As we reflect on the conversations happening in our community around systemic racism, discrimination and injustice, we reflect on CMS’ role in addressing these issues.

Our mission is to empower people to find positive solutions to conflict. Dispute resolution centers in Washington were established to provide affordable and accessible services to all Washington residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, identification and income, by providing forums in which people can voluntarily resolve disputes in an informal and less adversarial atmosphere than the formal, costly, complex, and adversarial judicial setting. Beyond our formal purpose, our work is deeply inspired by, and learned from, the many indigenous communities who have been using restorative practices for centuries and from community dispute resolution centers that formed during the Civil Rights Movement. Directed by our mission, our guiding state statute, and the history of our field, we are responsible for bringing racial equity and justice to the center of what we do.

We primarily use mediation as our approach for facilitating conflict resolution, relying on our listening and communication skills, impartiality, and compassion. To be good listeners, we need to really listen and really hear what people need. To be impartial, we need to be aware of our own biases, prejudices, and privileges, and we need to be aware of things like the power dynamics in the room. To be compassionate, we need to care about people. We challenge ourselves to become better listeners.

We challenge ourselves to become more impartial. We challenge ourselves to become more compassionate. We challenge ourselves to better understand our community needs and how our work intersects with systemic racism. We challenge ourselves, as volunteers, staff, and board members, to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization for the people and organizations we serve.

We invite you to join us on our journey in creating a more just and caring community.

We thought we could share an excerpt from one of our recent grant applications, where we compiled a list of strategies CMS is undertaking as part of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work.

  1. We offer all of our services on a sliding scale. This helps us remove barriers to participation in our offerings. We frequently find our volunteers and staff through participation in one of our programs.
  2. All recruitment for organization opportunities are thoughtful and include community specific media outlets and partner organizations that serve a spectrum of community members.
  3. In 2019, we started providing trauma training to our volunteers to help better identify trauma in the room during mediations.
  4. We have applied for a grant to fund a Youth Peer Mediation pilot program that would help meet aneed in one of Vancouver’s most racially diverse, lowest income, and underserved middle schools.
  5. CMS adopted a diversity, equity and inclusion policy in 2018 which guides our actions and interests to continuously improve in this area.

Current CMS staff and volunteers have decades of experience working with underserved and marginalized communities and families. We bring this experience to our work as well as an understanding of the need to offer services that are fair and equitable to anyone who needs them.

Board of Directors
Executive Director