Appreciation Gala

Appreciation Gala

Northern Community Mediation (NCM) celebrated its annual, Appreciation Gala on Thursday, May 28. Rather than its traditional, adult social gathering, however, this year’s event was held online via Zoom with over 30 people in attendance. Doug Van Epps, Director of the Office of Dispute Resolution, Michigan Supreme Court in Lansing shared the various ways in which the courts and the legal community in general are continuing to offer services in light of COVID-19. He stressed the important role mediation has played in that process. Van Epps lauded the contribution of NCM’s volunteer mediators and emphasized the fact that NCM is exemplary throughout the state of Michigan.

One of the highlights of the Appreciation Gala is the presentation of the annual award: Advocate of the Year, Veteran Mediator of the Year, Rookie Mediator of the Year, and the prestigious Leah Award.

The Advocate of the Year Award recognizes an individual or organization that is a voice in promoting mediation. The Veteran Mediator of the Year is presented to an individual who not only has excellent mediation skills but also goes out of his/her way to be available for mediation. The Rookie Mediator of the Year possesses the same attributes as the Veteran Mediator of the Year with one exception. This award goes to a mediator who has been mediating for NCM less than two years.

The Leah Award is one that is not necessarily given annually. It is reserved for an individual who has advocated for mediation over the years, has been supportive of NCM, and has promoted mediation creatively.

The 2019 recipients were as follows:

  • Rookie Mediator of the Year – Steve Hall
  • Veteran Mediator of the Year – Denise Drake
  • Advocate of the Year – Cyndy Tonkavich
  • Leah Award – Jenny Deegan


One of the desktop pictures of the attendees at the Appreciation Gala.