As those of you who were in Las Vegas for the ABA Conference know, the 2023 Frank E. A. Sander Award for Innovation in Dispute Resolution went to the House Select Committee on Modernization of Congress. Named for long-time Harvard Law School professor Frank Sander, the Frank E.A. Sander Innovation in ADR Award was established to recognize innovative methods and extraordinary achievements in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution. It is a joint initiative of the ABA Center for Innovation and the ABA Section for Dispute Resolution.
The House Select Committee on Modernization of Congress was established by House Resolution 6 in Jan. 2019, and is tasked to investigate, study, make findings, hold public hearings and develop recommendations to make Congress more effective, efficient and transparent on behalf of the American people. The Select Committee is one of the only truly bipartisan committees in Congress, with an equal number of Republican and Democratic members.
The honorees of this award introduced collaborative group processes with such surprising benefits that NPR (and not the “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” part of NPR) entitled its article about it “A Tale of Bipartisanship in Congress – No, Seriously.” The focus of that story was the U.S. House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress – – a group which the Washington Post described as “the most important committee you’ve never heard of.”
The three U.S. Representatives who pioneered in using collaborative processes as leaders of the committee were Derek Kilmer, a Democrat, and Republicans Tom Graves and William Timmons. The committee had made 195 recommendations to Congress. Of these, Congress has already put into effect 42 and partially implemented 88.
A video featuring two of these leaders, interviewed by Getting to Yes co-author Bruce Patton, who has also played a critical role in the Rebuild Congress Initiative, is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhaGKtHBm34
Shout outs (shouts out?) as well to Grande Lum for his leadership in this initiative, and to Frank Sander’s children, Tom, Alison, and Ernie Sander, for creating the award to honor their father’s enormous contributions and celebrate these dispute resolution innovators whose work really matters.
I heartily recommend taking a few minutes to watch the video.