2024 Winter Course Personal Awareness Groups

Personal awareness groups are small facilitated, learner centered groups with a maximum of 10 people, focused on imrpvoving skills and safe exploration of thoughts and feeling. Winter Course 2024 will offer the following personal awareness groups. Attendee learning group preferences will be solicited after registration closes.

Matrix Leadership - Amina Knowlan, MS
Diversity - Gerald Boyd, MDIV, ICADC, CADC II
ANIMA Learning - Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTh
Circle of Trust - Penny Williamson, ScD, FAACH

See full descriptions and facilitator bios below!

Matrix Leadership Amina Knowlan, MS

This style fosters communication between each pair of people, building a relational infrastructure “in the eyes and ears of the group” as a foundation that is highly inclusive and that fosters a high degree of trust. In this approach, leadership emerges through the relationships--the interaction of all the members--and by attending to the needs of the developing "Whole" (group or team, etc.). This foundation of forming groups as interconnected, complex adaptive systems—builds the capacity to function as Matrix Leadership Networks. The remaining Matrix Essential practices include 1) cultivating a ground of health and resilience, 2) creating a high feedback culture with appreciative and differentiating feedback, 3) differentiating from habitual group and leadership roles to extend individual range and group intelligence, 4) distributing emotional fields and perspectives, 5) engaging with differences as resources, and 6) redefining conflict as differentiation that leads to true collaboration and emergence. Heightening awareness of, and intervening in, the impact of systems of privilege and oppression; and developing mindfulness and connection with Source (or Wholeness) are centrally important. Participants can expect to learn a method of small group work that breaks down the “island of me” (paradigm of separateness) so that personal awareness and development occur in and through our connections—with an understanding of interconnected consciousness.

Amina Knowlan, MS co-founded Matrix Leadership in 1990 and is currently the Director, Lead Trainer, Facilitator, Consultant and Coach. She has been facilitating groups and trainings in cities throughout the U.S. and Europe for 30 years. Her formal background includes training from the National Training Laboratories for the Behavioral Sciences, as well as an M.S. in Counseling and Teaching Psychology at the University of Missouri. For four years she was the director of the Groups and Outreach Programs in Interpersonal and Group Communication at the University of Missouri Counseling Center. She was a trainer for the Hakomi Institute for Body-Centered Psychotherapy for 12 years. She was also a co-owner and practitioner at Wellspring, Partners in Health (a holistic community medical clinic) for 15 years. She currently works as a consultant, trainer & coach for corporate executive teams, businesses, health care organizations, schools, communities, city and state governments, and non-profits. She works internationally in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sydney, Australia, Singapore and England. She incorporates system’s approaches; somatic, energetic and intuitive awareness; multi-cultural and diversity training as well as dance, movement, voice, art and practices of mindfulness into her work. She considers herself a social architect and is the author of a completed manuscript (in route to publication) on Matrix Leadership. Amina has two adult children and a granddaughter, and lives in the beautiful mountain foothills of Boulder, Colorado. She enjoys salsa dancing, swimming, gardening, cooking and playing with her dog, Takoda.

Anima Learning Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTH

The Anima Learning approach to group development combines insights and practices from four streams: growth mindset, contemplative practice, applied improvisation, and positive reinforcement. We start with the assumption that every individual carries a spark of curiosity that leans toward connection and creativity. Rather than looking to fix or correct when in groups, we come together in a skillfully improvised “community of solitudes” to nurture each other’s innate wisdom—and to explore the group intelligence that emerges from that nurturing.  We establish baseline agreements for our work together so that we can challenge systems and assumptions of privilege and oppression as we go. We pay careful, compassionate attention through the practice of mindfulness. And we learn together through the shared play of improvisation.

We will focus specifically on:

  1.  freeing spontaneity,
  2.  building safety through connection, and
  3.  creative means for sharing stories that want to be shared. Even through Zoom, participants can expect an engaging balance between playful activity, mindful reflection, and deeper conversation.

A graduate of Stanford Business and Harvard Divinity schools, Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTh trained to teach mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn and others at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has studied, taught and performed improvisation internationally, including with BATS Improv in San Francisco, CA. He is one of a small group of registered trainers who have worked with renowned UK acting and voice coach, Patsy Rodenburg.

Currently, he is the founder and CEO of ANIMA Learning. He teaches mindfulness, improvisation, and vocal presence courses through Stanford University’s Continuing Studies program and leads provocative workplace effectiveness trainings for organizations like Genentech, Google, and UCSF. He co-hosts the Monster Baby Podcast (“a curious romp through the worlds of mindfulness and improvisation”) which reaches listeners in more than 60 countries, and his first book, Playful Mindfulness: a joyful journey to everyday confidence, calm, and connection, has received praise for its insight, originality, relevance and humor.

He lives near the beach cliffs of Daly City, California with Luna and Marley, his two quirky and charismatic spotted Ocicats.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Gerald Boyd, MDIV, ICADC, CADC II

The purpose of this group is to explore the history of racist ideas and their impact at the institutional, personally mediated, and internalized levels. We correctly assume that all humans want to be allies with each other; this group aims to increase the participants’ understanding and acceptance for the importance and complexity of creating space for diversity, equity and inclusion in the present context of social disintegration. This group will draw on diversity principles and Matrix-based methods to help achieve participants’ learning goals. Through experiential and didactic components, participants will have the opportunity to explore personal awareness of their numerous identities and the subgroups to which they belong; illuminating, investigating, and ultimately honoring differences between those identities and subgroups; and uncovering the roles of oppression, both external and internalized, and privilege in all interactions, both conflictual and otherwise.
Gerald Boyd, MDiv, ICADC, CADC II has more than 50 years distinguished leadership in human and civil rights, anti-oppression, anti-racism, grass-roots organizing, and liberation  struggles. He is co-founder and COO of Peacewerks Center for Well-Being, LLC, Executive Director of Eastern Shore Training and Consulting, Inc, Organizer and President of the Board of the Samuel D. Outlaw Blacksmith Shop Museum, Member of the Board of Directors of Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce, and Member of 200-Plus Men of Hampton Roads, of Northampton County NAACP, and of Virginia Organizing.  He has worked in the fields of applied sociology, human development, and addiction recovery for more than 50 years. He holds an Honorary PhD and Master of Divinity in Transpersonal Psychology, is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC II) and Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC), a Certified Anger Management Specialist, a Certified Life Coach, and a Certified Mediator and consultant specializing in diversity, equity and inclusion,  conflict resolution, and personal and social transfo

Circle of Trust© Penny Williamson, ScD, FAACH

The ways in which wholeness and division show up within us personally and between us societally are inextricably linked. One of the tensions we hold in our work is the reality that, even as we choose to create spaces that invite the soul and nurture wholeness and relational trust, the forces that push us toward the divided life are always present.

The Courage & Renewal approach helps us actively and intentionally choose to nurture ways of being with ourselves and one another that move against the violent, oppressive forces that create personal and societal division. Instead, we choose to embody core values and practices that move us towards personal and societal wholeness, embracing the genuine within us, and honoring the inherent worth and dignity of every being. These are not choices we make just once, but ones that must be made time and again – for ourselves and our community.

During our sessions, participants will experience a Circle of Trust© incorporating the values and practices of the Courage and Renewal approach. Core values embody 8 choices: to live and work with Integrity (developing greater congruence between our inner and outer lives); Authenticity (showing up as whole people and acting authentically); Diversity (a deeply valued source of strength, richness and wisdom); Community (becoming more aware of the fabric of our connectedness as we do “inner work”); Courage (to persevere and be whole-hearted in the often overwhelming circumstances in which we are trying to make a difference); Love (the capacity to extend ourselves for the sake of another person’s growth; stretching to understand, respect

and support each other); Hope (believing and acting on our most dearly held dreams in the midst of despair and broken-heartedness); and Renewal (time to slow and reflect through the natural and personal cycles of engagement and withdrawal, love and loss, creativity and despair —to renew ourselves and the communities around us).

Core practices include: creating spaces that are open and hospitable, committing to no fixing, saving or advising one another, asking honest, open questions to “hear each other into speech”, exploring the intersection of the universal stories of human experience with the personal stories of our lives, using multiple modes of reflection so that everyone can find their place and pace, and honoring confidentiality

In addition to the lived experience of a Circle of Trust there will be time for group reflection and sense-making to help integrate learning and aid in bringing selected courage practices into participants’ lives and work moving forward.

an expanded version of the Courage and Renewal Approach can be found at www.couragerenewal.org

Penny R. Williamson, ScD, FAACH is an internationally recognized facilitator, educator, and coach for leaders in health care. She is a founding facilitator and mentor for the Center for Courage & Renewal and retired Associate Professor of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. From 1998-2016, Penny led Courage to Lead, an 18 month national leadership development program for leaders in health care and other serving professions, based on the work of Parker Palmer, and on the Courage and Renewal© approach. She has led workshops and

Circle of Trust © retreats in the United States, Canada, the UK, Japan, Kenya, and Israel. Diverse themes include: leading from within, life transitions, living wholeheartedly, leading with integrity and heart, and re-imagining boundaries.

Past roles: Penny has led change efforts in relationship-centered culture building, working with individuals, leadership teams and healthcare organizations. She was founding co-creator and faculty, Leading Organizations to Health, a 10-month institute for healthcare leaders focused on creating and sustaining relational cultures in organizations; founding Executive Vice President and faculty member, Academy of Communication in Healthcare (formerly, American Academy of Communication in Healthcare), founding faculty, Longitudinal Faculty Development Program on Teaching Skills for Physicians, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center; and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle. Philosophy and approaches: Dr. Williamson brings to her work an ecological worldview, belief in and attention to the inner life, expertise in the disciplines of Appreciative Inquiry, World Café, Open Space and Skilled Dialogue; and incorporation in the work of powerful creative modalities including poetry, embodied wisdom, clowning, music and art. Above all she brings a belief in the power of love and capacity of individuals, groups and organizations to contribute to creating a better world. Penny lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania overlooking the Schuylkill River and the vibrant cityscape beyond, with her partner David. She loves cooking and walking, relishing the many museums, river walks, restaurants, and neighborhoods of her new city.