It’s Time to Talk

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It’s Time to Talk: Our One Day Forum on Race and Bias

THIS YEAR’S EVENT: Join us on Friday, February 15th, 2019 for our 5th Annual It’s Time to Talk (ITT) forum on race. This year’s event will ask the question, “Can humor heal?”

Our Keynote Speaker is Founder and CEO of Haha Institute, Karen Williams. Karen graduated summa cum laude from Cleveland State University with a personally-designed major in “Humor and Healing.” She earned a Master of Education degree from CSU’s Adult Learning & Development program. Karen will be exploring the theme of humor and diversity with our guests.

ABOUT ITT: It’s Time to Talk (ITT) is a unique one day forum on combating racism and unconscious bias. ITT features a keynote, a gallery walk, small group circle conversations, as well as a World Cafe. ITT gives participants the opportunity to share their lived experience, learn from others, and begin the work of finding solutions that will allow us to begin to heal our community from the harm caused by racial profiling and unconscious bias.

PURPOSE: To expand racial understanding and cultural competency through dialogue among community and business members of different races with the ultimate goal of eliminating barriers that foster racism and discrimination. We do this by creating a safe space for dialogue where community participants can actively work through the issues of racism and discrimination.

STRATEGY: Create opportunities for significant dialogue and conversations that move beyond the superficial. Invite people from every ethnicity and community to participate in a dialogue to affirm how important diversity is to Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

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“There’s an area in all of our lives to be a champion of dismantling racism. We take a little corner and begin to peel it back.”
YWCA Greater Cleveland President & CEO Margaret Mitchell

What to Expect

Gallery Walk

Each year the YWCA Staff chooses a collection of photographs to be displayed at ITT. Before the program officially begins, attendees are invited to view these images and respond with their thoughts and revisit them throughout the day. Below, you can see some of the images that past participants had the opportunity to view and the notes they left.


Keynote Speakers

Our 2018 forum featured powerful keynote speakers Andrew Collins and Jameel McGee. Collins was a police officer for nearly five years. He then served 18 months is prison for possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. McGee was falsely arrested by Collins on drug charges and served four years in prison until his case was overturned when Collins admitted to falsifying evidence. McGee and Collins now regularly speak together at universities, schools, churches, and civic organizations about their path to forgiveness and friendship.

Previous ITT Keynote Speakers:

  • Jane Campbell: Served as the 56th and first female mayor of Cleveland, Ohio from January 1, 2002 to January 1, 2006.
  • Rev. Joan Brown-Campbell: Leader in the ecumenical interfaith movement where she gave leadership for over 30 years. She was also the first woman Director of Religion at the historic Chautauqua Institution.
  • Bernie Moreno: President & CEO of Bernie Moreno Companies
  • Dr. Akram Boutros: President and Chief Executive Officer of Metrohealth

Small Circle Conversations

ITT attendees are grouped with approximately 8-10 other individuals for small group conversation. In the circle, all participants, regardless of role or status, age or experience, are considered of equal importance, with equal voice.

The conversation in moderated by a facilitator who participates in the process and ensures a safe space.

The Circle conversation process creates a distinctive kind of space for restorative dialogue. Circles are fashioned in such a way that interconnections, interdependence, and equality within the community are highlighted.

The contemporary circle process draws upon a historic indigenous tradition practiced commonly in North America, the talking circle, with utilizes a talking piece that is passed from person to person around the circle, signaling the opportunity to speak. The circle process seeks to give voice to all participants, equalize power, integrate holistic perspectives, build toward consensus and cooperation, and draw upon innate wisdom and experience.

World Cafe

World Cafe is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Cafe is more than a method, a process or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.

How it Works

  • Welcome and Introduction: The facilitator begins with a warm welcome and an introduction to the World Cafe process.
  • Small Group Conversations: The process begins with the first of three twenty-minute rounds of conversation for small groups. At the end of the twenty minutes, each member of the group moves to a different new table. A table host remains at the table for the next round, and welcomes the next group and briefly fills them in on what happened in the previous round.
  • Questions: Each round is prefaced with a question that each group will eventually answer.
  • Share Results: After the small group conversations, individuals are invited to share insights or other results from their conversations with the rest of the large group. Some of the results will be shared in the group commitment to change in the auditorium.

Become an It’s Time To Talk Facilitator

It’s Time to Talk relies on volunteer facilitators to run the small group circle conversations. Facilitators must attend a training provided by YWCA staff before they are eligible to lead conversations at ITT. During the training, potential facilitators are taught how to create a safe space for conversation by ensuring that ALL participants follow these conversation guidelines:

  1. What you share within the context of the group is confidential, honored and respected.
  2. Use “I” statements, no one speaks for another or for an entire group of people.
  3. Avoid critiquing others’ experiences, focus on your own experiences.
  4. Be honest and willing to share.
  5. Listen with curiosity and the willingness to learn and change. Resist the desire to interrupt.
  6. Be brief and share time equally.
  7. Suspend judgement. Be open to the kernel of truth in each person’s story.

If you want to participate in YWCA Greater Cleveland’s mission to eliminate racism, register to an ITT Facilitator today!


Want to get involved?

Contact Heather Steranka-Petit, Manager of Learning Programs