Michigan Lt. Governor visits Wayne County Dispute Resolution Center


Participating in the Wayne County Dispute Resolution meeting with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist are (l-r) John Sier, attorney and WCDRC board director; Naomi K. Davis, assistant director; Sue Flanagan, director of operations; Zeina Baydoun, executive director; Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist; Judge Kathleen McCarthy, board director; Siham Awada Jaafar; board president; Georgea Cole, court liaison/mediator; and attorney Christopher Webb, Webb ADR.

Wayne County Dispute Resolution Center (WCDRC) recently welcomed Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II to a meeting in Dearborn with representatives of the nonprofit organization board of directors, executive team and mediation specialists.

 WCDRC Board president Siham Awada Jaafar shared the evolution of the Center to its present-day status as a community resource and provider of dispute resolution services to local courts for general, civil and domestic issues in Wayne County.

Of special interest to the lieutenant governor were the Center’s restorative justice and youth programs described by WCDRC Assistant Director Naomi K. Davis. These include special education mediations, restorative practices in the schools, community building circles, truancy prevention, peer mediator facilitation and restorative classroom circle trainings with students and teachers.

The Center’s most recent initiative is “Talk It Out” – a program launched with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. The program enables juveniles, victims, parents and schools to come together and let juveniles hear from victims about how their behavior has impacted them. The program is already demonstrating success in promoting healing and helping juveniles keep their record clean.

Gilchrist was also interested in truancy prevention efforts, particularly while students are working online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Davis told how WCDRC facilitator Antoine Bailey, who does restorative practices, is helping to reduce online truancy at Taylor High School by following up with students, parents, and school staff.

Other topics of discussion included initiatives by Judge Kathleen McCarthy, WCDRC board member and presiding judge of the family division of the Wayne County Circuit Court, to help mitigate domestic violence and allow online filing of personal protection orders.

Zeina Baydoun, WCDRC executive director, shared how the Center is actively referring people to eviction diversion programs and anticipating a potential of 65,000 eviction cases in Detroit alone. “With the help of Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, our next step is to find sustainable solutions to this eviction crisis before the end of the year,” said Baydoun.

Attorney and WCDRC Board Director John Sier added, “The lieutenant governor obviously understands the realities of the funding issues, including for tenants facing eviction, owners confronting mortgage foreclosures, and community nonprofits like ours helping to resolve.”

In summarizing the collaborative meeting, Jaafar expressed appreciation to Christopher J. Webb, a seasoned mediator arbitrator and a director of the Detroit Bar Association, for attending and helping to initiate the meeting with Lt. Governor Gilchrist.

For individuals interested in learning more about WCDRC, with offices centrally located in Dearborn, and to receive details about mediation services, training and volunteer opportunities, visit www.wcdrc.org or call 313-561-3500.


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