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Washtenaw United: Turning Conflicts Into Solutions Through The Dispute Resolution Center

Feb 24, 2020

DRC executive director Belinda Dulin
Credit David Fair / 89.1 WEMU

Conflict resolution is not an easy task, which is why the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) was created.  For several years, it has worked toward bringing peaceful and equitable solutions to local conflicts in both Washtenaw and Livingston Counties.  DRC executive director Belinda Dulin joins WEMU's David Fair for a conversation about the center's mission in this week's "Washtenaw United."


WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area.  And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services.  It is a community voice.  It is 'Washtenaw United.'


ABOUT BELINDA DULIN:

DRC executive director Belinda Dulin
Credit Dispute Resolution Center / thedisputeresolutioncenter.org

Belinda Dulin began her employment with The Dispute Resolution Center 2003 as the Mediation Services Coordinator and assisted in launching the Small Claims Mediation Program and the Domestic Relations Motion Day Program.  

In 2006, she became the director of mediation services and was responsible for the development and administration of various civil and family mediation programs as well as facilitating workshops to community organizations.  

In 2007, Belinda accepted the position of Executive Director and continues to expand the DRC’s services.  Under her leadership, she has expanded the small claims mediation program, where mediation is the first step for problem solving in the 14A, 14B and 15th District Courts; and, developed and implemented school-based conflict programs serving students, families and school staff in identifying and resolving barriers and issues that affect students.  Specific services include attendance mediation to identify the barriers consistent school attendance and create solutions that break the pattern of poor attendance, support the family structure and, academic improvement.  Also, the DRC implemented the restorative practices services to address student-student and student-teacher conflict in a non-punitive, supportive manner that allows relationships to be restored, problems to be resolved and support services to be identified to support positive behavior and academic improvement.  

In 2013, also under Belinda’s leadership, the DRC partnered with the Peacemaking Court, providing restorative justice model to families in the child protection and delinquency systems The Dispute Resolution Center serves in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties.  

She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master of Arts degree in Dispute Resolution, both from Wayne State University.  Prior to becoming involved in community mediation, she worked in the corporate setting assisting with employment disputes -- preserving the working relationships between co-workers and employees and management.

Dispute Resolution Center Logo
Credit Dispute Resolution Center / thedisputeresolutioncenter.org

RESOURCES:

Dispute Resolution Center (DRC)

UWWC STATEMENT:

United Way of Washtenaw County has provided grant funding to build the capacity of the Dispute Resolution Center since 2018.  Capacity Building funding is often not spotlighted because it doesn’t always capture the imagination.  But United Way invests in Capacity Building because strong organizations lead to stronger communities. 

United Way chose to invest Capacity Building in this specific organization for several reasons: 

  • The Dispute Resolution Center works to bring restorative justice practices to schools, families, the justice system, and more.  UWWC was especially interested in how this focus on restorative justice can help youth more effectively work through conflict at school and remain through graduation, setting them up for success in life.
  • The Dispute Resolution Center is led by a woman of color.  Investment in local leaders of colors is a priority of our Capacity Building Investments.  There is a lack of diversity of nonprofit board members and executives.  We believe that diverse leadership is an imperative to advancing the work of the nonprofit sector.  Diversity of identity, experience, thought and ideas help nonprofits meet the immense demands required to address the complex issues we face in the sector.
  • The funding provided the opportunity for the organization to receive leadership and governance training and customized assistance from NEW (Nonprofit Enterprise at Work) to help the organization self-identify where they desired to improve and in service of creating a stronger organization.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu