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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Aug 10, 2017
Category: Trauma 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

When most people think about trauma, they think about how individuals experience physically or emotionally violent circumstances that leave them traumatized. Traumatic experiences are painful, but can be transformative, too. Personal healing is transformative when we release shame, blame, and guilt, and allow the traumatic experience to be integrated into the rest of our lives. The same goes for groups. When trauma occurs in groups, both the individual and the group can learn from it. Welcome to my new blog series: Trauma is a two-way street.

 


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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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Sep 15, 2016
Category: What is an inclusive conversation? 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Category: Tips for inclusive conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Got relatives or friends on the other side of your political beliefs? Can't get three words in before the conversation gets rough? Do you avoid talking all together to avoid feeling awful? For my series on inclusive conversations−conversations where differences are seen not as a resource, not a threat−and this tip is for you: don't word-pick, empathize. 


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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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May 13, 2016
Category: Power Dynamics 
Category: Inclusive Conversations 
Category: Tips for inclusive conversations 
Author: Rita Fierro, Ph.D.

Do your conversations these days feel like black holes of despair that transform even the sweetest of donuts into booger-tasting jelly beans? If most conversations you have about these crazy primaries end up in fights and go nowhere, tip #4 is for you.  Inclusive conversations occur when differences are seen as a resource, not a threat. Previous tips included preparing the conversation, choosing when and where to invest your energyopening the door to the conversation and making allies. Today's tip is more about the actual conversation. Tip #4: No matter how insane you think people are to think the way they do, don't beat them down with what you know, try to pause, and meet them where they are, instead. But before I explain what I mean by: "meet people where they are," here's a little story for you.


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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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