Creative Facilitations
Case Studies
Success, accomlishments, and
"Aha!" moments.

Creative Facilitations case studies

"Thanks for showing me and teaching me a
new way to look at the world.”"
- Radelys, Windsor Mountain participant

"I am delighted to stay that we are all referring regularly
in conversation and deed to what we learned and did during
your work with us. Thank you so much!"
- David Shein, Assistant Dean of the College, Bard College

"Best. Program. Ever.""
- Eugene, Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication

"You brought rich and warm experience to this work,
and kept the energy dynamic and productive."
- Program Staff, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum


Our approaches are as varied and interesting as
our clients themselves. We invite you to explore the details
of the case studies below by clicking on the highlighted topic.

Case #1

Staff Training and Educational Program Development
as well as Self-Empowerment Training for both staff and participants for The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s Art and Leadership Program for Girls, resulting in a 200-page manual and national awards.

Case #2

Community Building and Organizational Transformation
around a staff transition during a Staff Retreat for Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Case #3

Interactive Experiential Activities
for a specific purpose: solidifying the partnership between the Royal Caribbean International Study Program – The Scholar Ship – and the University of California, Berkeley.

Case #4

Experiential Education and Training
at National Labor College for Instructional Methods course, a “how-to-teach” class for union trainers of their own people.

Case #5

Educational Program Development
for The International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership (IPSL) Master’s Program.

Case #6

International Education Service-Learning Program
trip leading for Windsor Mountain and Global Routes.

Case #7

Staff Retreat
for three consecutive years, for Bard College which lead to Diversity Training for staff and a week long campus event, “Celebrating Diversity Outside the Classroom.” We also filled the gap during an employee transition.

Case #8

Theatre of the Oppressed
techniques used for Study Abroad Pre-Departure Training at Global College. These techniques were used for issue-oriented community support for Native American youth at a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) boarding school, and to explore issues of power with various groups. Read a letter of appreciation from a participant.

Case #1
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s Art and Leadership Program for Girls (OKGirls) works to support at-risk girls at that pivotal age when quality decision making becomes crucial. It’s tough being a girl at age 11-13, and 14-15 isn’t much easier. After the first few years of their new program, the museum knew they were on the precipice of something great. But they wanted to bump up the leadership curriculum, expand the artistic offerings, and ensure individual self-empowerment of both program participants and high-school/college intern staff. CF was brought in to coordinate and facilitate the program, and soon thereafter things started to change. The program manual became a coveted document, filled with over 200-pages of process and product oriented gems (used for OKBoys too!). The young summer staff drawn from all over the country bonded in ways not previously seen. The female artists who consulted as teachers asked for an overnight experience akin to the program itself, and CF made it happen. The girls and their families thanked the museum for their participation in the program that had truly made a difference in their lives.

In 2008 the program won the coveted ‘Coming up Taller’ award from the President of the United States:

When the O’Keeffe Museum Education Department starts a new program, they call CF. CF has now flown around the country helping OKM pilot programs for college women students and female university professors. We have been asked to coach a young, new hire in the department – flying out to co-train with her, helping her learn how to manage a staff, facilitate staff training, and create the summer program culture.

Case #2
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

The supervisor of a team was leaving, and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless needed support to prepare for the transition. CF had facilitated a highly successful community building event in past years and was asked to return a short time thereafter to lend a helping hand. During the staff retreat, people safely aired their concerns about the transition and created an action plan of what they could do to ensure smooth workings. CF led them through some traditional brainstorming methods, as well as drawing and happily playing purposeful games like they used to do as children.

By the end of the day, the team celebrated each other through appreciation activities, and was ready with a positive attitude and a specific plan in place to move forward.

Case #3
Royal Caribbean’s International Study Program

(Here’s an example of how CF used interactive activities for a specific purpose.) Royal Caribbean’s international study program, The Scholar Ship, was searching for its North American university partner. After a year of vetting and meetings, The University of California – Berkeley, was considering being a partner in the project. It all came down to the visit. The Scholar Ship’s President asked Stephanie to design and lead the first crucial hour. Within 30 minutes of their arrival, the mixed group of Berkeley and TSS folks were engaged in an interactive group activity, laughing hysterically as they got to know one another. Once the relationships were established, the day of intensive meetings began. A month later, the Memoradum of Understanding was signed. Six months later, Stephanie met with a few of the Berkeley folks as colleagues at a jointly thrown conference reception. One Berkeley staffer took Stephanie aside and said, "Berkeley signed on because of you."

Case #4
National Labor College

The National Labor College is special: they offer limited residency degree programs for union workers from across North America to get their BA degrees as they continue to work. People in these unions are used to using their bodies as well as their brains on a daily basis, not sitting down all day in class. So when it came to teaching an Instructional Methods course, a how-to-teach class for union trainers of their own people, NLC called the experts in experiential education and training: Creative Facilitations.

In collaboration with full-time NLC faculty (from afar using only email and phone), CF co-created a syllabus that was perfect for the audience of construction-worker-trainers. That first year, CF and the NLC faculty were the only females in the room. By day two, they had the group of 40 male construction workers exploring deep issues of sensitivity on the job through doing theatre games; at times they were so amused by themselves they were laughing until tears streamed down their faces. On day three, everyone was on the edge of their seats for two hours as they created and performed interactive skits for each other (using Theatre of the Oppressed techniques) and called upon their own expertise to help solve each other’s on the job problems. By the end of the class, CF conducted an appreciation activity that the participants said they would remember for the rest of their lives.

CF is now in its fourth year of co-teaching at NLC. From a student's final evaluation: "You are the most active and engaging teacher I have ever had. The next time I get a question on a role model, my answer will be you."

Case #5
The International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership

CLIENT: The International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership (IPSL), located in Portland, OR has offices in 11 countries worldwide. IPSL is an educational non-profit serving students, colleges, universities, service agencies and related organizations by fostering programs that link volunteer service to the community and academic study.

IPSL contacted Creative Facilitations a few years ago because they had heard rumblings that the master’s students in their two locations (Mexico and Jamaica) were having various issues around their academic and service experiences. In January, the two student cohorts were to converge in New York City to meet one another, create community, learn about the global service sector (UN, NGOs, funding, etc.), and explore career development. The coordinator determined that some type of group process was needed before the students would be ready to fully participate in the events in New York.

18 Master's Program students - with career focus in the private, voluntary sector delivering social services to communities, including those that operate internationally.
  • To learn of student issues
  • To hear what support they desired
  • To create one community out of two cohorts
  • To provide strategic advice to IPSL staff for this program's future
To facilitate a four-hour session, the goal being to end the session with a unified group of students who are satisfied with the program. Also, to provide a comprehensive report filled with student generated suggestions for improvements to be presented by Creative Facilitations (CF) and discussed among staff.

CF used various experiential and artistic activities, and drew upon multiple theories from various disciplines (such as intercultural communication, leadership, group psychology, educational program management, organizational behavior, learning styles). The session began with a quick group introduction which led into an interactive trust building exercise. Next came an abbreviated, visual arts based group culture creation activity, followed by some group brainstorming. The heart of the session involved small groups of students speaking candidly about their experiences in relation to the previously brainstormed topics, naming both the problem and numerous potential solutions. Back together as an entire group, a directed outcome focused discussion developed and information was organized in order to give feedback to the President. The session ended with a ritual of letting go of the past and opening the excitement of the future.
  • A safe environment was provided in which the students could comfortably share
  • The two separate cohorts were bonded into a single group
  • Thoughts and feelings were aired and respectfully heard
  • A brainstorming session occurred which allowed the development of solutions to suggest to IPSL
  • Students successfully learned to let go of past issues and assume good intentions by IPSL
  • Students began their program week in New York and semester in England with happy anticipation.
Following the success of the first session at IPSL, CF was invited back for the next year with much greater involvement.

Case #6
Windsor Mountain and Global Routes

Windsor Mountain and Global Routes are organizations that bring students from the U.S. to different countries for cross-cultural exchange and service-learning. Both are leaders in the field. And when these leaders experience a sudden vacancy in a last-minute, upcoming trip, they call the expert in international trip leading: Stephanie of CF.

On short notice, CF was able to join with teachers from a state-run program to take a group of inner-city, high-school youth most of whom had never previously left the country, to do cultural learning and volunteering for ten days in Puerto Rico. Same thing happened a few years ago and CF was off to Thailand to solo-lead a trip with college students teaching English in Thai primary and secondary schools.

Case #7
Bard College

Year One: The Dean of Students at this progressive liberal arts college was getting ready to plan her staff retreat of 14 people and realized a passing of the torch was in order; she would soon be taking maternity leave and needing to temporarily prepare the staff for this transition. In addition, they recently had some of the normal turnover of a young staff. Beginning the new year, it was imperative for the individuals to work as a solid, communicative, effective team who could create edgy programming and respond to emergencies with finesse. CF was called in to facilitate the day. Serious and funny moments ensued, brainstorming bullet points were recorded, games were played, personal and team action plans were created, and the staff said they were ready to meet the year as a solid team.

The next year, preparing for the retreat again, the Dean was back, and the transition needed to be complete. She was so happy with the work of CF from the year prior that she expanded the retreat from one to three days. A bit less turnover this year, she was determined to support her staff in becoming the best they could be. CF used theatre and art activities to support the team in producing a forward thinking action plan of increasing communication with departments on campus.

Partway through the year, the Dean wanted to support the President’s plan for increasing proficiency of diversity on campus through providing diversity training for the entire staff of 70+ people, from security to food service to athletics to residence life to admissions and everyone in between. CF was called in to create and implement a two-day multidisciplinary event that touched off some pretty huge conversations about culture, ethnicity, power, and communication. The stage was now set to go even deeper.

The 3rd year at the annual 14-person staff retreat, the entire staff commented on how amazingly fluid their communication had become. They continually referred to skills they had learned in retreats by CF from previous years, and were excited to be moving into a more sophisticated phase of increasing effective internal communication and action planning.

But there was a possible glitch in the overall system; one of the directors was moving on and time was needed to find just the right person. In the meantime, something had to happen; given the importance of diversity on campus, they could not possibly begin the year with a vacancy in the Multicultural Affairs department. Knowing the search for the new director might take a while, the Dean once again brought in Creative Facilitations.

CF fills the gap during an employee transition
CF conducted trainings for campus departments, advised individual students, consulted with staff on unique student-staff-faculty issues, renewed programs that had previously lapsed, and guided upper level staff through developing interactive trainings of their own. Most notably, CF created a week-long, campus-wide series of events “Celebrating Diversity Outside the Classroom” involving students, faculty, staff, alumni, and outside performers. Collaborators of CF and Bard faculty/staff worked together to offer sessions including: Jamaican Drumming and Spirituality, Hip Hop Interculturalism, The Psychology of Prejudice, Conversations with Campus Security, and White Identity.

Needless to say, the Dean’s goals were exceeded and a new director has now begun.

Case #8
Theatre of the Oppressed

Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) is the name for interactive activities dreamed up by Augusto Boal of Brazil, based on Paulo Friere’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” You’ve never heard of TO? That’s okay, 15 years ago neither had we. And then our lives were changed forever. TO is a group of theatre activities for non-theatre people. It’s an engaging, safe way for communities to come up with solutions to their own problems. It’s brilliant and unbelievably sophisticated to facilitate. It took us ten years of practicing to feel like we know what we’re doing. And now, we know what we’re doing. We’ve been published writing about our experiences with the methods and teach them to anyone who wants to learn, which has been a whole lot of people. It changes lives. How? Read on. . .

A few TO live experiences include:

- Global College
The scenario was undergraduate students attending Global College in their first year in the U.S. – followed by three years in various locations overseas. In preparation for their upcoming cultural immersion experience, first year students learn from the experiences of returning seniors. But rather than do typical role plays, we did TO’s “Forum Theatre.” In one poignant session, with a senior’s story being played out before her eyes by first years, she suddenly burst into tears. “That’s it!” she exclaimed, with enormous relief. In 45 minutes the first year students had come up with a solution to a problem that had plagued her for months. She could finally move on with her life, and the outbound students now knew how to support one another when in one of the bazillion precarious situations that can occur while far from home. Ah, success.

- Bureau of Indian Affairs: A Boarding School with Global Routes
A rural Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) boarding school is not always a happy place. Tribal youth are often sent there to escape family difficulties and poverty. Living in the dorms, it became apparent that these youth each had unique, difficult experiences and could learn from each other, if given the proper venue and support. Stephanie and her Global Routes college volunteers used Theatre of the Oppressed’s Image Theatre techniques to allow for personal sharing and community support. Progressively targeted games prepared the youth to engage in the non-verbal exercise of using each other’s bodies as clay to tell problem stories and come up with solutions. The students helped each other determine new responses to old behaviors, and each weekend’s return home didn’t seem so scary after all.

- The Great Game of Power
This particular activity, within the Theatre of the Oppressed repertoire, is our favorite. We’ve done it with teenage girls, Native American fine arts college students, study abroad professionals, professors, international audiences, and fellow trainers. We’ve done it in conference halls, classrooms, and in the great outdoors. We’ve explored topics of international politics, family conflicts, corporate hierarchies, immigration, gender and age discrimination, war, natural resource scarcity, employee/boss relations, and work environments. So what is it? The activity is magical and purposeful. It’s engaging and empowering. It’s malleable to any group. It solves problems. Actually, it is the vehicle for participants to solve their own problems. And it involves six chairs, a table, and a water bottle. If you want more, you’ll have to call us. (Sorry.)

One Participant’s Experience with an Activity from Theatre of the Oppressed:

Dear Stephanie,

I want to personally thank you for speaking in . . . on Friday.

During the “chair” exercise, I received a powerful visual I will never forget. I’d like to share this experience with you.

As you recall, the exercise consisted of six chairs, a table, and a water bottle. As I watched others arrange the chairs I imagined my own way: one chair up on the table with the others thrown around in the room, on their sides and upside down. The water bottle would be tucked in close to the chair furthest from the chair on the table.

Before I give you my interpretation I must first explain some background. In the past year I have lost my brother-in-law to cancer (my husband’s brother) and then my own son to cancer. There are no words to express the grief and anguish over the losses, especially that of my precious son.

This week there was more anguish as my 15-month-old nephew had heart surgery, things did not go well, and he is not expected to live. Our whole family is in shock. It seems the tragedies will never end.

As I got my chair visual going though, I realized that I am a survivor, I have an inner-strength I can use to help myself, my children and my family. There may be a powerful, evil force throwing everything at me at once, but I am the one who has been given the true power. I may be upside-down but I have the water; the power. I may rest for a bit before getting back up but then I will get up and carry on—not just carry on but lead. I will hold my head high, filled with the power of inner strength given to me by my never-give-up parents and my pioneer grandparents; fueled by something far greater than myself. Fueled with the knowledge that someday, I will be reunited with those I love in a place free from pain and suffering.

I may be down, but I’m not out. This visual is helping me through these hard days.

“To the world you might just be one person, but to one person you might just be the world.” Anonymous

Thank you,
(name removed for privacy)