Behind the Curtain of the Great Oz

Designing and Facilitating Effective Trainings

Training the Trainers Institute

This training is for experienced professionals and educators in their field with advanced content expertise and well established interpersonal skills. Attendees are asked to bring an idea or training design they would like to improve. Throughout the workshop, we will apply new tools to the design of one of your own presentations.

Professionals who train are primarily content experts who learn the craft of designing presentations through valuable practice and experience. Most don’t get the chance to deepen their skills of design so that they might analyze and reliably build upon their successes and share them with others in the field. By learning the tools needed to be effective with adult learners, colleagues can support one another in strengthening their presentations beyond the end of the workshop.

When our daily work is in service to others, it renders us acutely aware of the dynamics of power. In designing our trainings, we can employ a set of principles that are respectful, empowering and accountable. We can ensure that participants’ contributions and learning are at the center of every design, and that we are continually inspired by the voices of those we serve.

As trainers, we can improve even our most successful designs by:

  • creating the most effective sequencing of learning tasks
  • that ensure the participants know they are learning in a respectful, energetic and challenging forum
  • that offers participants positive engagement
  • with ideas, attitudes, skills and concepts carefully selected
  • to meet the learning outcomes that the participants can accountably obtain.

In this workshop, we will apply the elements of adult learning-centered approaches to education, and examine and apply the elements of effective learning tasks, sequence and group learning dynamics in light of relevant educational theory. We will learn and practice supportive feedback methods to support a learning community among our colleagues. Seasoned trainers leave with design tools to make their best work stronger; new trainers learn how to reliably craft and deliver excellent training design.

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“I have been a trainer and facilitator for over 30 years, and this was by far one of the best facilitator trainings I have ever attended. JAC’s ability to match content and process was phenomenal, particularly given the range of experience of participants, and she did so with incredible skill and grace. Whether you are new to this field or seeking a refresher, I highly recommend this program.”

—Tom Schiff, Ed.D., Executive Director, Phallacies, Inc.

Storytelling for Social Change

Telling the story of your work to extend your message and motivate supporters.

“Don’t you know yet?
It is your light that lights the worlds.”  — Rumi

We invite you to join us in a creativity workshop aimed at strengthening the ability of all staff to tell the essential story of the work we do in a way that is brief, natural, and compelling. Together, we will explore how audience, character, conflict, and calls to action impact our message. We will clarify our own understanding of the kind of change we seek through the work we do and the message we want to impart.
We will learn simple ways to use our voice and bodies to convey our message naturally. During the session, we’ll tell our stories to one another in small learning groups in a supportive, safe environment. Our facilitator JAC Patrissi is a professional storyteller and author. As a former writing teacher at Choate Rosemary Hall, she coaches development and social change professionals in storytelling, runs storytelling events and regularly tells nonprofit essential stories through film, newspaper, radio, and local television.

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“I went to a large conference on using creativity in our field, attended by a wide variety of nonprofit membership. This workshop was not the keynote, but should have been, as it was hands down the best thing about the conference. What I learned over the few hours in the workshop has completely changed how I communicate the work of the nonprofit I work for. One other thing stands out for me—at one point JAC shared with us a storytelling ritual that she was given by some women she had worked with in North Africa who had asked her to share the gift with others she worked with. One of the young women in the room “called her out” on cultural appropriation and was quite rude about it. I felt myself getting angry. When JAC responded, she was not defensive. It was like there was not a defensive bone in her body. I may have learned more about leadership from that interaction than I did about storytelling for change, if that is possible!”

—Janice Leisenring, Maryland

“As a visual artist who works with survivors of domestic violence, I have had the honor of collaborating with JAC on an art exhibit and storytelling event.

“JAC’s role with the participants was as a healing presence and guide, coaxing out their stories into words that could be shared with others.  It has been a privilege to watch JAC work her magic with this.  Through her guidance, each participant was able to tell a powerful, moving story of their experience. The stories often started out incoherent and rambling, as an emotional release. With JAC’s gentle guidance, the words came together in a way that the participant was able to feel truly heard, possibly for the first time.

“JAC then worked with the participants to weave the stories into a moving and enlightening performance. I witnessed these participants as they travelled through their stories, transforming as they went. Additionally, this profound work created a bond with the audience, who then also became a part of the healing community.  JAC has the sophistication, the skill and the heart that makes this level of connection possible. Without exaggeration, everyone’s lives were changed after each of her facilitated storytelling events—the lighting and sound people, the audience, the storytellers, me.”

—Babs Mayer, Artist and Advocate



Building Intersectional Connection

Warming towards action across communities.


Ms. Patrissi uses storytelling and small group learning tasks to apply key concepts related to ally-ship across race, gender expression, class, age, dis/ability, rural and urban culture and other identities.

Participants in this workshop will increase their awareness of their own social location and its impact on our community of practice. Participants will identify how, in the face of exploitation, marginalization and powerlessness, we can most effectively and compassionately do our work.

This presentation was the keynote for the New England Conference Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in 2014. It has since been adapted as a training for hundreds of human service  and development professionals and for grassroots social justice efforts.


Moving In, Moving Through

Body centered approaches for working with people impacted by trauma

By the end of this workshop, participants will have practiced key body centered skills that positively impact the resilience of people you work with who are impacted by trauma. We will explore the ways in which vulnerability or resilience lies in your interactions with those you serve, identifying the key variable to outcomes that promote resilience.

Workshop participants will review the sequence of neurobiological effects of traumatic events and then learn and practice the body centered skills that mediate these impacts and that can help increase the effectiveness of your work. You will learn to anticipate key turning points where you can use your positional authority to reduce risk and to promote a positive trajectory of healing and stability in those you serve.

Ms. Patrissi has presented versions of this workshop at national conferences, and within the United States Marine Corps at Quantico.


Structured Dialogue about Restorative Justice and Power

Ms. Patrissi was invited into restorative practices within the Maori culture in New Zealand in 1989. These early lessons influenced her work in crime victim services and the restorative practices as applied to community justice, parallel justice and restorative justice in juvenile, adult and community settings.

Ms. Patrissi’s contribution to these efforts has been to use structured dialogue to help practitioners think critically about the context and application of restorative principles. What factors must we consider in success restorative programs? What is the context and the content that would not integrate well into restorative practice?

In this workshop, participants will consider the opportunities and limits of restorative practice within community, school and correctional practice. Among other contexts, will consider the limits of restorative practice when addressing the underlying power dynamics at play in bullying, destructive or abusive relationships. We will creatively explore the impact of exploitation, marginalization and powerlessness in communities we serve when considering restorative approaches.


The Growing A New Heart Retreat Series

This series offers safe and nurturing women-only space. (When appropriate — and with advance notice given to participants considering attending — a visiting male co-facilitator may assist for distinct segments of the work together. ) Through carefully sequenced dialogue, movement, storytelling and creative ritual, participants reconnect with their inner wisdom. Through supportive facilitation, individual and group attention, each woman emerges with insight and a plan for moving forward in her journey.


Retreat Options:


Should I Stay or Should I Go?

For women who are still in relationships and are sorting out whether their relationship can — or should — be saved.

A Path to Healing From DestructiveRelationships

For women who are starting out on their healing journeys.

Moving In, Moving Through — The Body of Joy

For women who are healing from a sexually destructive relationship.

Together, we will explore:

  • Finding ways to experience safe and mindful presence in the body as it is
  • The practice of experiencing and becoming a loving witness to one’s own body story
  • What it means to move authentically with great care for the wounds you carry
  • Finding your perfect pace in body healing
  • The healing of body grief and safe, joyful sensuality




Our time together:


  • Singing
  • Relaxation Exercises
  • Free time
  • Outdoor time
  • Shared Meals
  • Large and Small Group dialogue
  • Small Group planning for individual healing
  • Emotional support
  • Movement activities
  • Art Projects