Lee Ware Bryan ’61

St. Mary’s-in-the-Mountains graduate, Lee Ware Bryan ’61, embodies the ideals of service to one’s community upheld at WMS/SMS. Read about Lee’s work and accomplishments with Lamoille County Court Diversion Restorative Justice Programs in the article below from the Stowe Reporter.

Stowe woman honored for service
By Tom Kearney, reporter for the Stowe Reporter | Posted online: Thursday, May 31, 2012 2:00 pm

So, how did Lee Bryan of Stowe react when she learned she was receiving a Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service?

“I just burst out laughing,” Bryan said. “I just didn’t see what I was doing as more noteworthy than other people my age, who have semiretired (she’s 68).”

Nonetheless, she’ll collect her award from Gov. Peter Shumlin June 9 at a ceremony at the Statehouse in Montpelier. SerVermont — formerly the Vermont Commission on National and Community Service — hosts the awards, designed to promote and recognize volunteerism and community service throughout the state. Individuals, groups and businesses can win.

Bryan is being honored for her work with the Lamoille County Court Diversion Restorative Justice Programs. Those programs have two parts:
• Diversion, which steers people accused of minor crimes away from the court system, and helps them figure out how to make amends and to stay out of trouble in the future.
• Reparation, in which people who’ve been convicted of offenses must come to grips with the impact their misdeeds had on other people and on society.

Bryan’s been a professional mediator for 21 years. She previously worked at Woodbury College in Montpelier, which was known for its mediation programs (Woodbury closed in 2008 and its programs were transferred to Champlain College). When she moved into private practice, Bryan decided to get involved in the diversion and reparation programs. She wound up on the board of directors of the Lamoille County Court Diversion Restorative Justice Programs, and also joined the Stowe reparative board.

In diversion, Bryan says, “offenders are literally being diverted from going to court, so they can make a contract with the panel, made up of volunteers from the community, and maybe restore some of the damage they’ve done by getting in trouble with the law.”
The reparative board deals with people who have already been to court.

“Rather than going to jail or other penalties, they come to the board in their community, and make a contract for figuring out ways they can make amends for people who were impacted, and to the community,” she said.
Many of the cases involve drunken driving.

“With both diversion and the reparative board, if the folks are part of building their contract with us, they are much more apt to keep it, to be invested in it, and to stick with it” than if justice is imposed on them, Bryan said.

“Restorative justice, to me, means a non-punitive approach to offenders making amends to their community and to the folks who were impacted.”

Bryan was nominated by the people she works with at the Lamoille County Court Diversion Restorative Justice Programs.

The nomination applauds Bryan’s advocacy for restorative justice practices and her volunteer work as a mediator, reparative panel volunteer, and court diversion restorative panel member.

It reads, in part: “In her commitment to this process, Lee has helped over 500 people develop ways to repair harms caused; her compassion has also provided countless opportunities for participants to see themselves in connection to their community.”

Last year, Bryan stepped in to provide administrative support and handle myriad projects on a volunteer basis “until we could increase our staffing,” the nomination reads. “She continues to provide her time to this role on a weekly basis.

“Lee is insightful, genuinely empathetic, and can hold others accountable in a way that humanizes their experience and preserves the integrity of the larger community and herself. … She is highly thoughtful and has expressed introspection on her purpose and how she can continue to succeed in her roles. She creates room for others to do the same in her openness, conversations and presence; this has left a lasting impact on our agency, the community and her colleagues.

“Lee’s experience and skill as a mediator has elevated her contributions to the community, in that she has a natural generosity about her that has gone beyond her own efforts to significantly enrich the ability of other volunteers to make meaningful impacts of their own.
“We estimate that she has contributed over 1,000 hours of service here.”

Bryan and her husband, David, live on a piece of land off Stagecoach Road that her parents bought in 1951, “where I used to hay with my mom and dad,” she said. She and her family moved from Connecticut to Stowe when she was 7. She and David met in third grade at Stowe Elementary School.

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