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|History of SCMA|
The Southern California Mediation Association's mission is to nurture, expand, and develop the practice, profession, and community of mediation. (Updated, October 2019)
History of The Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA)
The Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) was started informally in 1989 as a series of "mediator roundtables" facilitated by Richard Millen, Ken Cloke and Randolph Lowry, and was officially incorporated in 1991. Its original Articles of Incorporation, signed by Incorporator Professor Peter Robinson, proposed a threefold purpose:
SCMA’s highly regarded educational programs have supported thousands of mediators, and currently include an Annual Conference (usually the first Saturday in November), an annual Employment Mediation Institute, an annual Family Mediation Institute, as well as a myriad of other workshops and webinars designed to nurture and support the mediation community. SCMA also continues to build community amongst mediators regionally by hosting monthly mediator professional development groups in various locations in the region.
SCMA has had a historic role in assisting the Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC) in building alternative dispute resolution panels to help resolve LASC’s increasing volume of cases amidst a limited court budget, shortening litigants’ time to trial and increasing their satisfaction with the court system. In doing so, SCMA has been conscious of the important role court panels play in providing an entry track where new mediators entering the field can volunteer, get experience, and establish their reputations as mediators. SCMA continues to be a staunch supporter of diversity in the profession, advocating that court panels be open to all mediators with appropriate mediation training and practice credentials.
SCMA has spawned two sister organizations in its history. In 2007, Professor Forrest "Woody" Mosten developed a library fund for SCMA to distribute grants to other non-profit organizations interested in maintaining resources for peacemakers in the community; that fund was the forerunner for the 501 (C)(3) organization now known as Kids Managing Conflict (KMC), the SCMA Education Foundation. KMC provides ongoing support for area peer mediation programs. Recently, an SCMA ad hoc Committee on voluntary mediator certification formed a 501 (C) (6) organization known as the Mediator Certification Consortium of California (MC3). MC3 is building an organization that would use professional standards to start credentialing mediators.
Many other renowned mediators have contributed to the growth of SCMA. As noted previously, pre-eminent author and mediator Ken Cloke, whose passion and dedication to the peacemaking process inspires all in the field, along with Richard Millen, often called the grandfather of mediation in southern California, have an award that bears their names presented at the fall Annual Conference each year to the SCMA Peacemaker of the Year. L. Randolph Lowry, founder of Pepperdine’s Straus Institute and educational leader of the southern California mediation movement also has an award that bears his name that is given to those who lead on the cutting edge of educating mediators and peacemakers. Lee Jay Berman donated his time in establishing the first Advanced Track for commercial mediators that now is a regular feature of the Annual Conference. And past President Wendy Kramer ushered in SCMA’s now thriving Mentorship Program for new mediators attempting to build their practices. Of course, there were many other leaders that worked boldly and quietly in the organization and continue to do so, as we work to shape public policy and raise awareness and understanding of mediation with our politicians, judges and court personnel, and community leaders.
Today, SCMA consists of hundreds of active and involved members. Association offers various other benefits to its members including access to discounted educational programs and conferences, discounted mediation hearing space and training opportunities, access to SCMA Professional Development Groups, a listing on the SCMA mediator directory, as well as access to reduced cost professional liability insurance.
While our membership is always growing, as is our attendance and involvement in our annual conference, other conferences, task forces, and study groups, there is always room for good people who share our passion for peacemaking, efficient dispute resolution, and lasting conflict resolution. Whether a person calls themselves a mediator, ombudsperson, conflict resolver, dispute settler, or simply a facilitator, like it is often said, we always have room for one more peacemaker.
SCMA is a tax-exempt association formed as a 501(c) 6, the classification designated for organizations whose primary purpose is the development and promotion of the professional activity.