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 in Olympia that revolves around systems thinking, leadership, inquiry practice, and the art of conversation. See the current schedule for specific information for each gathering.

I’m part of the Stewardship Team for the Authentic Leadership Community of Practice, guiding the learning of our regional group. Send me a note if you’d like more information about this community. A website for this work will be available in late September 2019!


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. Here are descriptions of my 2019 workshops. I work with the client group or organization to customize a particular workshop to meet their learning needs. Please call me or send an email if you would like to discuss bringing a workshop to your organization or community. I recently began to offer a version of the workshop titled “Systems Wisdom” for the University of Washington’s Professional and Organizational Development department.

Co-learners include individual leaders, educators, non-profit boards, graduate students, and teams within private and public-sector organizations. For the last five 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.

Academic teaching

I taught “Systems Intelligence for 21st Century Leadership” at St. Mary’s College of California for 10 years. This 7-week online course (bracketed by two in-person executive weekends) was offered once or twice a year in the M.A. in Leadership Studies program. The course addressed globalization and leadership in the context of systems thinking. Due to decreasing enrollment, this program no longer employs adjunct faculty, so it’s possible I won’t teach at St. Mary’s again. But I remain hopeful that the program will return to its former vigor!

For many years, with a colleague, I provided a day of learning for each new cohort in the Leadership Eastside program, introducing public sector leaders to systems thinking and adaptive leadership. I’m no longer doing this work due to logistical challenges, but our content is being delivered by others.

I recently was invited to offer a course on “Systems Wisdom” for the University of Washington’s Professional & Organizational Development department. I taught this course for the first time in August 2019 and again in February 2020, and will continue in this cycle for the “foreseeable” future. I recently proposed two additional courses to be considered for inclusion in the POD offerings.

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 meetings and conversations, and design and deliver training for private and public sector organizations. A recurring offering is the Art of Hosting (aka Art of Participatory Leadership) three day training.

Since January 2015, I’ve also been affiliated with The Athena Group, a consulting firm in Olympia.  Most of this work is in the public sector.

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
  • staff of a nonprofit organization experiencing rapid significant growth
  • 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


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, where I served on the Board of Directors for ten years. 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 Community Cafes (World Cafe) in Olympia in 2016 about racism and fair policing, stemming from a policing shooting of two young black men in May 2015. My contribution in this situation was 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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