PNDC for Diversity & Cultural Competence

Training Context & Overview:

Our understanding of how essential it is to learn to communicate across lines of difference has been rapidly developing in recent decades. Once focused primarily on differences in culture and experience for people from various races, definitions of diversity now commonly include groups of different ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation, as well as age, profession and even personality. While diversity is not classified as a "professional field" in the same sense as education or business, it is now an ever-expanding field of study. Countless people devote their professional lives to research and training that can bring about the changes we need to function effectively across these many lines of difference in the 21th century. Currently, an increasingly wider spectrum of organizations are responding by putting significant energy and resources into enhancing cultural competence.

At the same time, far too many people still hold the limited view of "diversity training" reflected in the phrase, "I already had Diversity 101; I don't need more." As another saying goes, our "world is getting smaller" and our relationships are increasingly more heterogenous. This is true not only at work and in our communiies, but often, in our own homes. Fifty years ago, marrying someone from a difference branch of the Christian religion — such as a Protestant marrying a Catholic — was considered to be highly unacceptable by many Americans. Now, primary and extended and/or merged families are much more likley to have members who are from, for example, many different races, religions, and sexual orientations.

It's hard enough to create understanding among homogenous groups of people. When we communicate with people who have significant differences in beliefs and ways of reasoning, as well as what is considered acceptable expressions of emotion, it can be overwhelming. Being open to an expanding cultural awareness can challenge our sense of security, where tradition and habit feel like a comfortable pair of old slippers — blocking us from any awareness of the richness of experience that can come with the change. In addition, traditional communication methods often lead us straight to judgment, before we have a chance to consider what might be possible. In families, as well as at work and in our communities, misunderstanding can lead to mistrust and even hatred. With the level of increasingly available destructive technology, learning to communicate in ways that have the power to disarm defensiveness becomes imperative. More . . .

Client List:

Conference Keynotes, such as for: "Diversity: Tools, Action and Accountability," Multnomah County/City of Portland, Oregon; The Global Women’s Health Initiative, leadership development for selected women scientists working with women’s health issues in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe; Facing a Challenge Within: A Progressive Scholars and Activists Conference on Anti-Semitism and the Left; Nordstrom Regional Diversity Managers; Latino Medical School Association, Annual Regional Board Conference; Matrix (an advocate organization for parents of children with special needs); and Skills for Success, National Women's Leadership Conference, sponsored by the Women's Forum of the Canadian Bar Association.

Training Programs, such as for: New Community Meeting, bringing together GLBT people with conservative Christians; San Francisco Jail, Empowerment Project for Women Prisoners; Youth Enrichment Now, Richmond, CA; and the Kahneeta Tribe, Warm Springs, OR. More . . .

Client Comments:

“Sharon was able to communicate effectively across lines of culture and received the highest ratings from the attendees" . . . “As a woman of color, I thought this was outstanding. She brought me to tear!l" ". . . facilitate[s] sensitive communications about differences in race, religion, class status and leaves people feeling connected instead of alienated, and enlightened instead of embattled.". . . "Each person became an active participant letting down his/her defenses." ". . . allowing all parties to feel heard and respected." ". . . learned so much from watching your style and listening to you." ". . . the energy, caring and sensitivity with which you facilitated." ". . . an avenue to address misunderstandings and conflicts instead of having them eat away at [our] hearts and souls. More . . .

Complete Information Packet . . .

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We need Sharon Ellison's work in our homes, in our offfices, and most of all, in our hearts.

—Evelyn C. White, editor, The Black Women's Health Book





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