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Tribute to Rita D. Brinley

Rita D. Brinley, the Manager of the American Health Lawyers Association's Alternative Dispute Resolution Service, passed from this life on October 22, 2009. Rita spent the last nine years of her professional life serving the members of the American Health Lawyers Association. She came to the Association after working for seven years at ICBA Bancard in Arlington, VA and five years before that at the Rubber Manufacturers Association. She joined the AHLA's staff as the CEO's Executive Administrator and was later promoted to be the Manager of the Association's Alternative Dispute Resolution Service. Rita served the ADR Service with energy and commitment. She had superior organizational skills, incredible attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and a commitment of service to parties and resolvers. While not a lawyer, Rita knew the Rules of Procedure for Arbitration and Mediation inside and out. She served as a valued resource to resolvers when they had questions about interpretation and precedent. The Board of Directors, the ADR Task Force, and the staff of the American Health Lawyers Association could think of no more fitting tribute to Rita Brinley than to rename this resource center in her honor because she saw her duty every day as acting as a resource for "her" resolvers. Rita will be missed by many members, resolvers and parties, and we hope that those using the Rita D. Brinley ADR Resource Center will pause even if only for a second and remember Rita's years of service and her unwavering commitment to excellence.

Tributes to Rita from AHLA Members and Resolvers

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Rita began her service to the association and its members in the Executive Office. She was the friendly voice on the phone who always knew how to "get things done". As her responsibilities transitioned to the ADR Service her friendly voice soon became the voice of the ADR service. She was a consummate resource for the resolvers and a dedicated advocate for those seeking conflict resolution. It has been my honor to have worked with Rita for several years as a resolver and ADR Task Force member. The successful and thriving ADR Service is a legacy to her passionate professional service which has been entrusted to the AHLA professional staff and the members of AHLA.
-Lisa Diehl Vandecaveye, Esquire

Rita Brinley was a wonderful friend to all of us who worked with her in the AHLA ADR Service. Rita was a consummate professional, dedicated to the resolution of disputes. She encouraged all of us who had the privilege of working with her in AHLA ADR Service initiatives. She treated all of us with the deepest respect and with genuine regard for our callings as dispute resolvers. After several years of having only telephone and e-mail contact with Rita, I got to visit with her in AHLA's Washington, D.C. office several years ago. I will never forget her warm, affirming reception and her genuine interest in what I was doing as an AHLA ADR Service arbitrator and mediator. Rita gave of herself to all of us in ways that enriched us, leaving us with affectionate and appreciative memories that will not dim.
-John Allen Chalk, P.C.  

Rita Brinley took great pride in her position as manager of the AHLA ADR Task Force. She was totally dedicated to achieving a vibrant and successful ADR Service. Her attention to detail and prompt customer service were legendary. Rita also constantly focused on ways to grow and improve the ADR Service. She worked closely with the ADR Task Force members to develop initiatives to promote the ADR Service. It was my privilege as ADR Task Force chair for two years to work closely with Rita to produce teleconferences, in-person conference presentations, and publications to highlight the value of the ADR Service. We will miss Rita's support and zeal as we continue the ADR Service work that she loved.
-Jane Reister Conard, J.D.  

Rita cared so much about what she did and did everything with great attention and care but most of all she cared about other people. Several years ago she severely fractured her wrist and when I asked her how she was feeling the concerns she expressed were not her own pain or discomfort but her regret that her accident and limitations might inconvenience others. That was typical- she always thought about everyone else first, second and third. I worked with Rita for many years both as a dispute resolver and as a member of AHLA's ADR Task Force and will always cherish the assistance and wisdom she gave me in those capacities. However, one discussion that really stands out from the many we had was about our sons. While we were talking about the AHLA Annual Meeting I explained that my young son had a bad experience at summer day camp the previous summer and that I would not be at the meeting that year because I did not want to be away when he started at a new camp. I expressed my fears for my son. She recounted a tale of a similar situation her own son, who by the time we spoke was an adult, had experienced when he was a child, how it was handled and the ultimate outcome. Everything for my son worked out fine also. Rita's gentle guidance, as one mother to another was of such value and comfort. Rita was a very, very special person and I miss her greatly.
-Lisa D. Taylor, Esquire 

I would like to underline Rita's interest and warm welcome to each resolver and individual interested in the ADR service. Besides Rita's dedication to growing the service and encouraging more resolvers to join the panel as a professional matter, she must simply have had a knack for recruiting and making people feel welcome. I suspect that knack was rooted in a genuine warmth and kindness. She brought me into the fold of the ADR Service and then it's Task Force. In the early stages, I could sense her attention to detail and that she wanted to make sure that I performed my parts well. Her encouragement affected my own interest in pursuing involvement in ADR into a much sharper professional focus. She could draw a person out. It was a gift to be able to attend Rita's final viewing on October 25 and to meet her family there. I was overwhelmed but not surprised at the manner, the kindliness of her family. Her influence was palpable. Rita apparently had left them a certain peace as well as the charge to go forward. The ADR Service will take that sense from her as well.
-Jeanne F. Franklin, Esquire 

Though I interacted with Rita for a number of years as a Resolver and had always found her to be the complete professional, I did not have the opportunity to actually meet and get to know her until I was attending the Annual Meeting several years ago. I came to know her as a warm and friendly person, dedicated to success of the Service, and she was later the person who approached me about the Task Force and still later contacted me to tell me I had been appointed to it. Rita was the face and voice of the ADR Service in her dealings with its clients and Resolvers. She was devoted to the success of the Service and the satisfaction of everyone involved in its processes. Its vitality and success today is due in no small part to her dedication and continuous efforts. Rita was not a person who can be replaced, and she will be sorely missed.
-G. Thomas Sullivan, Esquire

Rita always made my job as a panel member pleasant and enjoyable. You had a friend helping you with process issues and she was genuine. I have never been involved in an ADR organization that ran as effectively as what we have at AHLA. It is in large measure attributable to her leadership over the years.
-David Zacks

Over the past few years, I regularly communicated with Rita in my capacity as an AHLA arbitration panelist. She tempered her professionalism with warmth and courtesy, and it was always a pleasure to work with her. I will miss her very much.
-C. Mark Humbert

I had a very difficult arbitration that spanned over a year even though it was originally intended to be expedited. I called Rita several times during this for advice and she was always helpful and responsive to my concerns. I never met her personally but her contact with me over the years and the accolades that have flowed in confirm my regret in not having done so. My condolences to her family and her AHLA colleagues.
-Neil Groberg, Esq.

Rita was a pleasure to work with and gave me, as a panelist in the ADR service, great support and advice. I appreciated the professionalism and sense of humor that she brought to AHLA and ADR. I am sure her family will miss her greatly, just as her AHLA family will. We were fortunate to have her.
-Paul E. Risner

I never met Rita, and that is my loss. Rita was, however, a real and vibrant presence in my professional life. Her notes about AHLA cases and matters were always crisp, courteous and informational. She always communicated what an ADR professional needed to know, succinctly and cogently. Her messages were professional, but somehow always warm. She delighted in answering my questions, and always returned phone calls almost within the hour. She was an invaluable resource. I treasured my relationship with her. She is missed.
-Judith Meyer, Esquire

I was involved with the ADR Task Force when AHLA decided to take the administration of it back in-house and asked Rita to head this effort. Her work to organize and mange this new venture was tremendous. There were a few naysayers who were concerned about the change but, due a lot to Rita's work, it turned out to be a both a public service to AHLA constituents and a financial benefit to AHLA. She was truly dedicated to making the Service the best alternative dispute resolution provider for health care. She was always looking at ways to improve the Service, and improve the benefits of the Service to AHLA, resolvers and users of the Service. I saw first hand her dedication, tremendous attention to detail, and her desire to ensure the Service was operated the right way. I very much enjoyed working with her and I will miss her very much.
-Elise Dunitz Brennan

Rita was a very dedicated leader who always made the resolution process a high calling. We will miss her leadership and personal touch.
-Judge Os Chrisman

Rita was the first face of AHLA for me. Rita was always responsive, always appropriate, and forever patient. We will miss her.
-Cecilia H. Morgan

What a perfect tribute to Rita to have the ADR Resource Center named in her honor. Rita was the Resource Center and helped us as mediators, our clients and their clients to truly understand and appreciate the value of resolving disputes without litigation. Her spirit infiltrated the Center and it guided those with disputes to better and lasting resolutions of their differences. Her spirit will live on in those relationships which were reconciled through the process of mediation. Thanks to the AHLA and the Task Force for granting her this honor.
-Jeffrey O. Ellis, J.D.

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