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Do No Harm: Recognizing Trauma in the Social Sector

September 13 @ 12:30 pm3:30 pm EDT

Do No Harm: Recognizing Trauma in the Social Sector

A three-part leadership lab series on learning to pivot our thinking in the social sector to minimize potential harm in our practices

The influence of white-dominant culture on American philanthropy has resulted — intentionally and unintentionally — in underfunded nonprofit organizations in communities of color, poorer health outcomes amongst the LGBTQ community, inequitable hiring practices, and other disparities.

The nonprofit sector has often visited trauma on many of the communities our efforts are designed to lift up. For lasting change to take place, organizational leaders and stakeholders need to examine which of our practices cause harm and which lead to empowerment and respect.

In this series, we will explore:

  • How we define trauma in philanthropy and explore how it may manifest during interactions with clients, team members, or the community
  • How organizations and individuals show up in the work
  • Asset-based language and practice, and how a change in orientation can improve relationships and outcomes

This series is for nonprofit leaders, including board and staff members, foundation leaders, program staff, and community stakeholders. We’ll explore not only how we show up to our work, but how our work impacts the communities we serve.

Individual Price:  $179
Group Price (2 or more):  $159 per person
Current GVSU students/faculty/staff:  $50

Instructors: Tamela Spicer & Tiana Hawver
Format: Virtual
Deadline to Register: September 9

Please Note: Due to the interactive nature of the sessions, they will not be recorded for later viewing.

Meeting Dates & Times

This series includes three virtual sessions — one afternoon per month for three months — on Tuesdays, September 13, October 11, and November 8.

Session 1: Step Into the Room  //  September 13, 12:30–3:30 p.m. (ET)

We’ve all been in situations where we felt compelled to display a different version of ourselves to those around us — whether it’s a donor dinner, or deciding what to wear to work or an event. This code-switching can itself be harmful; while for some in our networks, whether they be colleagues or program participants, showing up authentically has meant facing microaggressions and worse.

This first session of the leadership lab series will explore the research on social trauma and how we can begin to reframe and practice a new way of working to better support our missions.

Participants will begin to:

  • Develop a baseline understanding of trauma and secondary trauma
  • Look at their specific organizations to recognize how they show up in communities
  • Understand the power of language and story
  • Learn about and begin to practice resilience

Session 2: Context is Key
  //  October 11, 12:30–3:30 p.m. (ET)

Philanthropic work stems from a love for humanity, but intentions do not always equal outcomes. In the second session of this series, we’ll look at the history of philanthropy in the United States and consider where we’ve made progress and where we may have caused unintentional harm.

Participants will begin to:

  • Recognize forms of harm in order to open conversations and develop alternatives and fixes
  • Understand how today’s leaders can disrupt inequitable practices
  • Learn and practice what it means to show up wholly and authentically

Session 3: Time to Pivot
  //  November 8, 12:30–3:30 p.m. (ET)

In this final session, we’ll examine case studies from organizations that have made intentional changes to create space for staff, board members, and the communities they serve to show up whole and build a better way forward.

We’ll consider key opportunities and decision points, apply learnings to our own contexts, and discover how these organizations are planning to pivot to move forward.

Participants will begin to:

  • Unpack real stories and identify opportunities for growth
  • Review language from actual grant proposals, brochures, etc. to examine what may be triggering versus empowering for individuals and communities
  • Tips and tools to help your organization pivot to more equitable practices

Who should attend this course?
This course is intended for nonprofit staff, board members, executive directors, and development directors. If you do not fit this profile but are interested in attending, please email Tiana Hawver before registering.

Questions about this event or about your registration?
Call 616-331-7585 or email Tiana Hawver.

Photo: Tamela Spicer
Tamela Spicer, M.A., is a senior program manager at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. As a member of our learning services team, she guides sector leaders and organizations in discovering how they can work within their own ecosystems to create community change grounded in justice and belonging. Learn more about Tamela.

Photo: Tiana Hawver
Tiana Hawver, M.S., is the office coordinator at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, overseeing office operations for new and established staff. Tiana works closely with the director of operations on financials and also serves as chair of the center’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. Tiana is an accomplished speaker and communicator, often asked to facilitate or host various events and meetings. She has served at various nonprofits and been a board member for service-oriented organizations. Learn more about Tiana.


September 13
12:30 pm–3:30 pm EDT
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