35 Years of Getting to Yes: San Francisco's Community Boards

Jun 13, 2011

Host: Lauren Meltzer

Producer: Susan Britton 

We've all felt the stress that arises from a dispute with a neighbor, a conflict with a co-worker, an argument with a landlord, or a longstanding disagreement with a family member. And some of us have experienced what can result when conflict goes unchecked, including costly lawsuits, property damage, and even violence. But for the past 35 years, one organization has been making a big difference in helping San Franciscans find quick, inexpensive, and lasting solutions to their conflicts. Community Boards, the longest-running public mediation service in the country, has trained over 16,000 volunteer mediators and assisted in the resolution of more than 46,000 disputes in the city alone -- with a satisfaction rate of more than 85%.

How does the mediation process work? Are some disputes simply impossible to mediate? Has our legal culture -- and culture at large -- evolved to become more accepting of mediation?  And how can you take advantage of Community Boards' resources, or even become a mediator yourself?


  • Darlene Whyda, Executive Director, Community Boards. She is also a faculty member of City College of San Francisco, where she teaches courses in public health and conflict resolution in the workplace.
  • Liora Kahn, Mediation Program Manager, Community Boards.
  • Jay Folberg, Professor Emeritus and Former Dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law and author of numerous texts on conflict resolution. He is now a mediator and arbitrator with JAMS, an international dispute resolution provider.
  •  Tom Ruiz, Executive Director of Labor Relations and Lead Negotiator for the San Francisco Unified School District.