Comments by Conference & Meeting Planners

The following comments are made by planners from a range of professions, including: alternative dispute resolution, business, education, government, healthcare, law, and non-profit.


Sharon Ellison is fabulous! She did an incredible job at our annual conference where she presented “The Power of Non-Defensive Communication” to over 300 people at our opening plenary. The response was a standing ovation.  Everyone felt they had been touched and educated. Sharon's work has very broad implications for communication at every level with staff, clients, and volunteers, and can greatly enhance the services we provide. The appeal and application of PNDC is universal and offers a powerful tool for social change.  In fact, the potential for professional and personal growth is unlimited.

We have already integrated Sharon's concepts and material from her book into ANSA's leadership development program and will be inviting her to present as part of our Leadership Development Institute. I highly recommend her and her work and believe she is a rare and exceptional talent.  Sharon is a brilliant speaker, a tremendous motivator and an outstanding educator.

—Frank Abdale, Executive Director, Association of Nutrition Services Agencies, an international membership organization focused on nutrition services for the critically ill


Thank you for your outstanding keynote at our recent conference. You were so inspiring and we were re-energized by your enthusiasm for our efforts. We were so fortunate to have had the benefit of your wisdom and experience. Your insight into the art of communication was invaluable. We are all on an emotional high, even though we know there is still a great deal of work ahead and there will be barriers and resistance. We know that we will continue to be in touch with you and there will be many opportunities for future collaboration. 

—William D. Rhine, M.D., Medical Director, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
 & Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine

—Joan Forte, RN, BSN, Patient Care Manager of the IICN, Stanford Hospital, Johnson Unit, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital


As an Oregon Mayor and President of Oregon State Human Resource Managers Association, I have had the unique opportunity to observe Sharon Ellison speaking to these two diverse groups within a couple of month's time frame.  It is remarkable that Sharon is able to adapt her speaking content to meet the specific topics and issues of each group. Sharon has the ability to establish rapport and build trust with her manner and presentation style, which is so comfortable that participants feel as if they are just talking with a close friend.  In my opinion, that's the secret to her success, participants are learning critical communication skills while visiting with someone they connect with and trust.  I would highly recommend and trust Sharon to speak to any group without reservation.

—Lore Christopher, Director, Human Resources, Executive Branch, State of Oregon


I am writing to heartily recommend Sharon Ellison as a featured speaker at any conference or gathering. As co-chair of the recent annual conference of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR) USA here in Austin, I was honored and delighted when Sharon accepted our invitation to present on her work on Powerful Non-Defensive Communication. Not only did she share her brilliant techniques but she also dazzled the packed room with her deep wisdom, sensitivity and humor. Not surprisingly, her session got 100% satisfaction ratings across the board and many of the attendees said that it was one of the best sessions of the conference and should have been allocated more than two hours.

—Jeremy Solomons, President-Elect, SIETAR, USA


After seeing you in action at the conference and learning more about the PNDC process you teach in the full-day workshop, I believe it is more powerful and effective than any other communication technique I have seen. I wonder what could happen if you were involved in the Middle East peace talks.

Maureen A. Tighe, U.S. Department of Justice


With regard to your keynote, in speaking to a large group of about 700 people, you used humor very effectively and engaged the audience immediately. You used yourself as a teaching tool and they could see you as human. You used imagery and painted a scenario which people could visualize. I found myself envisioning the people in your stories as you spoke and you linked the scenarios to the teaching points in a way that was moving.

Having the non-defensive tools is so important for us as an organization, as a county. All of us work in teams in various ways and team members have such a diversity of ideas as well as diversity of background and experience. You were so accurate when you talked about how we get into a war mentality, and then people think, "I have to win," and they get locked into power struggle, which can be like an addiction. The beauty of your approach is that you showed us how to speak with clarity without being defensive or attacking. I have already used the skills you taught us.

Mohammed Abu Zayed, Ph.D., Speakers Committee, Chair, Multnomah County/City of Portland 9th Annual Diversity Conference: "Diversity: Tools, Action and Accountability"


Sharon Ellison presented a full day conference presentation on Powerful, Non-Defensive Communication for a group of two hundred and twenty occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language clinicians and educators from all over the State of Oregon. The response to the training Sharon provided was remarkable. I have offered this conference with a variety of keynote speakers for twelve years and have never had such a positive response to a keynote speaker. I began receiving calls the morning after the conference from individual educators who had already been able to successfully use Powerful Non-Defensive Communication™ skills with students, parents, co-workers and in their private lives. Everyone who called asked if I could bring Sharon back to next year's conference for a follow-up presentation.

Gayl Bowser, Oregon State Coordinator, Regional Services for Students with Severe Orthopedic Impairments, Douglas County ESD, Roseburg, OR


As Executive Director of the UCSF Center for Gender Equity, I invited Sharon to speak at a leadership conference for women of color students in the health sciences. Some professors also participated. The conference was designed to increase the pool of women in career, academic paths in the UC Health Science system with a particular emphasis on women from underrepresented backgrounds. As always, Sharon’s presentation was engaging, participatory and highly valuable. She was able to communicate effectively across lines of culture and received the highest ratings from the attendees. Comments included:

“Amazing information! Very powerful. The best and most practical workshop of the conference.”

 “As a woman of color, I thought this was outstanding. She brought me to tears!”

“I think this was the best talk I have been to in my entire medical career.”

 —Amy Levine, Director, Gender Equity Center, UCSF Medical School


The Berkeley PTA Council invited Sharon Ellison to speak in a public forum for the Berkeley community. She is a gifted public speaker. Sharon gave us information about non-defensive communication, did role plays and invited audience participation. She also had the opportunity to show us, in real time,how her method worked and it worked flawlessly. Everything Sharon did appeared effortless and graceful, yet effective.  The process Sharon teaches does work. So much important work is done in community forums across the country, in schools, in local government, and in grass-roots organizations. I think almost any group could benefit from learning Sharon's methods.

—Derick Miller, President, Berkelely PTA Council, Berkeley, CA


The seminar achieved a great deal by getting the delegates to analyze their own behavior and assess how defensive behavior can arise during the course of legal negotiations. It is an invaluable course for anyone who is involved in negotiations of any kind. It was an excellent day, with a very clear, professional and unpretentious presentation. It was also refreshing to have someone challenging something as fundamental as our rules of communication without preaching or being too idealistic. 

Katy Lawrence, Centre for Dispute Resolution, 10th Anniversary Conference, London, England


Our attendees received more than they were expecting from your keynote and your breakout session on "Dealing With Resident and Family Complaints."  I was surprised at the degree of knowledge you had of Long Term Care and the type of situations that can cause our employees to feel and act defensively with family members. Your presentation was a breathe of fresh air.  You provided powerful tools that can both help improve customer satisfaction and reduce turnover at the same time. Too often, we sacrifice good employees because we act as if "the customer is always right" even when we know that they are not. The principles in your presentation and your book apply to almost every setting.

—Robert Vande Merwe, Idaho Health Care Association


Sharon was our Keynote Speaker for our first Teen Summit at Delta Junior and Senior High School. She was received with respect as she role-modeled, told stories and dialogued with the students. I think the kids thought Sharon was pretty cool. They really got a kick out of role-playing with her. There was a lot of laughter and fun in this learning. We were able to break up into workshops, both for the student council and other students, which added even more benefit as the students were able to practice how to handle real conflicts. Sharon met with the upper elementary students where she herself was inspired by the importance of reaching the youth early. Sharon also provided training for teachers and parents in our school district. Sharon Ellison's ability to reach the people of Delta Junction was inspiring.

Ruby Hollembaek, Safe Schools Coordinator, Delta Junction, AK


Sharon Ellison did a great presentation as our keynote speaker for our recent conference for Parent Training and Information Centers in the western states. Multiple layers of good communication skills are crucial for the staff of our Parent Training and information Centers, first, because they are parents of children with special needs, themselves, who must navigate the complex systems of services in order for their children to benefit. In addition, the parent center staff must model good communication techniques for the families and professionals they are working with.  Sharon’s strategies embedded in the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication presentation provide techniques the conference attendees can use to diffuse some potentially contentious or tense situations, allowing all parties to feel heard and respected.  Even though we only had Sharon for a limited time, we all left with practical nuggets.  We all wished we had the opportunity for the full series!”

—Nora Thompson, Executive Director Matrix Parent Network & resource


Your presentation was wonderful! It touched a nerve for everyone. Your presentation was well received by the more knowledgeable members, and by those who usually criticize the challenge speakers. I feel it was one of the best presentations in the five years the Forum of Executive Women has been in existence. 

— Jeanie Wilkens, Program Director, Forum of Executive Women, St. Cloud, MN


Sharon Ellison provided a day-long keynote for the Northern California Mediation Association Annual Conference. It was one of the best-attended conferences we have ever had. People felt excited and challenged by the content and structure of her keynote, role-plays, and interactions with audience members. She received a standing ovation.

— Emily Doskow, attorney and mediator, Panelist for the U.S. District Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel


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