by Linda R. Singer, CDS Founder and President
When I started the Center in 1971, I was one of a small group of lawyers interested in increasing access to ways of resolving disputes in communities and in organizations such as schools, prisons, and hospitals. We were searching for alternatives that would be more readily available than courts and more responsive to the needs of disputants. This motivation, which I described more fully in my later book, SETTLING DISPUTES: Conflict Resolution in Business, Families, and the Legal System (Harper Collins, 2d ed. 1994), has fueled not only the growth and expansion of the Center but the creation of what is now known as the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR.
Over the years the Center has experimented with, developed, operated, and evaluated various ways of settling disputes, primarily through mediation, in neighborhood justice centers, in organizations, and in courts. All of these methods have featured the active participation of the people with conflicts in fashioning resolutions that meet their needs. CDS developed the highly successful mediation programs now available to adult and juvenile offenders and victims; citizens and police officers; to employers and employees with complaints before the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission; and to litigants in many federal and state courts.
I now spend most of my time as a full-time mediator and arbitrator with JAMS: The Resolution Experts. I also maintain my ties with CDS, where I serve as President and conduct periodic training sessions in mediation. I am proud of what CDS has accomplished and look forward to continuing to improve the field we have succeeded in creating.