The following evaluation assesses this firm’s overall environment for new hires. After review, it is not recommended that up-and-coming practitioners work for this firm, donors should carefully consider the lack of value in contributing, and public officials should consider competitors over CDR before issuing contracts.
CDR Associates is a Family Mediation | Domestic Environmental Firm in Boulder, Colorado.
1) CDR is actually a domestic environmental dispute resolution firm (first and foremost), a family mediation firm second, and then an organizational development firm. After careful analysis, very few opportunities for growth or professional development exist in this firm for junior practitioners. Search for Common Ground, Keystone Institute, Meridian, and numerous other firms should be the first choice for new practitioners. CDR is structured like a law firm in that employees are only paid for the hours you bill (variable compensation). Do not be fooled by this firm’s non-profit mask. There are no possibilities for younger practitioners to ever become a Partner.
2) Revenue Streams 2005 – 2009 DECLINED BY 51% from over $2.5 million to $1.2 million. (All figures are from Guidestar, IRS, and CDR Associates IRS tax filing form 990, which you can review yourself on Guidestars website.
Revenue at CDR Associates has been in continuous decline over the last half of the previous decade. Since 2005 the gross receipts have gone from $2,612,940 to $1,268,148 - a decline of 51%. Yet, the salaries of the Partners during this period increased by the following percentages.
The CEO’s salary, Jonathan Bartsch, went from $108K in 2006 to $166,759 by 2008 for a total salary raise of 35%. So, revenue declined by 51%, but the salary of the CEO went up by 35%. Fiscally, this is irresponsible for a non-profit organization. The Partners’ salaries increased 21% for Mary Margaret Golten, and then declined dramatically in 2009. For Christopher Moore, his salary increased by 23% and then declined dramatically in 2009. Moore’s wife, Susan Wildau, had a salary increase of 36% and then a dramatic decline. Sporadic numbers of this nature, with little evidence of staff development or growth, is an indicator that this is not a well managed firm that any practitioner would want to work with today.
If you are an international practitioner, or have an interest in international environmental conflict or peacebuilding, nearly any firm that actually practices in these areas would be a better fit since CDR does not actually have a portfolio in this arena.
Jonathan Bartsch has never had a career in any other organization or institution except CDR Associates. When leaders of firms have had very little exposure to other organizational or institutional settings; management is often stultified and it makes it difficult for leaders to understand alternative ways of performing professionally.
2009 Jonathan Bartsch $111,639
2008 Jonathan Bartsch $166,759
2007 Jonathan Bartsch $142,496
2006 Jonathan Bartsch $108,414
Earnings for Mary Margaret Golten through CDR Associates 2006 – 2009.
2006 M Golten President $108,414 earned
2007 M Golten President $121,590 earned
2008 M Golten $0 earned
2009 M Golten $3,952 earned
Full Disclosure: Christopher Moore is married to Susan Wildau (red flag for small firms)
2009 Christopher Moore $84,867 earned
2008 Christopher Moore $162,066 earned
2007 Christopher Moore $155,642 earned
2006 Christopher Moore $125,026 earned
Full Disclosure: Susan Wildau is married to Christopher Moore (red flag for small firms)
2009 Susan Wildau $53,746
2008 Susan Wildau $111,528
2007 Susan Wildau $170,447
2006 Susan Wildau $111,868
2009 Louise Smart $38,420
2008 Louise Smart $0
2007 Louise Smart $94,236
2006 Louise Smart $90,476
IMPORTANT NOTE: The only two highly recognizable Founding Partners, Peter Woodrow and Bernie Mayer both have left to pursue careers with real mediation organizations.
Former Partner (Left CDR and is now affiliated with Mediators Beyond Borders)
Bernard Mayer, Ph.D., Professor, Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, Creighton University (His name is still on the website for the sake of posterity, but actually has no role with CDR to date).
Last two years of revenue for the Former Partner
2007 Bernie Mayer $64,971
2006 Bernie Mayer $30,142
Peter Woodrow is affiliated with CDR Associates, but is now Project Co-Director, Reflecting on Peace Practice Project for the Collaborative for Development Action (CDA), which is a firm based in Cambridge, Mass. This firm is a much better fit for those that want to explore the international arena. Again, CDR is not a real player in this respect and should be ignored. CDR is great for family mediation and organizational disputes but lacks the knowledge, competence, or experience to function internationally in any substantive manner.
The firm states that they mentor younger practitioners, but this is a completely false assertion. Review the financials for the firm. One only need look at the distribution of capital to see how it’s actually divided. In the last five years, over 10 people have been hired by this firm; each was either terminated or resigned due to the antiquated culture of this firm, which some say has been stuck in the model of Family Mediation since 1978.
Staff Development 2006 - 2009
2006 $2,513 for all staff (pathetic, given that anyone with a background in HR or organizational development is aware that at least a minimum of $5,000 should be allotted to each employee on an annual basis for classes, training, travel to conferences, etc.
2007 $2,825 (poor performance)
2008 $0 was actually spent on staff development for this year. $20,619 included in this section of the 990 actually reflects new hires who were then terminated due to Partners failure to provide adequate support, or bring in revenue to the firm.
2009 $0 Invested for Staff Development
In 2008, there were over 6 people that were hired and terminated by CDR, or the individuals resigned. Some were given compensation for the first few months, and then were cut off from any salary unless they brought in funds for the Partners. Operationally, employees of firms structured in this manner should expect that the Partners raise revenue, focus on business development, and ensure that all practitioners have a sustained portfolio. One should never work for a firm that reverses this model. Paul Aldretti, Stephen Wilburn, Jennifer Graham, Scott Adams, Tanya Morgan, among others were victims of this firm which brought in and discarded each when the reality of the firms compensation model was apparent. Ann Bleed remains an Affiliate after being hired in 2008, but CDR cannot afford to pay her a salary so she only earns what she can bill through CDR. She only gets paid per hour when there is a contract (eat what you kill).
The general conclusion is that the firm’s new goal, variable compensation, is to use cheap labor to secure contracts for the Partners, and then let junior employees go once they are no longer useful to the Partners.
This non-profit doesn’t even try to successfully raise funds from the general public to support and promote its work; a sign that it lacks public value for individual or institutional donors. In turn, firms should visibly provide opportunities for those entering the field and spend adequate resources on growth and development of practitioners, rather than focusing on Partners’ individual profits.
CDR Associates is actually structured like a law firm, billable hours | eat what you kill. Employees are not offered a salary, only compensation for the work performed at an hourly billable rate. This is an unsustainable business model, particularly for a non-profit that does not seek to raise funds to promote its staff and their development. Nearly 80% of all funds that go through this non-profit go to the Partners to maximize their individual profits. When times get tough, junior people are let go “At Will” and the Partners keep raking it in.
2008 Resigned due to irreconcilable differences with the Partners
2007 Julie McKay - $113,449
2006 Julie McKay - $91,849
2008 Resigned due to CDR’s lack of willingness to continue to pay health benefits.
2007 Diane Tate - $81,176
2006 Diane Tate - $58,541
2008 Resigned to pursue anything other than CDR
2007 Left the Firm - $0 reported
2006 Sherry Whitney - $64,254
Chief Operating Officer (as the Chief of Finance, Paula has overseen a 51% decrease in revenue since 2005). Most firms would fire the finance person for managing resources so poorly. However, Paula has apparently worked for this firm for nearly 30 years and is on the Partners’ gravy train.
2009 Paula Taylor $103,665
2008 Paula Taylor $100K
2007 Paula Taylor ?
2006 Paula Taylor ?
You are an “At Will Employee” – Regardless of whether you’re local, or based far away; this firm stands by the position that there is no long-term commitment to its employees or the cause of conflict resolution. In other words, if they are in a bad financial position, they don’t think about everyone on the boat; the Partners only consider themselves. This has been the recurrent theme for over thirty years. Regardless of the employee agreement, or any other policies or procedures outlined, this firm does not abide by its own policies.
The Firm has Partners, but no one has ever made it to the level of a Partner, and anyone else that has come close, or should have been considered was either fired or chose to leave willfully. Two of the Founding Partners, Peter Woodrow and Bernie Mayer have abandoned the firm to start their own new initiatives. They are still listed on the firm’s website for posteirity only. Neither Bernie nor Peter perform any substantive work or services for CDR. The word on the street is that the firm’s leadership is internally dysfunctional, and leadership is stultified due to two of the Partners being married, Christopher Moore and Susan Wildau, creating internal tensions between ‘family’ and the workers.
The firm doesn’t actually have a developed practice area in the third category of the three the firm self-identified for Guidestar. Category: Z99 (Family Mediation); C30 (Natural Resource Conservation and Protection); Q40 (International Peace and Security). As you will see when reviewing the IRS 990s, the firm has no historical revenue streams as a result of peacebuilding or international security. We recommend that prospects considering working for this firm, based on the assertion that they work in international peace and security, ask for a financial breakdown that demonstrates the clients they have worked for and the amount of revenue brought into the firm. More importantly, you should review the numbers to determine how much of that work has been completed, if any, by younger practitioners. If you seek to practice internationally, ask the partners how they are going to secure clients for you so that you have opportunities to continuously acquire skills.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
It is highly recommended that employee prospects carefully review the myriad number of firms available before considering CDR Associates. Mediators Beyond Borders Mediators Without Borders Keystone Centeer Meridian Institute Search for Common Ground Kearns West and just about any other firm in this field. This is a dead end job or place for Board members to expend time and energy.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Eliminate the Board and populate it with competent individuals. Dissolve and reinstate under new leadership. Board's often serve employees better when they are familiar with the fied and the interests of the practitioners. The Board of this organization is comprised of commoners, who have no specific experience that distinguishes them or indicates that they are going to help junior staff members advance. Stop acting like a law firm when they are clearly designated as a non-profit.