Center for Council confirmed the certification of twelve new Council Trainers in a ceremony at Temescal Gateway Park's Stewart Hall on December 14, 2019.
Center for Council's Mentor Circle has been shepherding and supporting each of the candidates through a rigorous three-year process of trainings, assignments, internships, practice, observation, co-leading and self-reflection.
Uniquely, this cohort all began their path to certification as Council Trainers through their participation in the Trailer Leadership Initiative, funded by our friends at the Angell Foundation. All twelve have earned this recognition by demonstrating mastery of the core capacities required of a Council Trainer.
The complete list of newly certified Council Trainers is as follows:
Ricardo (Ricky) Miranda
Goreti da Silva
Sofia Rose Smith
Center for Council is thrilled to welcome all twelve dynamic practitioners of this work into the ranks of Certified Council Trainers, working to foster deeper connection, greater presence and more compassion in our world.
Through the generosity of local philanthropists, a team of Center for Council trainers travelled to Jacksonville, Florida, to engage with local community based organizations, and with law enforcement, in the hope that the work of Council would be a nourishing and relevant practice for this diverse and challenged community.
Our team sat in Council with the staff of several dynamic and energized CBOs, including JASMYN (Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network), NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), JPEF (Jacksonville Public Education Fund), JCRP (Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project), and K-9s for Warriors. In addition to this diverse group of organizations, our team was invited to meet with Sheriff Mike Williams, and the staff of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, about our Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience Training program.
The response to this initial engagement was extremely positive and inspiring and has led to design of a more in-depth training program that will unfold throughout the Jacksonville area over the Spring and Summer of 2020. We are thrilled to be collaborating with this dynamic community, engaging deeply with staff of both the social justice and law enforcement community. Our programs are tailored to meet participants where they are, providing a nourishing container for staff to reaffirm their commitment to their mission, strengthen their ability to sustain and flourish in highly stressful environments, explore ways to collaborate internally and with allies, and develop useful skills to serve their clients and stakeholders. Ultimately, the intention is to explore weaving unlikely allies in the model of C4C's "Cops & Communities: Circling Up." We are very excited to partner with the Jacksonville community in this powerful and critical work.
We are very pleased to announce the launch of our newest program: the Organization Wellness Project! Formerly called the Social Justice Council Project, the Organization Wellness Project is designed to serve and strengthen those working on the front lines of social justice in Southern California. This year’s project will engage the staff of 10 dynamic organizations from across the region, representing powerful and diverse work within the social justice sphere.
Our new cohort includes these participating organizations:
Esperanza Community Housing Cooperation
Los Angeles Black Workers Center
Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance
National Council of Jewish Women
Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice
Community in Schools of Los Angeles
We are thrilled to be partnering with these 10 wonderful non-profits to help integrate the practices of attentive listening and heartfelt dialogue into their critical and much-needed work. The Council practice has been proven to enhance communication and strengthen connection between individuals, supporting more resilient, creative, and collaborative work environments.
Though the evolution of the Organizational Wellness Project, Center for Council continues to support mindful communication and authentic, non-judgmental dialogue, helping build internal cohesion within staff, as well as more dynamic engagement with the communities that organizations serve. Non-profits selected for this cohort will participate in a series of on-site community-building experiences, coupled with immersive Council training for a select internal team. Center for Council will also provide mentoring and hands-on support as the site team integrates the practice of Council into each organization’s culture and operations.
“We’re so excited to be partnering with a diverse group of remarkable organization in this round of the program,” says Executive Director, Jared Seide. “We’ve learned so much about really listening to our participating sites’ needs, and customizing our work to their unique culture, ethos and approach. The practice of Council truly strengthens Center for Council as an organization--and it’s inspiring to see how nourishing the practice can be for our partners!”
The Organization Wellness Project is made possible through the generous support of The Angell Foundation. Click here to learn more about the Organizational Wellness Project.
This year’s Social Justice Council Project Celebration honored our non-profit partner organizations participating in the Social Justice Council Project. Held at the LA River Center and Gardens, this day-long program explored the impact that Council can have on an individual and a community. It also celebrated what happens when we take time to simply listen to one another without critique and speak from the heart without worrying about how we might be perceived.
Center for Council was thrilled to have so many partner organizations there to celebrate. Staff from participating organizations exchanged stories and ideas about how they are implementing Council into their organizational culture or using it personally, as a way to cultivate compassion for others, find a greater sense of clarity, strengthen their communication skills, and develop a more rooted belief in themselves within the day-to-day.
Hearing how organizations are using Council was an uplifting reminder of how significant the elements of Council truly are, even when practiced outside the circle. Many reported that sitting in Council with their coworkers had brought them immensely closer, and that they are more apt to collaborate with one another on professional projects. One of the most basic elements of the Council practice is the circle in which participants sit to tell their stories and listen to one another. The circle’s shape enables each participant to see and be seen, neutralizing normative hierarchies of gender, race, or job title.
It was an impactful day for all of us at Center for Council, to be able to witness our friends—old and new—coming together to share in our mission of fostering individual and communal compassion and empowering heartfelt, honest dialogue to promote collective understanding and resilience.
The Department on Disability is one of the 15 organizations currently participating in our third round of the Social Justice Council Project. The Department on Disability ensures that all city programs, facilities, and services are accessible; supports people with disabilities and those impacted by them; and provides prevention and education programs for those at risk or impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Center for Council recently spoke with the Department on Disability’s Chief of Staff and Public Information Officer, Nicole Willett, to get a sense of the impact that the Social Justice Council Project has had on the agency and its staff members. Nicole reported an experiential shift in their organizational culture; one both unique to the Department on Disability and simultaneously echoed in the experiences of so many other organizations who have participated in our Council Training Program. Nicole talked about how staff members have extended the practice of Council past the circle and into the office, noting that Council circles have encouraged collaboration between departments and created a warmer, friendlier environment for staff to work in. Read her interview to learn more about how Council can create a cultural shift within a professional environment.
Center for Council: Was the staff at the Department on Disability open to the practice, did anyone have any reservations going in?
Nicole Willett: One of the important things for us was that I was able to personally vouch for the training and trainer. We have trainers come in a lot for other programs and other trainings that aren’t aware of cultural pieces around disability or aren’t comfortable addressing contexts of race or gender. I really wanted to know we would have a trainer that would be inclusive.
I coordinate all of the trainings in our department and it’s the only training I’ve never gotten a complaint about. Everyone felt that it was very inclusive and that the trainers were open to shifting language as we asked them to. That was a really key part for us.
Did you notice a shift within your organization?
People enjoy the slowing down and the coming together. We’re a small department, we have a huge mandate, and it’s go-go-go all the time. A lot of time it’s not go-go-go all together.
There has been a greater understanding among all of our staff members. Council’s fundamentals of attentive communication, in that there is no interrupting and an encouragement to listen without judgement, has allowed people to feel comfortable in sharing their stories.
Have you noticed a shift in how your organization operates?
People are more willing to assume good intent among their co-workers and there’s much more communication about personal things like, “how’s your son doing?” around the office, which generally helps to boost the mood. I have noticed more willingness to collaborate across divisions, where before if staff members didn’t know one another that collaboration wouldn’t have happened. Across our department, there is an increased ease of collaboration.
Did you notice a personal shift, or was there anything that came out of the training that surprised you?
My boss, our Executive Director, has really taken to the practice and wants to use it in every aspect of our department as well as personally. He has commented numerous times about how it has changed his life. And, you know, he was very open to it already, but it was really cool to see how he embraced the practice of Council so fully.
The Social Justice Council Project is made by possible by a generous grant from The Angell Foundation.
We are so pleased to announce the launch of the third round of our Social Justice Council Project! Designed to serve and strengthen those on the front lines of social justice work in Southern California, this year’s project will engage with 15 organizations from across the region.
Program participants include: Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network, Brotherhood Crusade, Community Health Councils, Los Angeles Department on Disability, The Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), My Friend's Place, Para Los Niños, Project ALOFA, Proyecto Pastoral, Rosemary Children's Services, Social Justice Learning Institute, Safe Place for Youth, and Youth Action Project.
For the first time, two law enforcement agencies will also participate in the program, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. We are eager to include officers in this round of the project, acknowledging their critical place in the social justice continuum, as well as the enormous challenges they confront managing stressful situations and cultivating positive community relationships. Council can be a powerful new resource in this environment.
Through the Social Justice Council Project, Center for Council provides customized Council training for each organization’s staff members. Learning and practicing mindful listening, and authentic, non-judgemental dialogue, helps support both internal cohesion, as well as engagement with communities served.
“Organizations working to promote social justice play such a critical role in our world today. Yet, their staff is so often over-stressed and under-resourced,” said Jared Seide, Center for Council’s Director. “We are so excited to ally with these 15 dynamic organizations to help integrate Council into their professional culture. Council creates an opportunity for staff to find common ground, to celebrate shared values, and to develop tools together for improved emotional health and well-being. It provides a generative space for healing and a tool for developing compassion and resilience. We’re thrilled to be adding to our growing network of partners and allies in this work!”
Center for Council welcomes these dynamic organizations into the Social Justice Council Project. We are eager to begin to work with their diverse staffs to integrate the practices of attentive listening and heartfelt dialogue into their very critical work.
The current round of the Social Justice Council Project is made possible through the generous support of The Angell Foundation.
We hit the ground running in January with the launch of our Trainer Leadership Initiative. With the generous support of the Angell Foundation, this brand new program will provide intensive yearlong Council mentorship and professional development for 30 dynamic individuals, many of whom are alumni of our Social Justice Council Project.
The new cohort of prospective trainers will receive an immersion in the skills and knowledge they need to lead their own programs and trainings and to extend the work of Council within their own organizations and communities, growing a more robust network of Council leaders throughout Southern California.
We are so energized by the range of experiences and objectives of these 30 unique and diverse men and women, and we think you will be too.
Check out our website for intimate profiles of some of these dynamic emerging leaders!
In these heartbreaking times, we feel grateful to have the means to come together with open hearts to bear witness, take stock, deepen community, and to celebrate our common humanity.
We want to share with you a little of what we've recently been up to.
Each year, Center for Council's Social Justice Council Project provides a select number of community-based, social service and arts organizations with individualized Council training and with resources to support their missions, help enhance and deepen their work, and bring folks together in Council. On June 24, 2016, Center for Council was so pleased to host the Social Justice Council Project Gathering and Celebration at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. At this event, all of this year's Social Justice Council Project participants came together to share how they're integrating Council into their important and unique work in the world.
The day featured circles and activities led by participating organizations, cultural performances, a special phoned-in presentation by one of our incarcerated Council leaders, and lots and lots of Council. It was truly a day of festivity and a special chance to bring together a new and growing coalition of like-minded organizations working to empower their communities through the practice of listening and storytelling.
In the midst of so much suffering in the world right now, this event was a much-needed reminder of all the good that exists--and of all of the big-hearted people working hard within our local communities to support compassion, peace, and wellbeing for all. It was also a powerful confirmation of Council's potential, in any setting, to ease pain, increase engagement, and enable us to flourish together at a time when it is so needed.
A critical challenge for social justice organizations as you advocate for positive social change is to listen deeply to the communities in which you work. Recognizing your mandate to voice the needs of the populations that you serve, your team will serve most effectively by developing the capacity to listen deeply and understand the context and history of your communities.
At Center for Council, we believe that when a staff participates in Council, an opportunity emerges for employees and peers to develop greater rapport, trust and a deeper sense of community.
Your work is so important and impactful that we are privileged to join you in building into your team to create a deeper resilience and bond as the antidote to the burnout so common is the social justice field.
We are so excited to integrate the Council practice into your organizations to create a healthier and more nurturing workplace, fostering greater cooperation, motivation and creativity that then supports innovation, increased productivity and better decision-making.
Funded in partnership by the Angell Foundation and the JIB Fund, Center for Council is excited and privileged to announce the Social Justice Council Project recipients for 2015-16:
These 20 amazing non-profits will receive training and professional development in the practice of council, to support their important work and their connections within their organizations and with their communities.
And we gratefully acknowledge the pilot cohort of this innovative project: 13 organizations that participated in our first iteration of the SJCP, in 2013-14; you can learn more about the program here.
Do you want to bring Council to your organization? Explore our website or contact us now.
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