History

The Wayne Mediation Center
Celebrating Over 25 Years Resolving Disputes

The Wayne Mediation Center began in 1987 as the “Southwest Detroit Neighborhood Reconciliation Center.” It was founded to provide peaceful dispute resolution for the residents of the 3rd and 4th police precincts in southwest Detroit.

Originally under the umbrella of New Detroit, Inc., early funding and equipment was provided by the Hudson Webber Foundation, the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund of the City of Detroit, Detroit Edison, Aetna Insurance Company and New Detroit, Inc. The first executive director was John Robertson.

By 1990, the areas of service expanded beyond southwest Detroit,  so the name was changed to the “Detroit Neighborhood Reconciliation Center.” The Center also joined in the statewide network of community dispute resolution centers provided for in the Community Dispute Resolution Act of 1989, and began receiving its main funding through court filing fees. Jeff Mansour served as Interim Program Director until Sharon Miller was hired as Program Director.

In October, 1993, the Neighborhood Reconciliation Center became legally independent of New Detroit, Inc. The Center began to serve not only the City of Detroit, but also the suburbs of Wayne County, with the 18th (Westland) and 23rd (Taylor) courts sending cases to mediation, as well as the Taylor Police Department and Canton Township Department of Public Safety.  Soon thereafter, with the adoption of new court rules governing court-ordered mediation, a contract was signed with the Wayne County Probate Court, which became one of the Center’s earliest and largest sources of court-referred cases.

In 1994, after 13 years as Executive Director, Sharon Miller stepped down.  Howard Lischeron, previously Deputy Director, stepped into the position of Executive Director with a charge to expand the programs of the Center both in terms of number and emphasis. To reflect and encompass the expanded work being done in the area of mediation throughout Wayne County, the name was changed to the Wayne Mediation Center . At the same time, two offices were consolidated and relocated to Dearborn, more in the center of the County.

Beginning in 2007, WMC began several new program initiatives, expanding its special education mediation, truancy and permanent placement for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. To pursue these initiatives, WMC obtained grants from the Hudson Weber Foundation, United Way of Southeast Michigan and Wayne County.  The Center also began conducting mediator training in conjunction with the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law twice a year and providing scores of recently trained mediators the opportunity to work with more seasoned mediators in delivery of much needed assistance to parties in disputes.

In January 2010, Howard Lischeron retired as Executive Director.  Bernard Dempsey was hired to further the great growth and new initiatives begun under Howard, particularily focusing upon the Center’s youth programs.

Today, WMC still primarily relies upon volunteer mediators and handles over 2000 cases a year referred from numerous courts, schools and agencies in Wayne County.