The Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP) was established in 1988 to help fund community dispute resolution centers for the purpose of providing conciliation, mediation, or other forms and techniques of voluntary dispute resolution for the citizens of Michigan as an alternative to the judicial process. Between 1988 and 1991, an advisory Committee worked with a handful of centers to develop funding, training criteria, and recommendations on administrative policies and procedures. In 1993 and 1994, plans were developed to expand the program throughout the state.
On October 8, 1993, the Articles of Incorporation for Citizen Dispute Resolution Service, Inc. (now known as Northern Community Mediation) were filed with the Michigan Department of Commerce. The declared purpose of the organization was "to provide education concerning dispute resolution alternatives and to provide mediation and dispute resolution services to the citizens of Emmet and Charlevoix Counties in the State of Michigan." On June 30, 1994, NCM was determined to be exempt from federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3).
The original Board of Directors was as follows:
David Fershee, President
Christina DeMoore, Vice-President
Nancy Goalen, Secretary
Murray Kilgour, Treasurer
Past Executive Directors are Celia Partida Kelly (1995-1996), Kathy Lame (1996-1999), and Maartje Nolan (1999-2003).
From a caseload of 10 cases per year, 10 mediators, a budget of $22,000, and one part-time employee, NCM has grown dramatically. NCM now handles approximately 1,000 cases a year, and has over 55 mediators, three full-time employees and three part-time employee with a budget in excess of $188,000.