Alethia and I have been leaders in the Capital District Labor-Religion Coalition over the last four years. Over that time, two projects stand out as examples of her skills as a planner, facilitator and consensus-builder. When the statewide Labor-Religion Coalition selected immigration reform as the theme of its annual 40-hour Fast in 2008, she was one of two immigration experts who offered to develop curriculum and facilitate a workshop on this divisive topic. It was presented for the first time at the closing of the fast and has since been adapted for use in a variety of settings.
The “Let’s Talk Immigration” workshop invites participants to speak about the immigrant experience in their own families, to learn the history of immigration in the US through a variety of activities and provides an opportunity to practice respectful conversations through role-play scenarios. The planning process (involving a committee & collaboration with four organizations), the actual curriculum and the thoughtful facilitation all contributed to its effectiveness.
Alethia also led a process of strategic planning for the Coalition, beginning with a survey she distributed at the annual dinner and ending, several months later, with consensus on a focus issue. As developer and facilitator, she drew in individuals with very different levels of engagement. The sessions were productive, skillfully paced and even inspiring. Alethia’s approach to both these projects involved careful listening. She builds commitment from individuals and helps groups see their mission more concretely. I hope I have the opportunity to work with her again.