I began facilitating as a teenager active in movements for LGBTQ liberation and against police brutality. I am grateful to have learned and grown through collaborations with expert facilitators and organizers like Miriam Yeung, Autumn Brown, Cara Page, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, as well as many teachers at the Hunter College School of Social Work.
I approach both meeting and training facilitation as a transformative healing process. By this I mean that the work, if done well, can help us to heal individually and collectively from experiences of oppression, and allows us to transform the conditions that create these harms.
The following are some of the principles and attributes that ground my work:
Active listening: I listen deeply and encourage others to do so, so that we can better understand each other’s needs and wants. I draw on this skill in restating and synthesizing participants’ viewpoints, towards the goal of formulating proposals and decisions that reflect the group’s vision.
Clarity: I ensure that action items and next steps are clearly defined at the close of any meeting or gathering.
Conflict as opportunity: I believe that instead of avoiding conflict, good facilitation can uncover underlying tensions and allow resolution to emerge.
Creativity: I use a wide range of tools to support group process, including role-playing, writing, drawing, mapping, and movement-based exercises as appropriate to participants’ needs, abilities, and strengths.
Cultural humility: As a white, queer, Jewish non-binary femme, I strive to undo racism and am an aspiring ally to people of color, immigrants, and others who experience oppression because of racial, cultural, and/or ethnic identities. I seek to ground my practice in cultural humility, in which we move beyond “cultural competence” to continually self-evaluate and self-critique the ways in which power and privilege, and especially racism, manifest themselves in our work. I encourage participants to do the same.
Healing Justice and Disability Justice: I believe that a central part of the work of liberation is the work of being well. I see healing as a revolutionary process. To that end, I try to ensure that the meetings I facilitate are sustainable and accessible. That includes multiple breaks, as few “working lunches” as possible, and a deep attention to access needs, both physical and emotional.
Humor: Laughter is powerful. We can do important work and guffaw while doing it – the work often comes out better that way.
Preparation: One of the most valuable parts of the facilitation process for me is before the meeting begins. I seek to gather as much information from and dialogue with as many participants as is possible and practical. The first agendas I circulate are always drafts, waiting for input and critique from all stakeholders.
Radical non-judgment: Informed by my experiences in movements for LGBTQ+ liberation, sex workers’ rights, and drug use harm reduction, I am deeply committed to radical non-judgment for all identities, emotional states, and cultural backgrounds.
Respecting people’s time: As a community organizer with a therapy practice and a busy chosen family life, I know how hard it can be to make time for an evening meeting or an all-day retreat. So I work hard to make agendas that are well-structured and flexible in every respect except time. I compassionately but firmly ensure that conversations are productive and are not dominated by any one contributor. And when I facilitate a meeting or a training, participants can expect to start, and (whenever possible) to end on time.