that they:
- Know the product
- Manage reputation
- Employees should be “ambassadors”
- Find the customers who are advocates and use them
- They are your core customers and can help to create your brand
- Be sure they are educated about the product
- Use package dates if they are consistent with your strategic vision
One of the key features of the conversation at this point revolved around organizational culture and the importance of how a craft brewery knows and works within that culture. For example, one of the discussions talked about “how big is too big, and how big is big enough?” Some brewers were perfectly happy staying “small,” because they love what they do and like the idea of a “smaller” craft beer. Others were toiling with growth in terms of trying to get bigger. In either case, participants came to a fairly strong consensus that it is important for each respective organization to think about “where” they want to be in relation to other breweries in the industry and to use that knowledge to their advantage.
The subject morphed into how to best educate your patrons (on-premise, taproom customers), so they can disseminate accurate information to other potential customers. Staff need to be well-educated on the brand and beer so they can educate the patrons, who might bring in more patrons. Not all people who come into tasting rooms are beer geeks, but if the people who work there spark an interest in the people who come in, they may come back, and they may even become beer geeks. Similarly, another key point was educating off-premise customers.
Up to here, the conversation was circular, broad, sporadic and contained cross-chatter. Once a main theme emerged the group increased focus. Participants searched for a topic to expand on, which turned out to be the pricing of the kegs. As it turned out, the concern around this issue had to do more with how to compete in the industry and the restrictions that breweries face in competing against larger producers. Yet, in the end, the conversation once again seemed to circle back around to the importance of the craft brewing culture, and how to get others to understand and embrace that culture.
- Ways to differentiate your product
- How to communicate your message to your customers
- How to create and develop a “community”?
- Beer Culture
- How to get people to experiment with “smaller” beer
- Create a unified definition of “craft” brewing
Facilitators: Mark Loye, Jonathan Guerts, Jason Gladfelter
Strange Brewing Company has three rooms, with one under construction due to expansion. This left access to two rooms, which was perfect for the dialogue. For a more accurate comparison between separate dialogue groups. As with Prost, the group at Strange populated a list of issues. Again, participants were not coached or persuaded by facilitators to recommend anything aside from keeping within the brewing industry. Participants came up with:
- Sourcing equipment
- Trademark issues
- Brewery consultants
- Government codes/regulations
- Bottom line v. quality control
- New breweries connecting with resources/cupplies
- Differing government levels and regulations
- Advice from experienced brewers
- Market saturation/sustainability
- Distribution negotiation
- Ingredient sourcing and agricultural impact
- Human relations
- Craft market “deception”
- Safety concerns
Figure 2: Votes for Topics (STRANGE BREWING)
The top two vote-getters were “Bottom Line v. Quality Control” and “Market Saturation/Sustainability,” as seen in Figure 2. “Distribution Negotiation” tied with the latter and the group decided to fold it into “Market Saturation/Sustainability.” We then decided to split the large group into two smaller groups to discuss these topics.
Bottom Line vs. Quality Control
To begin this section of the dialogue, we asked for a list of concerns pertaining to bottom line and quality control and then definitions of concerns/issues in more detail. In other words, what does Bottom Line vs. Quality Control mean to the participants? It should be noted that a large portion of participants identified strongly with brewing and less with business. This is not a dramatic revelation, but rather underscores concerns for many brewers across the board.
- Money manager requiring inferior ingredients
- Quality Control neglected for profit
- Rushed production schedules
- Finding line between making good beer and making money
- Choosing beer just because it sells
- Art vs. economics
- Willingness/reluctance to dump a problem beer
- Moving (replacing) from “friend” brewer to “expert” brewer to make more money
- Delays due to intrusive investor
- More investors equal less control of product
- Get new money manager—one who understands business better
- Modify production methods to fit budget
- Fix formulation of beer — quality for less money
- Better marketing to increase sales
- Prioritize beer types — make the beers you can afford at any one time and you can change over time
Quality Control and Profit
- Re-examine brewing process and equipment
- Brewer has to set standards and be in charge (hands-on)
- Tight control of procedures
- Company-wide pride in product
- Training of new employees
- Don’t neglect details
- Everyone has to be responsible, including brewers, for final production
- How bad does it hurt to dump a beer?
- Short term: a lot of money
- Long term: loss of reputation if not dumped
- Answer: come up with a balanced formula
- Blend some
- Dump some
- Choose markets for particular batches
- First experience with a craft beer has to be a good one for consumers
- Nothing is worth losing reputation and business
Rushed Production Schedules
- Better management of relation between production and consumption/sales
- Better forecasting
- Leave room for error
- Respect the voice of caution
Art vs. Economics
- Decide from the outset — Who do you want to be as a brewer?
- Be adaptable based on customer demand
- Customers may modify your “flagship” beer, thereby modifying your mission
- Decide on your customer group
- Expansion may change your mission
- Do I want to expand? What are the implications of expansion?
- Be transparent with your customers (part of marketing)
- Create a culture for your brewery and let public know
Market Saturation/Sustainability: The Craft Market and Marketing Craft
As with the other group at Strange, defining issues was the first step here.
- How close is the next brewery?
- Some adjacency is good if it creates a thoroughfare for business
- Breweries tend to be resistant to cannibalization; different ones tend to attract different crowds
- Even if they have similar images, the same crowds spread out their time between two options, because their offerings will be different
- Shelf space is the most limited territory in dispute
- Craft brewing is in a phase of unrestricted growth, which will inevitably shift. What should we do to prepare for this shift?
- Diversify offerings (e.g., develop flavor crossovers with wine)
- Develop resiliency through diversity
- Currently, craft beer shares 8 percent of the market nationwide. What can we do to widen this base?
- We can attract outsiders, such as outdoor recreationists, with “gateway” session-style beers
- What is the difference between paying for an $18 bomber of high-quality brew and $9 each for two red Solo cups at a baseball game?
- Currently the pervasive idea is “brew it and they will come.” Does this creative desire of the brewer get in the way?
- Is craft beer currently limited to “beer nerds” or those with a strong spirit of exploration?
- We need to get the rest of the family to join them, respecting dietary restrictions and a variety of palates for both beer and food offerings
- The restaurant industry currently is much higher risk than brewing, so we don’t want to venture too much in that direction
- Different business models can help us diversify and become more resilient to change (e.g., crowd-sourcing)
- Stories true to the brand can enhance the image of a brewery
- Must be genuine, based on the personalities of the founders
- Find your style and leverage it to target a demographic
- Must remain original, resistant to normalizing pressure
- Easier to defend beer names (against duplicate trademark claims) if they’re consistent with the brand
- Research ALL name ideas before formal use — trademark problems can be devastating
Bringing Them Back Together
After a quick lunch (thanks to Mobile Meltz), the facilitators decided to bring participants back to the plenary. They felt both discussions shared interests and that each group was interested in what the other discussed. After a quick round of feedback, the group decided to focus on capital and investment issues. This discussion tied together the previous topics while introducing an overarching concern: capital.
- Word of mouth
- Legally limited to seasoned investors
- Most of us start with family members
- Be very picky about primaries
- Determine how many you want. Recommend eight to 12 investment units, no more than 15
- Raise awareness and interest with tastings and other events to demo the product
- Look for those with an industry background
- Deliver both monetary and social returns on investment
- Membership benefits for those who contribute on a smaller level (e.g. mug club)
- How much control will they have?
- Communication plan — How will they talk about your brewery and their role within it?
- What is your dispute resolution process — A combination of firmness and tact goes a long way
- Be very careful and specific in the initial contract; front-end diligence is well worth the effort
Topics of Common Interest
To review, participants at each location introduced many topics. After clarifying each one, participants voted for the one that represented the biggest concerns to them, or the industry, or both. Figures 1 and 2 chart the votes. Several participants voted for two topics — we allowed this as not to stifle their concerns. Participants voiced their concerns over a wide range of topics: from human resources to craft beer culture. As we see, while the phrases used were different, both locations shared many concerns.
Figure 3 illustrates the level of interest in similar or related topics at the GABD. By combining like topics from each session, we see increased interest or concern in two overall broader categories: business operations and a business’ place in the market.
One could argue that there is room to combine more topics, and that is a good argument. For example, one could say that “Value of Attending Events” fits with “Development of Beer Culture”, or “Safety Concerns” with “Bottom Line v. Quality Control”. There are several ways to interpret the data, the purpose here is to illustrate similarity of concerns among participants, and that no issue is isolated from others.
Figure 3 also highlights the increased awareness of breweries as businesses. In other words, brewers are more than just people with cool jobs — they have a business to run in an increasingly crowded market. In addition, small business owners of craft breweries fear the impact of current larger breweries and their future roles in the brewing industry.
We can safely conclude that the salience of breweries’ concerns correlate with their size or longevity in the industry. For instance, nascent breweries’ main concerns seem to focus on capital and investment, whereas more established breweries focus on market competition and brand protection. This is not to say that any topic is exclusive to or determined by the size of a brewery. Certainly, most breweries face similar challenges, perhaps at different times and levels.
It should be noted that for GABD purposes, participants made quick decisions as to which topics concern them the most. Given more time to consider the question, context and various options, their responses may have differed. Fortunately, the GABD does not have to stand alone. Future dialogue opportunities can build upon the GABD foundation – continuing conversations and applying what we learn.
Figure 3: Combined Topics (Note: Each topic received an automatic vote for being introduced.)
The primary goal of the GAMD was not to provide solutions to problems. While we welcomed any solutions that came along, we did not push for them, nor dictate any. Instead, we embraced open communication and the reframing of questions. As we see above, some questions, when turned around, present a different angle on problems that many breweries face. For example, the question “What is the difference between paying for an $18 bomber of high quality brew and $9 each for two red Solo cups at a baseball game?” was reframed to, “Why do people purchase two $9 Solo cups of beer at ballgames, but not an $18 bomber at the store?” This brings to focus the quality of a beer, as well as the context in which it is purchased and enjoyed. This could tie into “brewery’s ethos” or “place in the industry.” We can continue this link to include “craft beer definitions” and then “market sustainability.”
This is the hidden gem of dialogue. Many questions come up during multiple discussions that can help, a) bring together diverse topics, b) clarify an issue and c) stimulate further discussions with more focus and energy. It helps to take a step back and look at a situation from above, and with more sets of eyes. As the brewing industry welcomes new members each week, and with the total number of breweries climbing toward 3,000, the potential of the collective brainpower and creativity is astounding.
As conflict management professionals, we always recommend open communication, listening and brainstorming techniques with a healthy portion of patience. This is not always easy and may require outside assistance. Nevertheless, maintaining use of these techniques is essential to preserve relationships — personal and business, which are crucial to business operations.
- Small can be destructive: The “easy” road is tempting. It may seem simpler and quicker to ignore a small problem or complaint; we call this “latent conflict,” one that simmers until some instance ignites it. Yet, the actual easy road is to address latent problems before they escalate and cause more damage. In the long run, it benefits to address them as soon as possible
- Your concerns are shared; do not feel like the oddball. There are others out there experiencing the same problems. Do not be afraid to ask for help; others have, and more need to
- Brewers (and brewery representatives) are creative. Given the time, space, encouragement and guidance, brewers and others may very well have solutions locked away and just need some probing
- A fist is stronger than its individual fingers: Encourage brewers to communicate regularly. This helps brainstorm solutions and ideas, as well as build, maintain and strengthen personal relationships. Even seemingly aimless conversation can spark great ideas
- Draw creative power from brewers as a collective
- Breweries are businesses and subject to the same intricacies, frustrations, complications and problems as other businesses
- Develop a well-thought plan for operations, and be prepared to change it or throw it away. Flexibility (personal and professional) is essential to business survival and is not always easy
- Be aware of other options to address issues. While legal avenues are always open, many times there are more appropriate roads to take
- Take time to build relationships with customers, consumers and competition. This may require more investment up front, but can avail benefits later
- Knowledge is everything, and education about beer, brewing and issues therein can enrich the industry
How OvalOptions Uses This Report
We aim to build upon the GABD and this report to further discussion of the brewing industry in breadth and depth. Issues covered here are open to further examination and introduction of new issues. This GABD is not a one-time event and the discussions may, and will, evolve as more participants engage and ideas generate.
We anticipate hosting more dialogue or discussion sessions with the craft brewing industry. Future events may include associated industries, such as agriculture, supplies, equipment manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and on-premise accounts. With the information gleaned from this GABD, additional dialogues and discussions can also be more specific in scope, topic and format.
With the information generated from the GABD, OvalOptions will further amend and customize its services to reflect the needs and concerns of the brewing industry. These services include meeting facilitation, mediation, group dialogue, coaching and training seminars.
Look for the OvalOptions interactive exhibit at
the 2014 Craft Brewers Conference.
Come participate with us!
For more information about the Craft Brewing industry and conflict management, call or visit our website:
(720) 220.8683 www.ovaloptions.com
Jason Gladfelter, M.A.
Jason is the OvalOptions Adult Beverage Industry Programs Director. A beer geek and home brewer, Jason has been involved in the craft beer industry since 2004 and has written over 2,000 beer reviews. In 2006, he received a Masters of Conflict Resolution from the University of Denver. He studied international mediation and negotiation in Prague (and sampled many pilsners). In 2008, Jason moved to India to practice conflict management at MetaCulture. While there, he assisted Nilarya Gourmet Beers in importing American craft beer to the subcontinent. He has been to numerous beer festivals, from Portland, (ME & OR) to Singapore, and maintains an impressive beer cellar. His goal is to combine conflict management with craft brewing for the benefit of both sides of the bar: brewers and the public. Jason graduated from the University of Kansas, where he discovered craft beer at Free State Brewery. Copperhead Ale is still one of his favorites.
Brian S. Beck, M.A.
Brian, a recognized leader in conflict resolution, brings a unique ability to help clients understand the root causes of disagreements along with the coaching skills to help them find the most appropriate solutions. Brian is owner and co-founder of OvalOptions, LLC and has led workshops and trainings on understanding conflict and problem solving. He served as director of business communications for a rural health center in Limon, Colorado, in 2007, and has worked with various organizations to improve internal cultures and work environments. His master’s thesis examined the conflicts that occur during organizational change initiatives. He completed a master’s in Conflict Resolution from the University of Denver in March 2010, and has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Oklahoma State University and a Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from University of Denver’s University College.
Mark Loyeis the Director of Jefferson County Mediation Services with more than 26 years of experience as a professional in the dispute resolution field, with training and experience in mediation and facilitation areas including multi-party environmental and land use, business, organizational, EEO/workplace, divorce and child custody, real estate, task force and group facilitation and other specialized areas. His educational background includes an undergraduate degree in biology and graduate degrees in ecology and public administration, as well as 453 hours of varied mediation training. He has conducted training seminars in dispute resolution for the federal government, local governments, the U.S. Postal Service, private training organizations and at professional conferences. He also works under contract as an EEO mediator for the U.S. Postal Service (134 cases, to date) and has his own private mediation practice under the banner of Mediation Works 2, L.L.C.
Devin R. Rau
Devin maintains 20 years in facility maintenance, management and logistics, before deciding to use his skills to help people, rather than buildings. With his background, Devin brings a diverse and unique perspective to the field of dispute resolution. He is a trained and experienced mediator and facilitator, working to move modern businesses toward more inclusive and participatory business practices.
Chris joins the Oval Options team as a business coach, with focus on communications and personal development (individuals & team). He helps companies and professionals shift perspectives and corresponding action to produce new results. He worked in branding, advertising and design for 12 years before commencing on his career as a coach in 2009. In the creative span of his career, he observed challenges internally as well as with firm clients, and the opportunity to shift to create conversations that produce different outcomes. Chris studied ontological coaching, a branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence at the Newfield Network in Boulder, CO. In 2012 he developed his coaching practice with a commitment to make a permanent difference in organizations, their people and people that are connected to them. He received a bachelor’s in architecture from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997. He has been volunteering with Colorado Youth at Risk as a teen mentor, facilitator, production manager and community leader, for 5 years. His passions include 14ers, international travel, the Spanish language, and trying anything once.
Maggie, a Colorado native with an enthusiastic interest in Alternative Dispute Resolution, has the ability to empathize with multiple points of view, a strong sense of fairness and nuanced interpersonal skills. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution at the University of Denver, where she is also the Graduate Intern in the office of Student Conduct at DU. Through her work there, she is developing a pilot Restorative Justice program, which will be used when the university works with students to resolve student conduct violations.
Jonathan is an associate with Keystone’s Science and Public Policy program. Currently, he provides project support and facilitation services to Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. He has a background in the federal government, having at various times worked for the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. For two years previous to his employment with Keystone, Jonathan mediated child support cases with Jefferson County Mediation Services. To celebrate the intermountain west, he runs ultra-marathons in the summer and cross-country skis in the winter. Jonathan holds a Master of Art in conflict resolution from the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Art in environmental studies from St. Olaf College.