In February, we welcomed 17 facilitators into our first ever Training of Trainers for Finding Freedom! They are fabulous, wise, and unique folks who are about to complete the 38 hours of training we have co-created. Thank you for all the support you have provided to make this cohort experience so successful. Below is a recent group pic of us leaning into our facilitator superpowers.

Our facilitators all have Finding Freedom workshops scheduled over the next few months, please check out the upcoming workshops:

 

Tuesdays, October 19-November 16 9:30-12:00pm ET with Christy and Meg, register here

Wednesdays, October 20-November 17, 6:30-9:00pm ET with Lizzie and Katie, register here

Sundays, October 24-November 21, 12:00-2:30pm ET with Dlyn and Elizabeth, register here

Sundays, January 9-January 23, 3:00-7:00pm ET with Lizzie and Katie, register here

Wednesdays, January 12-February 9, 6:30-9:00pm ET with Molly, Jenna and Maggie register here 

Fridays, February 18-March 18, 2:00-4:30pm ET with Shira, Maggie and Lila, register here 

 

Christy Tronnier

I first learned about the power of organizing for racial justice during backyard potlucks on warm Southern spring nights, and later around kitchen tables when the weather turned cool. What at first seemed to me to be informal gatherings later revealed themselves to be the well-organized and powerful engine of queer and radical change-making, fueled by visionaries who were associated with groups like UBUNTU, SONG, Critical Resistance, SpiritHouse, Generative Somatics, dRworks, the Stone House, and other communities striving for collective liberation. I learned that the structure of sharing meals, childcare, and other resources reflects a liberatory praxis, and that community thrives in a context of collective care and mutual aid. I learned the value of an intersectional approach to organizing and that this approach necessitated that any white folx involved remain committed to the ongoing unlearning and resisting of our deep conditioning into a whiteness borne out of white supremacy culture. During those years, I also trained as a clinical social worker, earned a doctorate, built a clinical practice, and learned to teach.

After 17 years in my first chosen home of Durham, NC, I embarked on another journey and found my way to the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, where I now live in the woods with my family. I am still grateful for, and guided by, those honeysuckle-scented Durham nights spent strategizing and laughing in equal measure. As a white, queer, mostly able-bodied, and middle class cis-being, I am deeply committed to a lifetime of unlearning and resisting whiteness, and I strive to center this commitment in my work as a social work clinician and educator

Dani Wilson

I grew up in a white, working-class, farm-adjacent household in Iowa but have been gone long enough to have romanticized the sticky summers, fabulous rainstorms, and beautifully expansive cornfields. In the early 1990s, I became an HIV/AIDS peer educator and have been stumbling and practicing living my values ever since.

I am grateful to be spending my life in healing and justice work. Being a macro social worker has allowed me to contribute to change efforts in community development, housing, after-school programs, adult career training, education, mental health, and more. I am now a nonprofit executive director focused on bringing decolonized holistic healing to people impacted by cancer. I also help cultivate a more deeply connected world as a Warm Data host with the International Bateson Institute. Warm Data is a conversational series that invites curiosity and reflection to illustrate how we are all woven together. The process is designed to enable new societal responses to complex challenges.

After leaving Iowa, I made my home in Boston, Washington D.C., Southern California, Florida, and Arizona. I really miss the cacti but feel most alive in the magic of the forest. I now reside in Pittsburgh, where I learn, hike, parent, practice letting go, notice what emerges, write, befriend trees, and strive to heal racialized trauma in myself, my family, and my community.

Debby Warren

I’m a white woman of a certain age (69 at this juncture). I grew up in New York City and went to college in Chicago but I’ve spent the past almost 50 years living in North Carolina and working across in the South, primarily in rural communities.  My passion is economic and social justice and particularly working to change the many systems that sustain and perpetuate inequities. The best work I was involved in was organizing and advocating using the Community Reinvestment Act, which was a powerful tool in the 1980s and 1990s to force banks to lend to people of color and invest in their communities.

Besides working as a consultant, mostly with nonprofits to help them have greater impact and sustainability, I study the piano (classical), compulsively garden (not noticing the copperhead one bush over who then bit me), cycle and do yoga. I’m accident prone and am trying to celebrate those times when I can fully use all limbs.  I have a grown daughter who lives in Durham who is an advocate with a national organization, and a 23-year-old son, adopted from Guatemala, who will soon (we hope) get certified as a Medical Lab Technician.

Because Black leaders have long been calling us white folk to do our own work, I’m so thankful to have discovered Finding Freedom and the space and tools it creates for white women to wrestle with our own complicity and power and to discern a way forward to manifestly broaden this circle of learning and doing.

Dlyn Parra

I am a daughter of the Arizona desert. I started calling myself queer as different gender possibilities became more appealing. I recognize that my body’s variety of heritages embodies the conflict that Finding Freedom attempts to address: Within my body, I have the ancestry of the people from the Mayflower colonizers, and I also have the Spanish colonizers mixed with Native from the Chihuahua mountains. I embody both the oppressor and the oppressed. Purposefully raised “white,” I know what my privilege is and I am learning the actual cost of that privilege. I am also coming to see the power associated with my positionality to effect change. I am drawn to share this journey with others who are interested in a different way of living that causes less harm and supports all life.

My experience with dismantling white supremacy includes facilitating, organizing and directing actions–from national volunteers to spiritual rituals to stage productions. This work has provided me with an ease in engaging with others. I have a long history of activism, including protesting inequities here in Tucson, organizing  marches and rallies, and practicing needs-based communication to diminish conflict and create a sense of community. 

One of my strengths is continually saying the names of the Goddess out loud, celebrating her unifying abundance and caring empowerment in the face of a system that wishes to separate, diminish, and actually kill us. My practice of ritual facilitation has allowed many to feel their interconnectedness with the earth, each other and the divine. 

I also paint abstract expressionist works and write books. I practice as an Affirmative Outcome Specialist. My formal education (MS) was designed for connecting and understanding. 

I find that honoring the grief around recognizing our part as white-identified/women-identified people of privilege gives rise to resolution and continued resilience. I celebrate walking alongside you towards the vision of the world we desire.

Elizabeth Kmieciak

I am a white genderqueer empath, with the skill for meeting people where they are and walking to a point of understanding. I organize with progressive policy groups nationally and work with leaders to build them up. Together, we empower others to break apart systems that put barriers in our paths. I am also a plant virologist who is pragmatic by nature: I run a testing services laboratory. 

I am an introvert with a loud mouth and a big brain and a big heart. I am recharged by being alone, yet I love deep conversations and bad”‘dad” jokes. I show my love and reclaim my space through random acts of service, from street demonstrations to large-scale food deliveries.

I was socialized as a white woman to make myself small and make myself fit into a community where we only exist in the roles people allow us to fill. To me, Finding Freedom offers an opportunity to us all, myself included, to challenge this conditioning. One of my roles is to support you all to become leaders in your own right. We can use our drive, determination and understanding to challenge our conditioning to be small and start operating from a place of power and organization. We can use what we learn to create a world where everyone can thrive.

I’ve done a substantial geographic move around the US every 10 years or so and currently reside in Missouri with my cat Cougar (They/She), where we enjoy reading and watching the birds that visit our backyard feeders.

 

Jenna Peters-Golden

I’m a white queer Jewish facilitator and rabble-rouser raised in the Midwest and rooted in Philadelphia. I learned how to fight fabulously as an out queer teenager, organizing for LGBTQ youth in my high school and inside the school board. Since then, over the last 20 years, I’ve found home in anti-war movements, transformative justice anti-violence work rooted in community, and prison abolition. I am so pleased to be a worker-owner at AORTA Coop, where I facilitate, coach, and strategize with social justice organizations and community-based projects towards anti-oppression liberation.

I am delighted to spend time with my 2-year-old, where the laughter comes easy and possibility is everywhere. My family is also made up of my amazing partner, handsome dog, and a huge community of beloved friends and comrades.

I was a participant in Finding Freedom in the autumn of 2020 and it unlocked a place of grief, anger, and deepened conviction about the critical work white women and non-binary people have to do as we answer the call of Black and Indigenous and other leaders of color to be a part of taking this thing apart. Let’s go! 

Jodi Lasseter

Originally from the Southern Appalachian mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, I’m a queer, white woman from working-class roots. My mother’s people immigrated here from Germany and my father’s people from France and Ireland. 

My passion is combining popular education, community organizing and cultural work to catalyze movement building. For the past 25 years, I’ve had the privilege to work closely with hundreds of grassroots leaders in climate justice, gender justice and restorative justice movements. Through my consulting practice, Turn the Tide, I provide strategic consultation, campaign planning and equity and inclusion training to a wide variety of groups such as the Downeast Coal Ash Social and Environmental Justice Coalition, NC WARN and Friends of the Earth.  I’m the Founder and Co-Convener of the NC Climate Justice Collective, an intergenerational, multiracial grassroots movement ecosystem rooted in frontline communities of color and Indigenous nations.  I’m also the Founder and Co-Director of the Energy Democracy Leadership Institute. As a Social Change Change Fellow at Clark University, I completed my master’s degree in International Development, Community and Environment. 

Katie Powell

I am a white, cisgender woman born and raised in the American South. Originally from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, I now live in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas.

I have served for 5+ years as an educator and social justice facilitator with college students at the University of Arkansas and Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. I prioritize vulnerability and openness in my facilitations, and encourage all my students, at any level, to work to confront our dominant identities while I work to confront my own. I recently graduated with my PhD in English, and my research focuses on the role of white women in racial reconciliation, primarily based on my own role as a white woman in two community groups.

I love to be on the move, whether that’s running, walking, hiking, or hitting the open road to see family and friends. My partner and I will soon be parents to a little girl, due in June, and I have the distinct honor of being at the beck and call of the best two dogs in the world, Sancha and Myshkin.

Lila Givens

I am an intuitive caregiver and intentional weaver and builder in social change communities. I feel called to do racial justice work focused on education justice, body liberation, abolition, and transformative justice. In addition to We Are Finding Freedom, I’m moving with SONG (Southerners on New Ground), European Dissent ATL, Atlanta Anti-Racism Organizing Committee, and the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB). 

I bring facilitation and coaching experience in social emotional development, circle process, team/group dynamics, trauma-informed and collective care with youth workers, educators and racial justice organizers. 

Some identities I hold close are being an oldest sister, an educator, a lifelong learner, and a dog mom.  I’m a white, pansexual woman and a recovering restrictive eater who is learning the ways of loving and listening to my body. I love hiking and camping–the kind with a car, big tents, and air mattresses, not the hardcore backpacking kind.  I also love to channel my creativity into art, specifically painting and ceramics.

Lizzie Biddle

I am a white, cisgender Greensboro, NC-based racial equity trainer and organizer.  With nearly ten years of racial equity organizing experience in Greensboro through two community-based groups, I am passionate about exploring systemic interventions to address the roots of historic and present-day racial inequities in our society.  I have a decade of social service experience focused on supporting immigrant and refugee communities in Guilford County.  Since August 2018, I have been a trainer with a national racial equity training organization. I organize with fellow Quakers in North Carolina and nationally to address inequities based on race, sexual orientation, and gender within our organizations. 

My roots are in a white, blue-collar community in Northeast Pennsylvania where I still have strong family ties.  I hold a Master of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where I am currently a Zumba enthusiast and aspiring cook. With my white husband in tow, I love traveling nationally and internationally.

Maggie Scott Nesbit

I grew up white in a blue-collar family in the woods and fields of so-called Indiana. My people come from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Russia and France and were among early settlers following buffalo trails through the bluegrass to colonize stolen land throughout Appalachia and up into the midwest.

Quakers at Earlham College invited me to articulate my values and attach them to social action. A decade in Philadelphia taught me about hoagies and pho, nonprofit burnout, tending bar, and pediatric nursing. Love brought me to Georgia in 2015, where I live with my best friend in Stone Mountain.

I am an educator and organizer who is passionate about biocultural diversity, community based food, health and healing, youth work, and growing roots in Southern organizing traditions. I support and am supported by relationships with the People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond, Southern Movement Assembly, Project South, Atlanta Anti-Racist Organizing Committee, European Dissent ATL, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, AFM Quakers for Racial Equality, Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic, Showing Up for Racial Justice ATL, and neighbors who haven’t decided on fancy names.

I love music, hammocks, sharing food and pushing my growing edge with white kin to undo white supremacy from within and organize for liberation of all beings and our environment.

Meg Stein

As a white, cis-female facilitator and trainer working in racial equity, I work often with fellow white women and within the arts. I am also a visual artist, working primarily in sculpture and social practice, as well as a lover and supporter of artists everywhere.

As a member of Art Ain’t Innocent, a Durham, NC-based multiracial cross-class Southern arts visioning collective, I help generate productive conversations about how structures and assumptions within the arts sector perpetuate racial inequities. Through my community project Dirty White Matter, I invite others to examine whiteness and femininity while engaging in art-making, discussion and story-sharing. I have been a consultant in equity work with NC arts and social justice organizations and also as a trainer in my work with a national racial equity organization.

With a background in mindfulness, I incorporate an embodied approach into my work, creating conversations and experiences that allow internal reflection and body-based awareness of how these racial inequities are living in our bodies.

I greatly enjoy being in nature and spend as much time as I can hiking, backpacking, canoeing, camping and being out amongst the trees. I am proud to call Durham and North Carolina my home and am excited to invite more white women into this work.

Molly Fischer

I am a white, queer, jewish parent, born and raised in San Francisco, and rooted in Philadelphia for the past 8 years. I come from grandparents who immigrated from Eastern Europe and Russia, fleeing antisemitism. On another side of my family, people participated in early colonization of the northeastern and midwestern areas of Turtle Island.

I am a musician and artist and work in theater and film as a laborer. I am passionate about working with my hands and being away from my computer as much as I am on it. I have been organizing and collaborating for 15 years with Girls Rock Camps and the International Girls Rock Camp Alliance to imagine liberatory futures and fight for social justice through art, music, and collaboration. In 2011, I was a part of a collective that started a youth program called Queer Rock Camp, in Olympia, WA. I have worked and organized with LGBTQ youth and adults towards our collective liberation. I am passionate about intersectional feminism, prison abolition, transformative justice, alternative economies, and working collectively to move resources out of extractive industries and practices and towards BIPoC-led movements.

I attended Finding Freedom as a participant in the fall of 2020 (during the 2020 elections) and was inspired to support this offering of strengthening and steadying communities of white people in the fight against white supremacy.

Robin Magee

After participating in a Finding Freedom workshop, I was excited to discover how this justice- and somatic-centered approach could break up many of our internal logjams, freeing us to act.

I’m a straight, upper-middle-class, married, Quaker woman who was born and raised in the Midwest.  Inspired by all the teachers and coaches I met in my growing up years, I felt teaching was my way to make the world a fairer place.  

I’ve worked in public schools in several states as a teacher of English, Speech, Radio/TV production and Theater Arts, and as a theater director, writing coach, literacy tutor, cross-country/track coach, and substitute teacher.  I’ve been happiest creating community environments that encourage everyone to participate, experiment, grow, and  learn. 

These days I labor in the background doing North Carolina-based grassroots relational organizing, lobbying, and voter engagement. I’m also encouraging and supporting my beloved white people to show up for racial justice in their lives and spheres of influence.

After quite a few nomadic years my husband and I settled to raise our family in Durham, NC.  We’ve thrived in the warm communities we’ve joined. Their interconnection and possibilities continue to inspire me.

For relaxation, I read novels, gather with friends, spend time with my Mom, walk trails & neighborhoods, and cook to nourish my beloved people.  Post-pandemic, I’m looking forward to hugging, seeing live theater, and camping. 

Let’s show up for racial justice and healing our world!

Sharon Kniss

I grew up middle class in Virginia raised by progressive and deeply committed Mennonites. I have dedicated my personal and professional life to holistic and strategic peacebuilding in communities and organizations – rural, urban, and international. For the past 15 years I have supported many groups and communities navigating conflict and have taught adults and college students in conflict skills, restorative justice, and peacebuilding practices.

As a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman, I understand the long road in dismantling white supremacy within ourselves and our institutions, and I’m committed to personal and collective liberation. I get excited working with white women and genderqueer people as we get out of the way and into the metaphorical and actual streets for justice.

I’ve made my home in many places – Virginia, the UK, Indiana, Kansas, and Maryland – and regardless of location, you’ll find me hugging trees, connecting with the local Unitarian Universalist congregation, exploring state parks/nature, singing in a local choir, and deep diving in the community – learning about culture, history, and connecting with the local justice and anti-racism organizing movements. I currently make my home in the lands of the Piscataway and Nacotchtank people (now known as the DC area) where I enjoy devising Auntie Sharon adventures with my nieces and nephews.

Shira Concool

I am a white, Queer Jew, raised upper class in the suburbs of PA, NJ and FL. As a relationship-builder, healer, spouse, and mama, I now call Georgia home.

I am grateful to the many communities who organized me into movement and called me in to work with my people. These include the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, the Atlanta Anti-Racist Organizing Committee, European Dissent, Southerners on New Ground-Atlanta, Showing Up for Racial Justice-Baltimore and Atlanta, and so many without formal names.

Trained as a mental health counselor (and working to decolonize that training) I bring an emotion-focused lens to all spaces that I facilitate, with a spirit-deep understanding that we are so much stronger when we are in authentic relationship with one another. I am a lover of all things oceanic and happy to provide dolphin facts at a moment’s notice. 

Susannah Bartlow

Ever since I watched my mother lead church services in the 1980s,  I’ve been on a journey of reckoning with white feminism.  This journey has taken me through Philadelphia (Lenape) and the Rust Belt (Haudenosonee), to Appalachia (Susquehannock), the Midwest (Potawatomi), and the MidSouth (Chickasaw). 

I’ve worked in higher education & non-profits as a program director, paper-pusher, survivor advocate, youth social worker and women’s studies professor. I’ve also worked as a server, as a classified ad phone rep, and at a well-known home improvement store.  After being fired in 2015 for supporting a student mural of Assata Shakur, I deepened my work on white womanhood by studying somatics/body awareness and meditation for social change agents. 

My roots are in multiracial feminist organizing and theory, spiritual & healing justice experiences, grassroots and anarchist education, and activist art practice.  That means I love to share context and history and connect the personal and the political.  I like to help people distill their complex feelings and ideas into relatable insights to take on the road.  Most of all, I stay curious and encourage creativity.  I currently do facilitation & organizational change work and am a Community Outreach and Engagement Associate for a cancer clinical trials network. 

I’m middle-aged, queer and cisgender, with Western European settler ancestry and middle/ruling class family history. I live in Minneapolis (Wahpekute/Ocheti Sakowin), where I enjoy domestic crafts like knitting & sewing, outdoor activities, studying astrology & tarot, and spoiling my five nephews near and far.