Inspiring People. Growing Organizations. Strengthening Communities.

News Updates

New Publication! Facilitation And Evaluation

I co-edited this issue of New Directions in Evaluation to bridge the views of these two fields. More



How will we write the next chapter of the story of race in America?

Using Art of Hosting and Conflict Transformation: An event in Houston, Texas.    More


New Results on Girls' Lives in Afar

Why is it hard to change attitudes about girls' education? Because in poor countries, it's more complex than you may think. Check out the results of this study funded by Girlhub Ethiopia More


Photo courtesy of Girlhub Ethiopia ©2013


Arts in Evaluation

My webinar on the use of Arts in Evaluation is now available online.  More


Rita's Blog

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Jan 19, 2017
Category: Antiviolence 
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Leadership 
Category: Antiracism 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

By Rita S. Fierro, Ph.D. and Quanita Roberson, M.A.

 We have work to do. The election of Trump has ripped the bandaid off our modern myths of justice, revealing the collective wounds we swept there after the Civil Rights Movement.  While our society shifted to a more inclusive society in the 1960s, fifty years of good intentions does not erase 350 years of horrific deeds. 

Our wounds have been festering for centuries, cyclically reopened by violence. We are now being called to face our demons and to heal more fully, together. 


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Nov 12, 2016
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Antiracism 
Category: What is an inclusive conversation? 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Category: Tips for inclusive conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

On Wednesday, we found out that Donald J Trump is our president-elect. I spent the day grieving for what I thought the next ten years of my life would look like, for me and the children I’d like to bring into the world. Outrage got him elected. Outrage now grows in those of us who have begun marching. I spent the campaign season reassuring myself that 60 years of desegregation, activism, and coalition building could not have happened in vain. That we were a better people, a more united people, than it seemed. That the violence, the hate, was the minority of us, and Trump’s campaign would become just a bad dream. I was wrong.

The violence is rising.

When I guide groups through frustration and outrage, I say it’s time to tend to the margins. In this case, the margins have become 50% of the popular vote.

For our series on inclusive conversations (conversations where differences are seen as an opportunity, not a threat), tip #7: Look for wisdom in the outrage.


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Jul 15, 2016
Category: Antiviolence 
Category: Racism 
Category: Art 
Category: Art and Social Justice 
Category: Antiracism 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

African American people taught me how to live well, at peace, while feeling like a fish out of water. It hurts to watch how many people, and our media, assume that violence is norm in Black culture. 

By the standards of most Americans I am an incredibly weird person. I am an Italian American woman who spent seven years studying African American culture in college, first for a Master’s in Sociology, then a PhD in African American studies. I left a life in Rome, Italy, the eternal city, to study in Philadelphia. I wish I could make a collage with the look on people’s faces, of all colors, when I tell them what I just told you. 


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Jun 14, 2016
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Participatory Leadership 
Category: Leadership 
Category: Antiracism 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Category: Tips for inclusive conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

When you take a stand, it doesn’t have to be you against the world. Taking a stand can also inspire a group to be the best it can be.

Until now, all the tips on inclusive conversations were about being receptiveasking questions, and listening. Today’s tip switches gears: it’s about taking a clear stand in the presence of flawed process.


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Apr 13, 2016
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Participatory Leadership 
Category: Art of Hosting 
Category: Leadership 
Category: Emergence 
Category: Antiracism 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Category: Tips for inclusive conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

In the last blog, I listed a self-care tip for having inclusive conversations: choosing when and where to invest your energy. Inclusive conversations are conversations where differences are seen as a resource instead of a threat. These conversations can be tricky because differences can bring up fear, hurt, or anger.

Today's tip is also about self-care. If you're not taking care of yourself in a conversation, or hosting yourself, and being present, as the Art of hosting’s four-fold practice would put it, then it's unlikely that the conversation will be productive. Inclusive conversations are often hard and courageous conversations. So today's tip: Look for allies and build support before you jump in.


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Mar 25, 2016
Category: Antiviolence 
Category: Education 
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Participatory Leadership 
Category: Art of Hosting 
Category: Antiracism 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Category: Tips for inclusive conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Many friends have talked to me about struggling with Facebook posts on their "friends' " timeline especially in this time of heated presidential debates and recent tragic terrorist attacks in Nigeria, Lebanon, Mali, Turkey, Ivory Coast, Belgium, and Pakistan. Some posts were prejudicial, others blatantly racist. The way Facebook is structured, someone's status shows up on our feed, so many of us feel the need to "call out" misinformation and prejudice, and feel deeply disturbed when we choose silence. It is known that reacting to Facebook posts can create more trouble in relationships and friendships.


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Feb 16, 2016
Category: Antiviolence 
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Participatory Leadership 
Category: Art of Hosting 
Category: Antiracism 
Category: Why Invest in Inclusion? 
Category: Why invest in inclusive conversations? 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Category: Italiano 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

"What is it about you Americans?” a friend in New Zealand said to me a few months ago, “Why are you so resistant to the common good?" The state of panic, fomented by some presidential candidates, reminds me of that statement. Inclusive conversations are defined as conversations where differences are leveraged as a resource, not a threat. For this issue, I’m addressing practicing inclusion for our common good.


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Oct 27, 2015
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Antiracism 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Category: Tips for inclusive conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Tip #1. Open the door mindfully.

How a conversation begins is everything. It’s like not knowing what’s behind a door, so we have to be careful of how we open it. I’ve learned that to have an inclusive conversation, I have to be mindful of how I open the door to the conversation. I pay attention to what I say and the impact of my words and actions.


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Sep 1, 2015
Category: Antiviolence 
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Participatory Leadership 
Category: Antiracism 
Category: What is an inclusive conversation? 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Ever feel that having a conversation in a productive way when people have different perspectives is hard work? I've got news for you. You're right!

This blog is the first in a series of 13 about inclusive conversations. With three introductory blogs and ten topical blogs, along with the e-book that will compile them all, I'm focusing on ten barriers to inclusive conversations and 10 skills that can help overcome them.

What is an inclusive conversation and why do inclusive conversations matter?


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Jul 3, 2015
Category: Antiviolence 
Category: Performance 
Category: Racism 
Category: Antiracism 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Just before this groundbreaking week, I attended a four-day Theatre of the Oppressed training for facilitators. This was my unintentional preparation for a week in which the South Carolina shooting and less-heard burning of Black churches, the Supreme court upholding of the Affordable Care Act and Gay Marriage. Whatever side you are on, the mix of these events are making our opinions about difference in America slap us in the face.