Meet Tracy Johnson

By Ashley G. Stollar, Communcations and Outreach Specialist

Tracy Johnson,  Executive Director, Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution, sat down with the Courts Journal recently and answered a few questions.

Courts Journal:  Please tell us a little about your background.  Where did you grow up?  What’s your educational background?

Tracy JohnsonTracy Johnson: I was born and raised in Georgia.  My mom was an educator and my dad was employed by UPS.  I am the oldest of their four children and all of my siblings are now married with children so our once family of six has now grown to a family of 20.  I graduated from Mercer University with my Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services in 1996.  Last year I completed my Master’s Degree in Judicial Administration from Michigan State University.  I have been married to my husband Eric for 23 years and we have one daughter, Virginia, a junior in college who is studying pre-veterinary science and one son, Gil, a 7th grade student.

 

Courts Journal:  Coming into this position, what did you see as the priority for the Commission?

Tracy Johnson: While mediation has become a standard process in many Georgia case management plans, the use of alternative dispute resolution is widely underutilized.  There are still many counties in Georgia that do not have a formalized ADR system which means that there is limited access to alternatives to expensive and prolonged litigation. 

Growth and expansion of local court programs is a priority for the Commission.  Likewise, public education of alternative dispute resolution and how it can be of benefit is also of importance.  In today’s society, most people understand the concept of ADR and recognize terms such as mediation and arbitration.  However, very few know the differences in the processes or how they can be used outside of the court system.

 

Courts Journal:  Now that you’ve been on the job for awhile, what do you see as the main focus for the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR)?

Tracy Johnson: The Commission’s strategic plan focuses on three areas:  conduct research, analysis and evaluation; expand access to dispute resolution; and improve education and communication on dispute resolution for all stakeholders.  These will be the focus areas for ODR moving forward.

 

Courts Journal:  How does the Commission benefit the courts of Georgia?

Tracy Johnson: The Commission provides a statewide system that offers Georgians a high quality, cost-effective alternative to traditional litigation.  The Commission’s support of local judicial ADR programs helps courts better utilize resources by reducing caseloads; promoting higher settlement rates; and increasing access to justice.  By helping litigants focus on their underlying needs and interests, the court allows parties flexibility in options for resolution thereby increasing the likelihood that the resolution of the legal action will address the parties’ true needs and decrease the need for future legal action.

People who utilize ADR are typically more satisfied with the outcome and their court experience, which promotes overall judicial satisfaction.

 

Courts Journal:  Where would you like to see ODR in the next year, five years?

Tracy Johnson: I want ODR to be both locally and nationally recognized.  I want the general public to know about the office and the work of the Commission.  I also want ODR to be known state-wide as a source for education, communication and information.  

 

Courts Journal:  You’re involved with the Georgia Council of Court Administrators (GCCA). What benefit does your experience with GCCA give you in this position?

Tracy Johnson: My participation in the educational conferences has expanded my knowledge base and given me the tools to both understand effective case management and implement sound practices.  Networking with fellow members has also afforded me the opportunity to build strong professional relationships which optimizes collaborative growth. 

My leadership role as an officer has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and has helped me in my own professional development and advancement.  I would encourage anyone and everyone involved in the judicial system to get involved with GCCA.

 

Courts Journal:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Tracy Johnson: This is my dream job and I consider myself very fortunate to have been chosen for this leadership role.

 

For more information on the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution, go to http://godr.org/.

 

 

 

Contact AOC

Administrative Office of the Courts 244 Washington Street, SW Suite 300 Atlanta, GA  30334

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