"The means is dialogue, the end is learning, the purpose is peace." ~ Founder Dr. Jane Vella
Since 1994, I've combined my background in Vermont as a prevention and community development consultant, a teacher, and an attorney to help communities, schools, businesses, non-profits, and state and local governments engage as partners with those they serve to make real changes. My particular strength has been the integration of two models in my work. One is a community development model of social change that focuses on changing underlying conditions rather than just reacting to symptoms of a problem, and engaging those most impacted in a situation as partners in changing the underlying conditions (Lofquist). This model has been particularly effective in working with populations who have felt disenfranchised, hopeless, or apathetic.
The other model that I've drawn upon in my work is a dialogue-based planning, design, and facilitation approach that says people will learn and make changes based on new ideas if they have a chance to apply those new ideas to what they already know and to do something with the new ideas in situations that are real and have immediate importance to them (Vella). This model has been particularly helpful in engaging people who might not relate to a traditional teacher or presenter-centered meeting or event.
A few examples of the consulting work I've done over the past 20 years: I developed and facilitated a three year truancy and drop-out prevention initiative called the Consortium for Successful High School Completion, which resulted in Act 176, the alternative path to high school completion. I developed and coordinated the School-to-Earth sustainability partnership linking the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC), Montpelier High School, and U-32 High School, and initiating the VYCC school-based programs. I coordinated, designed, and facilitated three Annual Youth and Policy Makers Sessions at the Vermont State House. I co-designed and facilitated a two-year participatory evaluation process for Central Vermont Community Action's Micro-business Development Program. For the past 7 years, I've assisted with grant-compliance, training in evidence-based programs, and training in effective stakeholder collaboration for Vermont’s Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities programs, Juvenile Justice programs, and Community Justice Centers.