Friends of FMCS History Foundation

The history of dispute resolution, mediation and arbitration

The First Woman Mediator Hired by FMCS

In December 1968, Nancy C. Fibish was the first woman hired by FMCS since its creation in 1947. Her hiring ended a 21 year FMCS practice of hiring only men. The United States Conciliation Service (USCS), which FMCS replaced in 1947, had several women mediators who transferred to FMCS. Only one remained when Fibish was hired. Luckily, she was stationed in Chicago, and she retired two years after Fibish’s hiring. That was likely helpful for Fibish to have a woman mentor with a very similar personality.

Born April 24, 1934, Nancy Fibish earned a Bachelors degree in 1957, became a Fulbright Exchange student in France, and developed a strong French fluency. She worked as a social worker for several years, before spending three years (1960-1963) at University of Chicago working on a Masters Degree in Sociology and as a research assistant. In 1963, she worked again as a social worker until 1967

In April 1967, she was hired as an Intern by  the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago. She subsequently became a Field Examiner before leaving in November 1968 to join FMCS as a GS-12 mediator in Chicago. In 1970, she was transferred to the FMCS Field Office in Washington D.C.

In 1974, she was selected for a nine month Fellowship Program on Congressional Operations for Executives, sponsored by the Civil Service Commission and the American Political Science Association.

At the end of her fellowship in 1975, Nancy returned to FMCS and was assigned to the Mediation Office at FMCS Headquarters, where she assumed responsibility for administering the 1974 amendment to National Labor-Relations Act. That amendment added additional responsibility to FMCS for dealing with labor relations in the non profit health care industry.

In April 1980, she was detailed to the Office of Personnel Management. She returned to FMCS to accept an appointment as District Director for Cleveland in 1982.

In February 1983, she was separated by FMCS and transferred to the State Department’s Foreign Service. Her subsequent appointment as a Foreign Service Officer was confirmed by the Senate on May 1983. As a Foreign Service Officer, she served in Washington D.C., London and Belgrade, Serbia.

Following five years with the State Department, she became Executive Director of the Maine Public Employee Relations Board from October 3, 1988 to December 28, 1990.

In 2017, Marc P. Ayotte, the current Executive Director of the Maine Public Employee Relations Board, remembered Nancy as “an able administrator, focusing particularly on the agency’s mediation service.”

Nancy C. Fibish died in January 2002 at age 68.

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