Building Facilitation Competency Around the Globe
(This article was published in our September 2009 newsletter)
In the last week, I’ve been surprised by the number of people who have actually read my newsletter and looked at the photos. Thanks! Now, I need your help supporting a group of mostly younger facilitators of diverse ethnicities. Here is the story of how we came together. Below, there is a photo of a few of about half of them.
Each year, the International Association of Facilitators holds five or six conferences around the globe. These conferences provide an opportunity for people from all over the world to gather, learn from one another and share their passion for building their own and others’ competency in facilitation skills. In April 2010, I will be co-presenting a workshop called “Walking Our Talk – Welcoming Future Diverse Leaders in Our Field”.
Amongst North American facilitators, we’ve talked for years about welcoming diversity in our profession but have not nearly achieved our goal of representing the many constituency groups of this continent. Notably absent are young adults and people of color. In January 2009, after many years of timidity about taking on this issue, I invited about a dozen young people of color and a few white allies to consider co-learning together around facilitation. I am astonished and grateful at what has transpired in the last eight months. Many of this group chose to accept and a few more have joined. We are about 15 strong now. This group has evolved to become a close knit “family” that meets, chats, works and learns together on many occasions.
So what we’ve created is now a grass roots collaborative model that consists of a co-learning/co-mentoring cohort representing experience, age, ethnicity, and gender diversity. We’ve created a safe, fun series of learning and work experiences to gain skills as professional facilitators. As part of this group of 15, we have three seasoned professional facilitators that are acting as advisors to me and supporters to the group. One of these people is Nanci Luna Jiménez. Nanci has consistently offered us opportunities to work with her and her clients, where appropriate, to learn more about the intersection of facilitation and cross cultural communication. Another supporter of the group is Shoshanna Cogan. Shoshanna is a Vermont, USA, based international trainer and facilitator and consistently supports my practice and has worked with several members of the cohort group in different cities around North America. The third supporter of the group is Linda Ximenes, an experienced facilitator based in Texas, USA, who mainly practices the Technology of Participation (ToP) approach and recently worked with several cohort members in San Jose, California with Nanci and I.
Our model of a co-learning/co-mentoring cohort is a good example of collaboration in action. Both new and seasoned members of the profession of different constituency groups are working and supporting each other to ensure we build competency in facilitation. Our cohort invites every member to take responsibility for ensuring the success of the entire group. We strive to understand, like and capitalize on the nature of our differences in our common quest for excellence, compassion, competency in, and future survival of the field of facilitation.
There are currently 14 -15 active people representing young, middle-aged and older adults, Arab, Asian, African, European, Latino, Indian, Indigenous, and Jewish heritage, experienced and newer, female and male facilitators. Our members hope to practice their skills in the future both here in North America and back in their home countries which include Japan, The Philippines, Nigeria, Taiwan, Iran, Mexico and others. One of our group members just spent her summer in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank doing her internship in dispute resolution studies. Another member is hoping to work extensively in the not-for-profit sector in the Philippines. It’s an amazing group and I’m so honored to be and grow with each of the group members each time we get together virtually or in-person!
Most of the people in this group are hoping to attend the IAF Chicago conference in April and to co-present at this conference workshop. We, however, have a dilemma.
How do we fund many of the group members so they can afford to pay for the travel, the hotel and the conference fee? This is where some of you may be able to help us out. We are looking for ways to raise money for those in the group who need subsidies to attend this conference. Many are young and just starting their careers. The total cost per person to attend the conference is often as high as $1,000. If you know someone who can gladly donate to this cause, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our group will also explore the possibilities of offering our services as facilitators to organizations who cannot afford the usual price of a professional facilitator. In these cases we would accept donations and put that towards the travel/conference fund for our co-learning/co-mentoring group. Call us (503-579-5708) if you’d like us to facilitate some weekend event and donate to our project.
During the IAF North American conference workshop we have been accepted to give “Walking Our Talk – Welcoming Future Diverse Leaders in Our Field”. Every co-presenter (seasoned and novice) will lead an activity to model collaboration and co-facilitation in action. By all sharing our stories (triumphs and struggles) in the workshop, we hope to model equality and humility. We will be inviting broader long-term collaboration for others to form co-learning/co-mentoring groups of diverse people throughout North America and the globe. Our goal in this project is to build facilitation competency around the globe, and to share stories of our passion to change the world, be inspired, and create strategies and measurable actions for bringing diversity, richness and future leaders into the field of facilitation.
Can you help by donating or asking us to facilitate for your organization?