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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Dec 21, 2015
Category: Group dynamics 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

There once was a little girl named Folasi; she was lively and loved to sing, dance, run and breathe. She built a home for herself in the forest. It was a cardboard box with cut-out windows decorated with colorful paint and leaves. To her, it was a mansion. On the days in which a soft breeze would come through, she could sit in her home and feel protected.


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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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Oct 6, 2015
Category: Africa 
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Education 
Category: Racism 
Category: Leadership 
Category: Why invest in inclusive conversations? 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Once we've decided that having inclusive conversations is important and worth our time, why is it important to build our ability to do so? Can't we just talk? What is there to learn? After all, aren't we just people?

 


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Sep 17, 2015
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Leadership 
Category: Why Invest in Inclusion? 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

We live in a world where our experiences of individual and group differences are more expansive every day. As globalism, transportation, and communication make our world smaller, we gain contact with people of more different cultures, nationalities, sexual orientations, tribes, ethnic groups, professions, political outlooks, ideologies etc. etc. etc than prior generations.


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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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May 26, 2015
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Participatory Leadership 
Category: Leadership 
Category: Emergence 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

If the term Emergence gives you a discomforting itch either because you don’t understand it, don’t value it, can’t work with it, or it sounds too woo woo for you, I have a fun and light suggestion that may bring your mental lightbulbs to life. Watch the animated film: Penguins of Madagascar. I’m not joking. You can watch it with your kids over the weekend, have fun, and no one will suspect you’re learning or working. 


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Jan 4, 2014
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Racism 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Art 
Category: Art and Social Justice 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Many facilitation processes completely ignore power dynamics and their effect on group conversations. At best, power differentials are identified ahead of time but not addressed as  interactions occur.  This blog lists some of the ways that Art of Hosting plans for differences in power among participants. It also narrates a combination of processes implemented for this specific purpose. 


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Nov 12, 2013
Category: Africa 
Category: Performance 
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Art 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

The challenges of our bodies often parallel that of our minds. An experience with dance that says more about life, conversations, and relationships. 

I am out of breath again…

I’ve been taking African dance classes for 10 years. I love the way the drums energize me. I feel the loud beats pulsing in my veins. My ankles twitch. They want to lift.  I’m enchanted with how dancers’ steps ahead of me match the beat and how their upper torsos follow one drum –ta-ta-ta-ta !– while their lower bodies follow the other –ta- ta!–.


Oct 18, 2013
Category: Performance 
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Art 
Category: Art and Social Justice 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

I had the great pleasure of giving a workshop in summer 2013 on facilitating conversations about social justice at the Alternate ROOTS gathering of artists and social activists. Cristine Davis, General Manager of the Performing Arts Alliance, describes this work in their October newsletter:


Aug 14, 2013
Category: Africa 
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

My colleague, Alissa Schwartz dreamed in her sleep about a new facilitation structure where a group narrates its history. In a circle, ordered from youngest to oldest, each person shares everything they know about the group’s history. The mystery unfolds as the elders speak towards the end. In this blog I share an experience in which I applied this process. 

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Jul 11, 2013
Category: Africa 
Category: Group dynamics 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Speaking with Radical Honesty is a relatively easy practice to preach and a really hard thing to do. I first heard the phrase a few years ago, and it lingered in my mind. Our ability to hold the HARD conversations in life is a big part of what defines us. HARD conversations are as an integral part of life as are joy and love.


Jun 10, 2013
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Women and girls 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

On a recent evaluation and facilitation project, I came on as the new hire to a well-developed team. The client was a prestigious foundation, and it was a high stakes project for everyone involved.

I was expected to hit the ground running and had no time to get myself acquainted with the particular work style of this team. Over time, my initial discomfort increased, rather than decreased. My colleague’s management style favored attention to details over big picture thinking, and I learned from this process that I’m more of a big picture person.


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May 6, 2013
Category: Antiviolence 
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Evaluation 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

I recently was hired to help a group of people (Chester Real Change) generate a visual model that represented the transformative process they collectively experienced regarding the impact that violence had had on them.


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Mar 1, 2013
Category: Africa 
Category: Group dynamics 
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Evaluation 
Category: Women and girls 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

On a recent work trip to Ethiopia, I led and facilitated a group of 15 researchers collecting stories about adolescent girls for Girl Effect with SART, an Ethiopian Research company. We followed a BBC crew showing a documentary about stories of Ethiopian girls.