Mary Lee is a Program Coordinator and Professor in the Faculty of Business at Humber College. In addition to her long and distinguished career in the administrative justice sector and the Ontario Public Service, Mary has spent more than 25 years teaching in the continuing education program and the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Graduate Certificate program at Humber College. Mary is passionate about embodying the holistic lens of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in her teaching career–a systematic inquiry into teaching practices that informs improvements to academic programming and enhances students’ learning outcomes.
After spending 35 years in the provincial government ministries, boards and tribunals, Mary decided to dedicate herself to a full-time teaching career at Humber. With rich expertise in mediation, adjudication, operations, and business services, Mary brings to her classrooms a wealth of knowledge and expertise that she has gained through her work experience. As Mary continues to inspire and educate students and excel in her teaching career at Humber, Mary also holds the position of Chair with the Toronto Licensing Tribunal, and Board Member at Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO). Mary shares that these experiences and challenges help her stay up-to-date and inform her of current developments and advancements and ensure that her classroom lessons include the latest developments in the field. Reflecting on her decision to teach, Mary states:
“I wanted to share my knowledge, experience, and skills with students who are just embarking on their careers in the ADR field. At Humber, I’m able to combine my passion for dispute resolution with my passion for teaching.” —Mary Lee
Mary is the former Executive Director of the Local Planning Appeals Support Centre. Mary’s extensive experience with conflict and alternative dispute resolution provides her with a unique lens of leadership intertwined with empathy and service.
One of Mary’s initiatives benefitting both her students and the larger community is the Humber Dispute Resolution Clinic that launched in 2019 through partnership with IGNITE, the student union of Humber, and St. Stephen’s Community House. The Dispute Resolution Clinic connects students from the ADR graduate certificate program who have received conflict coaching and mediation training with fellow students and community members who are seeking to resolve disputes. Mary notes that the benefits of the on-campus clinic extend beyond the community members who are receiving consultation; the ADR students are also able to apply their classroom learning to real-life cases and can count the experience towards their mediator certification requirements.
“The Humber Dispute Resolution Clinic is open to Humber, Guelph students and the community members in Etobicoke. The clinic benefits both ADR students and the larger community. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.” —Mary Lee
Mary has completed her Master of Laws (LL.M) degree, specializing in Alternative Dispute Resolution, at the Osgoode Hall Law School. During her studies, Mary was able to gain her first exposure to a major research project—she designed and implemented an early resolution dispute process at the Social Benefits Tribunal. The resolution process created an opportunity for people who were receiving social assistance and disability benefits to resolve their dispute outside of the formal adjudication process. The process has been implemented and evaluated, and it’s still a mainstay today that benefits many community members.
Mary’s current research project, “Digital Transformation of Ontario’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Sector”, is a collaboration with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (ADRIO). As the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have abruptly shifted the ADR sector towards the use of online dispute resolution and virtual platforms for courts, tribunals, and other dispute resolution processes there is a need to identify new and evolving opportunities and practices in the ADR sector and promote better understanding of the needs and challenges experienced by all ADR stakeholders. When asked about the inspiration of the research topic, Mary responded:
“Some of the questions that catalyzed the research project are: What is the impact of the pandemic on the ADR sector? Are there any growth opportunities? What professional development opportunities should we focus on to support both emerging and experienced professionals? The research team conducted a needs assessment to determine what type of digital transformation is needed. That’s how this project got up and off the ground.” —Mary Lee
The research project aims to identify employment and professional development opportunities, improve public awareness and understanding of dispute resolution processes, and identify an online digital tool that will transform how ADR practitioners will interact with their clients.
The research project team has recently received the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Engage grant ($25K). The research aims to be the foundational benchmark of ADR research, the foremost of its kind in Ontario’s history.
Get to know Mary a little better. Here are five things you did not know about her
- Favourite book: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
- Favourite song: “Let It Be” by Beatles
- When not at work: Practising yoga and meditation
- Favourite social media: LinkedIn
- Coffee or tea: Coffee during the day; tea at night
We acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Nous remercions le Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG) de son soutien.