About Us

Southwest Iowa Mediation Center

The Southwest Iowa Mediation Center was organized in 2008 by a group of judges and legal professionals in Iowa’s Fourth Judicial District. The Center was developed in order to provide mediated solutions to disputes as an alternative to conventional adversarial proceedings. The Center is led by a Board of Directors, each of whom is established in the fields of family law or dispute resolution.


The Center will continually seek to serve the mediation needs of the residents in Southwest Iowa. However, business considerations require the Center to proceed in measured steps in order to address the variety of disputes which may be resolved through mediation services. To that end, the Center’s mediation services will be offered in phases:

Phase I: Provide mandatory mediation and parent education classes in child custody cases pursuant to Iowa Code § 598.15;

Phase II: Create awareness of mediation services among the judiciary, local bar associations, and the public at large;

Phase III: Train, credential, and provide ongoing education for mediators.

Phase IV: Provide mediation services for other family law related matters; and,

Phase V: Expand mediation services to areas of dispute outside of family law.

Organization & Governance

The Center will be organized as a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation under the laws of Iowa. The Board of Directors will conduct routine functions: issuing policy, strategy, hiring, and oversight. Board members will also serve on standing and ad hoc committees as necessary. These committees may include finance, public relations, and professional oversight.


The Center will hire one staff member who will manage and coordinate the day to day affairs of the Center. As the Center expands services, hiring additional staff may be required.

Board of Directors

  • Jon Heisterkamp, President, Attorney at Law, Council Bluffs, Iowa.
  • Honorable Susan Christensen, Judge Fourth Judicial District, Council Bluffs, Iowa.
  • Kris Olson Harmon, School Based Interventionist, Harlan, Iowa.
  • Todd Argotsinger, Attorney at Law, Harlan, Iowa.
  • Vicki Danley, Attorney at law, Sidney, Iowa.
  • Scott Strait, Attorney at Law, Council Bluffs, Iowa.
  • Jeff Visonhaler B.S., Divorce and Family Mediator, Logan, Iowa.


The Center seeks to bring the Fourth District into compliance with the mandate of §598.15 of the Code of Iowa, as well as to facilitate mediated resolutions to such disputes as may be appropriate. These outcomes will be measured through a statistical study of cases processed in the Fourth District, as well as surveys collected from legal practitioners.

The Southwest Iowa Mediation Center is an investment in social capital. When fully realized, the Center will bring the Fourth District into compliance with the requirements of Iowa Code 598.19, benefiting the children in custody disputes. The Center will reduce judicial caseloads, allowing judges more time to address other areas of the law which demand their time. The Center will resolve a variety of disputes between Iowans through mediations, saving individuals money in legal fees which they can invest in their local economy.

In summation, the Southwest Iowa Mediation Center stands to strengthen the social fabric of Iowa’s Fourth District through both tangible and intangible, measurable and immeasurable results. The benefits of the Center’s services will be felt not only by the legal community who initiated the organization, but also by the community at large, specifically by children in custody disputes. In short, the Center will be a symbol of the efficient use of resources to solve problems in the Fourth District, helping to bolster citizens’ trust in the legal system.

Mediation: It’s your solution.