My Work in the World

What I’m Doing Now

First Wednesday Conversation in Olympia

Each First Wednesday (since July 2007) I convene a conversation at Traditions Cafe in Olympia. All are welcome. Our conversations revolve around systems thinking, leadership, inquiry practice, and the art of conversation. See the current schedule for specific information for each gathering in 2016.

I’m also part of a hosting team that convenes a conversation every second Thursday (since January 2013) at the Olympia Senior Center on the topic of “The Age of Active Wisdom” and the role of elders in the community.

Workshops

On my own and in collaboration, I design and present workshops on systems thinking, adaptive leadership, convening for change, and ways to work better together in organizations. These learning experiences vary from short facilitated conversations to full day workshops. Co-learners include individual leaders, educators, non-profit boards, graduate students, and teams within private and public-sector organizations. For the last three years I’ve helped a group of college biology professors think about systemic change in their departments.

I’m also part of the Community Cafe Collaborative, a grassroots group that helps parents develop their own leadership to strengthen their families and the community. This work is based on the Five Protective Factors, the Art of Hosting, Appreciative Inquiry, and Internal Family Systems. We offer workshops and orientations all over Washington and the country, and provide ongoing technical assistance (coaching) to emerging hosting teams. In November 2015 I presented two full day orientations in Vermont, with my dear colleague Robin Higa.

Academic teaching

I teach “Global Contexts for 21st Century Leadership” at St. Mary’s College of California. This 7-week online course (bracketed by two in-person executive weekends) is offered two or three times a year in the M.A. in Leadership program. The course addresses globalization and leadership in the context of systems thinking.

With a colleague, I provide a day of learning for each new cohort in the Leadership Eastside program, introducing public sector leaders to systems thinking and adaptive leadership.

I am occasionally invited by colleagues to present a “day of systems thinking” to their students at The Evergreen State College.

Consulting with organizations

I design and host retreats and ongoing learning conversations for non-profit and public sector leadership teams, facilitate focus groups, and design and deliver training for private and public sector organizations.

Since January 2015, I’ve also been affiliated with The Athena Group, a consulting firm in Olympia.  Notably in 2015 we (I and a colleague) helped the Seattle Housing Authority develop their next five year strategic plan.

Convening people

I convene groups of people for meaningful conversations about significant change. I’ve hosted gatherings of

  • citizens concerned about racism and fair policing,
  • leaders interested in evolving a learning organization,
  • citizens interested in Collective Impact,
  • software engineers interested in better teamwork,
  • parents and teachers interested in stronger family relationships,
  • parents, students and teachers concerned about the future of science education,
  • veterans seeking greater visibility in the larger community,
  • students seeking to understand and appreciate diversity in their community college,
  • parents seeking meaningful conversations as a means to change,
  • alternative high school students, parents and teachers seeking to build and nurture community,
  • citizens imagining the future of their community.

Pro bono & volunteer

I do a significant amount of pro bono and volunteer work in my community. Prominent among these contributions is my commitment to Garden Raised Bounty in Olympia. I’ve served on the Board of Directors for six years and am currently serving on the Executive Committee as Past President. I’m committed to this particular organization because it takes a systems view of social justice, it focuses more on the long term than the acute need, and it is incredibly attentive to walking its talk. And, they grow a lot of food for the community.

Many of the conversations I design/host in the community are as a volunteer. This includes a recent Community Cafe (World Cafe) in Olympia about racism and fair policing, stemming from a policing shooting of two young black men in May 2015. My contribution in this situation is to help hold space for citizens to talk to each other about difficult questions, and to create a space that allows law enforcement to participate in the conversations.

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