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Posts Tagged ‘Practitioner Profile’

In Memorium for Jess Sixkiller, a pioneer, mentor, and role model in community building.

Posted on: November 11th, 2015 by admin No Comments
by  John Oyler

KNXV Jess Sixkiller 1_1443420033255_24471399_ver1.0_640_480On Sept 25th Jess Sixkiller was murdered in his home in west Phoenix at the age of 78 by an intruder.  Police have apparently not made progress investigating.

Jess was of the Cherokee community in Oklahoma and lived most of his life in AZ with his wife,Tammy, and family.  His contributions within Indian Country and beyond were immense, including with ICA.  In his early career he was the first Native American police officer and,subsequently, detective in the Chicago P.D.  I came to know him as the director of Action for AZ.  Jess first contacted by ICA via an advocate for the Cannonball Human Development Project in N.Dakota and subsequently got involved with and supported the getimage.aspxPisinemo HDP and, through Action, enlisted auxiliary staff there in Vista, thus enabling the sustenance and credibility of the project.  He was a valued colleague, advocate and adviser in AZ and nationally, for example with the IERD.  I paid many visits to his office in the old federal building downtown (and actually still remember its telephone #) and was fortunate to have co-facilitated and co-trained with him, as well as making several roadtrips to different tribal headquarters.

I cannot claim to know of even a fraction of his contributions outside of ICA, but judging by the presence of several hundred people at his burial service in the remote Blackwater district of the Gila River Community and the testimonies I heard there, he must have touched thousands of lives.  For myself, it occurred to me that Jess was a mentor to me more than any other human being, from navigating Indian Country to being a slightly less stupid white man to swinging a golf club a little better.  He once gave me a sand wedge with the remark, “It’s a Ping, but you still have to hit the ball.”   This became a guidance for me professionally–you can have the best methods in the world, but you still have to connect with the group.

Jess deserves to be remembered by all of us who knew him and knew of him.

Practitioner Profile: ACYR appoints ToP champion Sharlet Barnett as CEO

Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Sharlet BarnettSharlet Barnett is the recently appointed CEO of Arizona Call-A-Teen Youth Resources, Inc. (ACYR).  She has worked directly with young people, youth professionals, and community groups since 1996, after graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1998 with a degree in Psychology.  During her time with ACYR she became trained in ToP methods and the Youth as Facilitative Leaders principles that she has used to help enact a project-based learning approach in summer programs that promote youth employment.  She has also supported a Youth Leadership Council that uses ToP methods to advise the City of Phoenix on city wide service projects.

In her new role as CEO, Sharlet leads a staff of 50 dedicated and highly qualified professionals who provide training opportunities and support to over 1,500 young people each year.  They are involved in advocacy for youth and creating and organizing youth programs. They also  engage directly with employers and local colleges in creating training options which result in job opportunities for youth.  Key partners include; Maricopa County Department of Health, Arizona Department of Education, City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development, and Maricopa Workforce Connections.  In leadership, she is committed to continuing to build a culture of participation throughout the agency and offers the ACYR space to convene the ToP Community of Practice and various ToP courses as part of the effort to promote ongoing learning and excellence in practice.

Sharlet is currently a member of the Maricopa County Streets of Success Community Advisory Board and has served as a member of the Arizona Workforce Advisory Task Force.  She took some time to talk with us briefly as part of our ongoing series of profiles on ToP practitioners.

 1. How did you first become exposed to facilitation and ToP methods?

My mentor and former supervisor Pamela Smith introduced me to the ToP methods about 13 years ago. She has been a long time collaborator with John Oyler from Partners in Participation and encouraged me to develop my skills with facilitation.

 2. When have you seen a need for facilitation?

I utilize facilitation in many different levels of my professional life. This includes; one on one conversations with staff, developing new collaborative programs, problem solving internal issues and working with the young people served by my organization to help them navigate decisions.

 3. Can you share a story of a time when facilitation or ToP methods really aided in moving a group?

Young people can have a difficulty feeling engaged with groups that include adults. They are not always sure their suggestions are valuable or wanted. Utilizing facilitation techniques for brainstorming and planning allows them to participate more comfortably and develop the trust that they do have a viable point of view that is needed and will be taken seriously.

 4. What do you see as unique contribution or niche you have as a facilitator?

I have learned to weave the techniques into my daily actions and conversations and will change my approach based on the group or situation that will best fit the needs of the outcome desired.

 5. What are you most excited about when you think about what is happening with facilitation here in Arizona? What would you like others to know about?

I have noticed in multiple groups that facilitation in Arizona is increasing. This is occurring in multiple groups that I am engaged with including other non profits and government offices when trying to problem solve or come to group consensus.

 6. What would you like to see advance in the field of facilitation and / or in the Arizona ToP network locally?

I would like to see facilitation integrated into teaching practices in Arizona. We have a high number of dropouts in our state and utilizing engaging practices to interact and solicit participation with them can help retain their focus and keep them in school. The techniques also promote problem solving skills which are essential for healthy growth and much needed in our future generations.

Learn more about ACYR at www.acyraz.org



Practitioner Profile: Terri Sue Rossi talks about using ToP in Public Participation.

Posted on: October 18th, 2014 by admin No Comments

by Alisa Oyler


Terri Sue RossiTerri Sue Rossi knows the ebbs and flows of public participation. Working for almost three decades in the highly contentious water industry, she has seen efforts involving a diverse array of invested stakeholders stutter under the weight of politics, hidden agendas and benign neglect. She’s also seen the cloak of a highly technical industry lose the human story to the weeds of mathematical equations. In increasingly ambitious efforts to effectively engage the public and key stakeholders in these big tricky questions of water management, Terri Sue was part of a team that used ToP methods, alongside complementary long term strategic planning tools, to build relationships, agreements, working networks and trust that the process would generate results. Ultimately, this culminated in a unanimously approved Summary of Emerging Consensus after two years.   Terri Sue is now exploring other ways to merge ToP methods with Public Participation efforts. Related to this, she is providing leadership in a task force working to bring the ToP Facilitators Network Annual Gathering to Phoenix in January of 2016!

Read more about Terri Sue’s facilitation work and ambitions for the ToP Network in Arizona in her interview here.

How did you first become exposed to facilitation and top methods?

“My first glimpse of ToP methods was at the 2004 International Association of Facilitators Annual Conference. I took the GFM [Group Facilitation Methods course] from the Canadians! My first exposure to facilitation was being selected as one of ten people to serve as internal facilitators at CAP [Central Arizona Project]. We went through an internal training program and started facilitating internally. I also used my new facilitation skills for the public participation element in policy development projects.”

When have you seen a need for facilitation?

“The need for facilitation is everywhere. Even in a technical field like the water industry where I work, at the root of every problem or solution is human decision making. In my field, we are super good at disguising our human stories in mathematical equations. Whether we describe our problems and our solutions with words or numbers, if human beings are involved, facilitation is needed.”

Can you share a story of a time when facilitation or ToP methods really aided in moving a group?

“My organization used ToP methods extensively in a massive public participation project called ADD Water. This roughly 100 member group met from May of 2008 through March of 2010. They produced numerous intermediate products using customized ToP methods moving from small to large groups and back again. These products ultimately culminated into a single Summary of Emerging Consensus that included over 90 points of agreement. Several key participants advocated the approval of the Summary before our governing board and the Summary was unanimously approved.”

What would you like to see advance in the field of facilitation and / or in the Arizona ToP network locally?

“I would like to see ToP methods incorporated into the decision making structure developed by the International Association of Public Participation or IAP2. To me the IAP2 structure is the golden standard for excellent public participation. IAP2 is not intended to be a facilitation practice. The IAP2 methodology would be more effective if highly disciplined facilitation techniques were used to support the structure.”

What do you see as your unique contribution or your niche?

“My niche is creating facilitation designs that allow people to solve their own problems. My goal is for the participants to own their problems and solutions so much that they forget I was even there. I consider it a failure if they thank me at the end of the day. I am less interested in substantive outcome and more interested in helping people see their reality with all of its glory and awfulness so they can make decisions in their lives that will move them from where ever they are to some place better.”

What are you most excited about when you think about what is happening with facilitation here in Arizona? What would you like others to know about?

“I am excited about bringing the ToP Network Annual Gathering to Arizona in 2016. We are heading to a point of convergence where human beings are demanding more involvement in decisions affecting their lives. I am looking forward to the Arizona ToP community, integrating with other facilitation and public participation practices, to explode onto the scene serving all voices in our communities.”


Terri Sue Rossi specializes in policy development, strategic, long-range and business planning. She is trained in the Technology of Participation® (ToP®), Balanced Scorecard and American Management Association strategic planning method. Terri Sue prepared business plans for Central Arizona Project from 2001 to 2008. All were honored with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Award. Terri Sue was also published in GFOA’s Government Finance Review. Terri Sue holds a Master of Arts degree from Rutgers University in Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arizona in Communication with a minor in renewable natural resources.

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