Folks, here’s my sketch of one of my mediation heroes, Mark Collins, one of the visionaries at the Unified Court System responsible for the incredible network of community mediation centers throughout New York State. Mark is retiring this month, and will devote his time to family, music (most notably Big Head Todd and the Monsters), and golf.
Mark Collins: Looking Back and Looking Forward
by Charlotte G. Carter
Mark Collins, Assistant Coordinator for the New York State Unified Court System’s Office of ADR Programs, worked for 34 years to build the network of Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs) in New York; he will be retiring this month. He was responsible for the supervision of the CDRCs, program funding and evaluation, mediation trainer certification, and the expansion of dispute resolution into family courts. We also honor Mark for his role in founding and partnering with NYSDRA as a professional association, administrator of statewide programs, and as an advocate for our members and the dispute resolution profession.
Mark wove the core values of mediation practice into his professional life. He remained true to the original strands of community mediation, both of which manifested during times of national turmoil and political activism in the 1960’s. One strand flowed from the need for court reform and recognition that the judiciary system was overburdened. The second strand was a broader vision of social justice, and the belief that citizens could be empowered to take control of their own lives, resolve conflict, and preserve personal and professional relationships. While providing oversight to the CDRC network to ensure quality of their processes, he supported their self-determination in terms of capacity building to meet emerging needs of their communities and stakeholders. Mark models transparency and accessibility: one of the many pearls he passed on to his colleagues was the concept of managing while walking around.
Mark’s vision was grounded in practice; throughout his career he has been an ADR practitioner with a particular focus on victim-offender dialogues in serious crimes. He gained a national reputation, and served as board member and Board Co-Chair of the National Association for Community Mediation. Mark provided assistance to other state court systems in their design of community mediation networks. Over the years, Mark has been recognized by many organizations for his contributions to the field including the Lawrence Cook Peace Innovator Award from NYSDRA in 2010.