People in conversation

Dialogue Tools for Religious, Community, and Non-Profit Leaders

Faith, community, and nonprofit leaders alike face the challenges of working with internal and external community members in a mission-driven context. Purposeful organizations can become hobbled when differences arise around identities, values, and visions. They can erupt, causing incredible harm, or lie unaddressed in stagnation.

Internally, with an organization’s members and/or staff, EP’s approach can deepen relationships to foster understanding, care, and belonging. It builds the capacity to live out your stated values while identifying, celebrating, and engaging the differences that do exist. And it lets you create robust, aware leadership groups that work joyously and effectively together to address concerns.

Used with external stakeholders, EP’s approach can help you recognize needs, hopes, and emerging potentials, resolve conflicts and address opportunities, and invite collaboration. It can deepen community relationships to work together towards a shared future, as stewards of love in the world in ways that match the mission.

Dialogic thinking and processes can enable leaders to prevent dysfunctional conflict and build the capacity of their members to reach across differences to achieve common goals.

This workshop will introduce leaders to the basics of Reflective Structured Dialogue (RSD), an approach that has been field-tested over 30 years in a wide variety of organizations in 25 countries around the world.

As a result of this workshop, you will be equipped to:

  • Identify dysfunctional group dynamics
  • Design and facilitate productive conversations about divisive issues and dynamics
  • Defuse “us” vs. “them” dynamics through intensive participant preparation and intentional conversational design
  • Bring deep, connected awareness to your leadership
  • Foster a more resilient community that engages its differences and diversity of views

Who might participate:

  • Clergy and lay religious leaders
  • Non-profit leaders 
  • Leaders of independent schools
  • Grassroots organizers
  • Local civic leaders

Looking for a basic introduction to Essential Partners’ theory and framework?
Consider attending Intro to Dialogue Across Differences.

Already an experienced facilitator who’s familiar with EP’s approach?
Take a look at our Advanced Facilitation Skills workshop.

Find both Intro to Dialogue Across Differences and Advanced Facilitation Skills on the EP workshop calendar.

Accreditation and Continuing Education

Essential Partners provides a certificate upon completion of the workshop that can be used to support a request for professional development credits.

Travel & Lodging

There is ample free parking in the lots outside our offices, but traffic in the area can be extremely congested. If possible, we recommend taking the MBTA Red Line to Alewife. Essential Partners' offices are a short (10 min) walk from the station.

If you are planning to travel to the Boston area for a workshop, we recommend booking a room at one of two partner hotels:

  • Freepoint Hotel is adjacent to the Essential Partners office, and offers a corporate rate for our attendees. Click Here for more information.
  • AC Hotel Boston Cambridge is located two miles from the Essential Partners offices. They offer a corporate rate for our attendees and provide a free shuttle. Click Here for more information.


Essential Partners provides a limited number of partial or full scholarships for each workshop it hosts. A member of the staff will inform applicants of their decisions six weeks prior to the workshop date; applicants will confirm their acceptance by registering online. Scholarships are granted based on two criteria: financial need; and  potential for impact on a community level.

Fill out this form to apply for a scholarship.

Cancellation Policies

If you must cancel, please do so as far in advance as possible. Cancellations are subject to a $25 administration fee plus an additional $25 to process credit card refunds (if you paid by credit card). To receive any refund your cancellation must be made at least 2 weeks before the course date. Essential Partners is under no obligation to offer any refund or credit if you cancel within two weeks of a workshop. If you need to cancel due to a medical emergency, your local weather conditions, or any other reason please call Sara Ostrovitz at (617) 923-1216 ext. 10.

In some instances, Essential Partners must cancel a workshop due to low enrollment, faculty illness, or weather. In the unlikely event that we have to cancel a workshop due to low enrollment, we will give you at least 2 weeks notice. If we cancel due to faculty illness or severe weather, we will contact you as far in advance as possible. If there is a severe storm warning in the area of the workshop venue, we will cancel by 4:00 pm the day before.

If the workshop is canceled, Essential Partners will issue you a full refund of the registration fee, with no additional administration fees. Essential Partners cannot be responsible for travel losses.

For more information, please contact us at or 617-923-1216 ext. 10.


September 17-18, 2020
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM Eastern Time


186 Alewife Brook Parkway
Ste 212
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States


Regular Fee
Early Bird Special
Register with a Friend


Bob Stains is a Senior Associate at Essential Partners.

Kathy Eckles is an Associate at Essential Partners and Project Manager.