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In Memoriam: Sydell S. Sloan – A Divorce & Family Mediation Pioneer

In Memoriam: Sydell S. Sloan - A Divorce & Family Mediation Pioneer by Ada Hasloecher{4:36 minutes to read} Our mediation community has lost one of our own. And I have lost a dear friend and mentor. Sydell Sloan passed away on Friday, September 2nd, peacefully and surrounded by her loved ones. For those of us who did not know she was ill, this came as a complete shock. Her illness was sudden, as was her death. We are all still reeling from the news.

I want to tell you about Sydell; not only to keep her memory alive, but to share why her commitment to mediation buoyed us and inspired those who knew her well.

A Divorce and Family Mediation Pioneer

In the early 80s, Sydell was one of the first adopters of divorce and family mediation. The field was in its infancy, and those beginning to practice it were doing it in the shadows. Many put their professional careers on the line, bucking the legal system to do this important and necessary work. Sydell was one of those people.

She was truly one of the pillars of family mediation upon whose shoulders we who followed, stand. She started her professional life first as a school teacher, then became a therapist, and then included family mediation in her life’s work. She was still all of these things—a teacher, a therapist, a mediator—when I came to know her.

Sydell was a character. She could be opinionated, bossy and quite frank. We loved that about her! She did not suffer fools gladly. But she was never petty or mean-spirited. She said what she meant and she meant what she said—never backing down on her principles.

She loved a good debate and held her ground. However, she could be persuaded by a sound and cogent argument, and would change course if she deemed that point of view worthy. You had to earn her respect, but once you did, you were IN.


I served with her on the board of the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation for many years. I always valued her point of view, her sensible logic, and great, good humor. She would make her case, argue for it, but when the vote came down, if it didn’t go her way, she would take her licks, concede with grace and never, ever hold a grudge. I admired that about her.

On a personal note, Sydell was one of my first champions in mediation. She threw my hat in the ring to serve on the Council’s board. Those were remarkable years for me. I always tell people that I was Sydell’s Lana Turner; she took pride in “discovering” me. When we both served on the board, we would drive together to the meetings—most of them in upstate New York—so we had a lot of time to spend alone. She mentored me, lectured me, coached me, encouraged me and argued with me. What a joy!

Sydell was a stalwart steward for our mediation community. A constant presence at our conferences, she always sat in the front of the room for the workshops, seminars, and plenaries. She didn’t want to miss a thing. She co-chaired the downstate conference with Glenn Dornfeld for more years than I can remember, and missed only one annual conference due to an important family event.

I was thrilled when she was awarded the Council’s prestigious Abel Award (named for Steve Abel, the first recipient) for outstanding excellence and commitment to divorce and family mediation.

She was truly one in a million. I miss her already. Our mediation community has lost someone very special and dear to our hearts. I have lost that and more.

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Ada L. Hasloecher

Divorce Mediator / Center Founder
Divorce & Family Mediation Center, LLC
Phone: 631-585-5210
eMail: Info@DFMCLI.com
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  1. Clare Piro September 28, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Very well said Ada. You summed up wonderfully all of the reasons we will all miss Sydell.

  2. Rev. Judith Laxer September 28, 2016 at 11:05 am

    So sorry for your loss and the loss of Sydell in your community.

  3. Daniel Burns September 28, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    What a touching tribute. Thanks for saying so eloquently what many of us are thinking.

  4. andrea gaines September 28, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    what a beautiful memorial to someone I have never met! It sounds as if you were both lucky to have had each other in your lives!

  5. bill hoefer September 28, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Ada – beautiful, heartfelt and accurate. I loved Sydell. I will miss her.

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