The Mediation Center has expanded its services into three more WNC counties while absorbing two other area mediation organizations. Pictured here, from left to right: Jan Woloson, executive director, Dispute Settlement Center; Don Huber, chair of the board of directors, Dispute Settlement Center; Lucy Lawrence, chair of the board of directors, the Mediation Center; Laura Jeffords, executive director of the Mediation Center; Joe Wilbanks, chair of the board of directors, Center for Dialogue; Susan Miller, executive director, Center for Dialogue. Photo courtesy of the Mediation Center.

News from the Mediation Center, released Oct. 11:

On Oct. 1, 2011, The Mediation Center began to serve Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties, as well as Buncombe County.

The past few years have been financially challenging for nonprofits across North Carolina. Community-based mediation services have faced a particular challenge this year because of state budget cuts to mediation funds.

Over the past few months, the Mediation Center has worked with the leadership of the Dispute Settlement Center in Henderson and Polk Counties and the Center for Dialogue in Transylvania to arrive at this absorption agreement, which was approved unanimously by all three Boards of Directors.

The local community funders of the Center for Dialogue and the Dispute Settlement Center have agreed to transfer funding to the Mediation Center in order to continue services in each community.

Laura Jeffords, executive director of the Mediation Center, said “the funds intended for each community will stay in that community – we are dedicated to making sure that each county has the resources it needs and that we honor the intentions of our funders and donors.”

The Mediation Center will maintain a local presence in each community through community-based advisory committees, local offices and board representation from each area.

For more than 75 years combined these three centers have provided mediation, facilitation and training services to youth, families and community members. Together, these programs serve more than 5000 people in Western North Carolina each year.

Lucy Lawrence, President of the Mediation Center’s board of Directors said, “We are honored to have the opportunity to grow this important work in Henderson, Transylvania and Polk counties and to look for ways to meet increasing needs.”

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Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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