Dispute Resolution Section Presents Peace, Harmony Awards

The NCBA Dispute Resolution Section presented three awards on Thursday, March 14, during a special ceremony at Ward and Smith of Raleigh.

Amy Lynn Cox Gruendel of Resolution Mediation Services, LLC and Salim Uqdah of Miles Mediation received the Peace Award in recognition of their longstanding commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes. Kate Deiter-Maradei of Deiter Mediation received the Harmony Award in recognition of significant contributions to dispute resolution over the past year.

Section Chair Will Oden presided over the event and Frank Laney, past section chair and Peace Award recipient, presented the awards.

Peace Award

The recipients were recognized not only for their individual contributions but also for their collaborative efforts. When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, and the pandemic’s impact on the courts and the public quickly became evident, Cox Gruendel and Uqdah joined forces to create a project that became known as the Dispute Resolution Hotline.

Supported by a $500 grant from the section and a $67,000 grant from the Charlotte Executive Leadership Committee, the Hotline ultimately helped the Mecklenburg County courts resolve all of their backlogged civil District Court cases that were appeals from arbitration awards, civil judgments entered by magistrate judges, and orders of summary ejectment evicting residential tenants. Their efforts not only helped hundreds of individuals remain in their homes but also helped hundreds of residents obtain approximately $70,000 in rental assistance.

Amy, a white woman with curly brown hair and brown glasses, wears a blue shirt and black jacket and holds a clear glass award. Salim, a Black man with a beard, wears a blue shirt and a white jacket, and he also holds a clear glass award.

Amy Lynn Cox Gruendel and Salim Uqdah display Peace Awards.

Salim Uqdah founded Uroboros Mediations in 2018 and serves as the only non-attorney neutral on the Miles Mediation & Arbitration panel. He is a graduate of High Point University with a B.A. in Political Science and a B.S. in Psychology, and holder of a post-baccalaureate paralegal diploma from Central Piedmont Community College, where he received the Outstanding Student Award in Paralegal Technology.

Uqdah’s journey in dispute resolution began as a judicial assistant at the 26th Judicial District’s Family Court Administrator’s Office, later moving into roles in the Child Custody and Visitation Mediation Office and the Self-Serve Center. He later trained with esteemed mediators such as Ellen Gelbin, Andy Little, Diann Seigle, and Ketan Soni and is grateful to have observed experienced professionals such as Ann Anderson and Ray Owens.

Uqdah is certified by the NCDRC (North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission) to conduct Superior Court Mediations, Family Financial Mediations, and mediations before the Clerk of Court. He also holds credentials as an Approved Neutral for Georgia in General Civil Mediation and Domestic Relations Mediation, N.C. Certified Paralegal, CDC Certified Divorce Coach, FINRA Securities Arbitrator, and Collaborative Trained Neutral Facilitator.

In addition to serving clients through Uroboros Mediations and Miles Mediation, Uqdah also volunteers for the N.C. Office of State Human Resources in employment mediation and serves on the board of non-profit organizations such as Care Ring and Playing for Others. In late 2024, Uqdah will depart for Australia to pursue a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, thanks to a generous Peace Fellowship award from Rotary International. Uqdah hopes to link the legal dispute resolution industry with international peacekeeping efforts.

As Laney highlighted while presenting the award, Uqdah has been a driving force within the Dispute Resolution Section since his days as the section’s liaison to the Paralegal Division, serving as Pro Bono Committee co-chair from 2018-24. He fostered initiatives such as the compilation of pro bono dispute resolution opportunities with over 100 non-profits, creation of the annual Dispute Resolution Section Pro Bono Survey, and creation of the Harmony Award.

Upon receiving the award, Uqdah expressed gratitude and reflected on its personal significance, saying, “This award enables me to honor my own family’s legacy. My maternal grandfather was a renowned bodybuilder who trained notable figures like Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a strident, self-made man who was no-nonsense, and I hope I am following in his footsteps with a bit of cheeky zeal!”

Uqdah also acknowledged the Power of the Feminine and resilience of working mothers. Addressing his mother, Joanna Harris, Uqdah honored the sacrifices she made to balance the competing demands of work and motherhood. And to Cox Gruendel, who he commended for her contributions to the Dispute Resolution Hotline while maintaining her own practice and juggling the needs of her family, he said, “You not only gave it the best you have, you shone brightly while doing it.”

Amy Cox Gruendel founded Resolution Mediation Services in 2013. The firm provides mediation, civil collaborative law services, and arbitrations for businesses and individuals seeking to resolve civil legal disputes in employment law, the K-12 education arena, commercial disputes, and general tort and contract claims. Through Resolution, Cox Gruendel conducts Superior Court Mediations, mediations in federal court, mediations for the EEOC, and arbitration hearings for the Mecklenburg County courts.

“Amy has a distinguished background in dispute resolution,” Laney stated. “She came to it about 10-15 years ago when she trained as a mediator, and quickly decided that was where she needed to be. She has done a lot of things … and obviously she is a distinguished lawyer.”

A graduate of the University of Michigan and Boston College Law School, Cox Gruendel began her legal career with a federal clerkship then spent the next several years at Womble Bond Dickinson (then Womble Carlyle) learning from mentors like Mark Henriques and Jim Cooley. Thereafter, Cox Gruendel shifted her focus to public interest law and served as a Legal Aid lawyer for a number of years before returning to private practice. Cox Gruendel has also served as adjunct faculty at UNC-Charlotte and was part of the faculty team in the early years of the Charlotte School of Law.

Cox Gruendel credits Andy Little with her passion for dispute resolution. After taking Little’s Superior Court Mediation training course, Cox Gruendel immersed herself in the field, taking courses in advanced negotiations, non-violent communication, collaborative law and many other topics. She is among the founders of the North Carolina Civil Collaborative Law Association and regularly contributes to civil collaborative law training programs.

For the past decade, Cox Gruendel has also helped train hundreds of new mediators across the state through her roles in various mediator training programs.

“For your wide range,” Laney concluded, “but also deep and vast experiences and contributions to the North Carolina Bar Association and the Dispute Resolution Section and the State of North Carolina, Amy Cox Gruendel, it is my honor and privilege to ask you to come forward and accept the Peace Award.”

“It’s a tremendous honor to receive this award,” Cox Gruendel began while thanking the Dispute Resolution Section council. “When you look at the names of all of the folks who have received the Peace Award, I am truly humbled that my name is now on that list.

“I am delighted that I get to share this honor with my good friend Salim. You have been the wind beneath my wings many, many times, and I am so honored to share this with you.” Cox Gruendel went on to thank her husband, Steve Gruendel of Moore & Van Allen, for the sacrifices he has made that have allowed her the freedom to pursue her passions.

Harmony Award

“For those of you who are not too familiar with these awards,” Laney said, “the way I phrase it is that the Peace Award is sort of a lifetime achievement award, looking at your body of work over a long period of time, and the Harmony Award is for someone who has done a whole lot in a short period of time.

“That’s the standard, but my personal experience has been that this could or should be added to the whole collection that Kate has contributed, because she does this sort of stuff all the time.”

Kate Deiter-Maradei founded her alternative dispute resolution practice, Deiter Mediation, in Raleigh in 2013. She is an NCDRC (North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission) Certified Superior Court Mediator and former partner at Teague, Campbell, Dennis & Gorham, LLP, where she began her legal career as a clerk in 2002.

Deiter-Maradei is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University (B.A., Women’s Studies, 2000) and the University of North Carolina School of Law (2003). She is a member of the N.C. State Bar, Wake County Bar Association, N.C. Association of Women Attorneys and the NCBA, where she currently serves on the Board of Governors.

She has also provided volunteer leadership and service to numerous organizations, including the Wake County Commission for Women, where she has served since 2010, and also held the position of vice chair. She previously served on the North Carolina Council for Women, and in 2014 received the NCBA’s Citizen Lawyer Award.

Kate, a white woman with golden brown hair, wears feather earrings and a brightly colored dress with an orange background, pink flowers, and a cheetah print. She stands with Frank, a white man with brown glasses who wears a white shirt and a black suit.

Kate Deiter-Maradei accepts Harmony Award from Frank Laney.

The Harmony Award recognizes individuals who have (1) provided significant pro bono service as a dispute resolution professional; (2) contributed to the development of the field of dispute resolution through volunteerism and leadership; and (3) participated in general civic, community, and charitable efforts in a substantial way. Recipients of the award are recommended to the Nominating Committee by the section’s Pro Bono Committee.

“Kate’s efforts and accomplishments in 2023 are significant and many,” her nominators stated. This includes her work with Essential Partners, Inc., on the implementation of The Friendship Project for 5th graders at Douglas Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh; the ongoing efforts of the section’s Race and Equity Committee and its “Try Something New” Campaign promoting the designation and appointment of mediators of color; additional activities with the NCBA’s Workers’ Compensation Section and Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section; and various civic, community and charitable efforts.

“The Harmony Hotel is one of my favorite places on this earth,” Deiter-Maradei said in accepting the award. “It is a hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica. One of the things I love about that particular spot on this earth is that they take great care to incorporate the local community and respect the environment while they run the bougie hotel. In that very same vein, I think it’s critically important for all of us to strive to incorporate as much pro bono and community service and volunteer work into our practices as possible.

“Many of us in this room – most of us in this room, I would say – have advantages and power that can be channeled into doing good work and helping underserved people.”

Deborah Dilman was the initial recipient of the Harmony Award in 2023.

Previous recipients of the Peace Award are:

2002 – Carmon J. Stuart
2003 – Scott Bradley
2004 – Frank C. Laney
2005 – Jacqueline R. Clare
2006 – J. Anderson Little
2007­ – Judge Ralph A. Walker
2008 – Charlotte Adams, Beth Okum, Tan Schwab
2009 – Chief Justice James G. Exum
2010 – Judge James M. Long
2011 – John C. Schafer
2012 – Judge James E. Gates
2013 – George K. Walker
2014 – M. Ann Anderson
2015 – Mark M. Morris
2016 – Leslie C. Ratliff
2017 – Rene Stemple Trehy
2018 – Barbara Ann Davis
2019 – LeAnn Nease Brown
2020 – Bob Beason
2021 – Roy Baroff
2022 – John Sarratt
2023 – Judge J. Randolph Ward
2023 – Jody Minor

Russell Rawlings is director of external affairs and communications for the North Carolina Bar Association.