When we talk to you for the first time, you’ll probably notice that we’re always quite willing to admit that Circles are not for everyone. And frankly, we don’t think that any one-size-fits-all solution for workplace training could ever be very effective.
In fact, many of the individuals whose words we’ve reprinted below were not initially sold on our idea. But after they attended our events and learned more about our process, they ultimately had some pretty kind words to say about our founders, our approach, and our results.
On our approach…
“The Circle experience has been truly enlightening. The opportunity to share concerns and opportunities with other non-profit leaders has allowed me to increase my effectiveness at our Center and to develop a much clearer pattern for my leadership development and impact. I have the experience of others to enhance my own sense of direction, and the sharing environment is amazingly beneficial.”
-Marcus Stamps, Executive Director, Davis House Child Advocacy Center
“I made a short list of 5 things I wanted to achieve this year for me professionally/personally. One was ‘be intentional’. Another was ‘find my circle’. Ironically I wrote the word circle not even really having an idea of what that meant but I know in my gut that there was a missing piece for me. A safe small place where I could be myself to find help, healing and wholeness. Little did I know that in some special way the Executive Peer Circle has become that for me. Who knew it would also be the place for me to be better equipped to live more ‘intentionally’. I love the simplicity of the process. The honesty and depth we have been able to get to through the amazing leadership of Tracy and Leigh Ann and the willingness of the fellow directors. I hope it is a group that will continue to meet after our yearlong program is done.
I also went through the Peer Circle training with Tracy with one of my staff and we now conduct our staff meetings in the Peer Circle format. So the transformation has helped beyond myself. It continues to change the way I think about myself and the way I lead. It truly is the necessary tool/learning to becoming a wholehearted servant leader I strive to be.
I encourage anyone who is on the edge of considering to applying for this opportunity to take the time to apply. It is a wonderful gift. Words are inadequate to the peace and joy and strength you will feel when you become a part of this group.”
-Renee Rizzo, CEO, Hope Clinic for Women
“Being a participant in Baptist Healing Trust’s pilot EPCP has been a unique blessing and privilege for me both personally and professionally. I have found myself applying many of the principles of Circle, and even the format, in our Team meetings as well as within the Family Support Group gatherings for the families we serve. Nonprofit Executive Directors face daily challenges, stress, and isolation that can only be fully comprehensible to other ED’s. Without a safe haven for connection, ED’s can be at risk for emotional and physical exhaustion, depersonalization, and burnout. BHT’s deep insight and care for the needs of this exclusive, yet also vulnerable, population of “caregivers” is even further evidence of the heartfelt congruence between BHT’s mission statement and their ongoing “loving care in action”. The opportunity for participation in this program is a true gift for the soul.”
-Juli C. Liske, Executive Director, The Brown Center for Autism
“I have found the experience of participating in this Circle with peers to be incredibly rewarding. The conversational space in group has been a great place to share personal and professional struggles in a supportive and creative environment. I have felt encouraged and supported by the members of the group.”
-Chris O’Rear, Executive Director of Clinical Services, Pastoral Counseling Centers of Tennessee
On our results…
“Circle was introduced the YWCA two years ago, and initially, I was skeptical. Setting aside two uninterrupted hours a month for the entire leadership team to come together seemed like a big commitment, especially when “free time”–that time outside of our really important work–is scarce. After just a few Circle sessions I quickly came to realize this is a key part of our really important work. Strong bonds in leadership build a supportive foundation for the entire organization. Engaging in this process allows us to connect on a personal level, outside of our individual professional roles. Under the Circle Center’s guidance, the Circle process has created a safe space for our team to practice and honor vulnerability, to share and receive diverse perspectives, and to celebrate our growth and success. Engaging in the Circle process has positively impacted not only our relationships with each other, but our ability to shape the culture of our organization.”
-Patricia Glaser Shea, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee
“The Circle Center has been instrumental in helping us to establish a deep sense of trust and community within our organization. Circle has created an environment where everyone’s voice is valued and heard. Through the consistent sharing of individual life experiences, insights and talents, Circle has provided a powerful vehicle for transforming us from a group of human “do-ings” to a family of human “be-ings.”
-Scott Cornwell, Chief Operations Officer, Dispensary of Hope
“Circle creates a space and place for everyone’s voice to be heard; every heart can come into its own with confidence and courage in the environment of circle. Healing occurs when we see and hear each other authentically and circle creates that very opportunity for healing – healing of mind and spirit within and among participants. My experience of circle has been one of wonder, awe, and deep appreciation for the gifts we each bear but that are so often missed in the distracted lives we seem to be living.”
-Catherine Self, Ph.D., President and CEO, The Baptist Healing Trust
“We have been using a Talking Circle as a way to create community and build an environment of trust and safety. All employees are assigned to a Circle, a random group of 10-12 people. Participants share primarily through storytelling; these stories illustrates the participants’ values and what moves them, and at the same time illustrates that we are all human and there are universal experiences we all share. Staff really likes participating, and we are finding that the Talking Circle is building trust within the organization.”
-Mary Bufwack, PhD, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Health Services
“Peer Circle has allowed me to learn from the shared experiences of other non-profit leaders, and to realize that even though our organizations may differ, the problems, opportunities and fears we face are very similar. The support and motivation I received from this collaboration has fundamentally changed my approach to executive leadership.”
-Lisa Terry, CEO, Primary Care & Hope Clinic
On our team..
“A year ago United Neighborhood Health Services initiated a series of activities designed to transform the culture in which we operate. The Circle Sessions that Tracy Roberts and the Circle Center facilitated for us as we entered into this process have been crucial to our clinics’ emergence as trauma-informed, patient-centered medical homes.”
-Bill Friskics-Warren, Director of Homeless Services, United Neighborhood Health Service
“Leigh Ann’s preparation, presentation and ability to immediately capture the attention of our associates is commendable. Leigh Ann always delivers to our high expectations while adding a touch of humor. Thank you for consistently adding value to our leadership series and delivering trainings that result in a real impact and results.”
Ginger Duncan, Senior Manager of Organizational Development & Training, Ingram Barge Company
“Our Association leadership was both impressed and intrigued after hearing Leigh Ann’s presentation on the importance and benefits of conflict management and mediation solutions. Her insight and ideas prompted significant changes to internal policies and procedures governing dispute resolution. I can not recommend Leigh Ann and her services highly enough!”
-David Pair, Director of Governmental Affairs, Williamson County Association of Realtors
“Leigh Ann’s coaching has made a significant impact on my work. Change is hard and Leigh Ann provides a learning environment that is full of heart and wisdom. She brings rich and meaningful insights and tools to the process of personal and professional development. If you are looking to make the next step forward in your life or your work, I recommend you get Leigh Ann on your team!”
– Linda Ford, PhD, Executive and Organizational Consultant
“The Circle Center’s team created a safe haven for open, in-depth conversation in which leaders were able to share the everyday issues & solutions we are having in running nonprofit organizations. We learned new ways to communicate and to understand how our own personalities impact our relationships in our work. We are learning that there is strength in being vulnerable. Being a nonprofit Executive Director is a very unique experience and I am so grateful for this opportunity to be inspired and to grow in my role as a leader of my agency.”
-Lynne Farrar, Executive Director, CASA Works/Bedford & Coffee counties
“Strategic planning is crucial to the success of any organization, requiring a significant commitment of resources and time. Leigh Ann’s facilitation skills kept our group focused and working together throughout the session. The outcome was a clear and concise plan of action that included accountability necessary to produce results.”
– Joey Woodard, Executive Director, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, Inc.
“Leigh Ann is a rockstar! I was empowered and encouraged when I had the privilege to hear her conduct a presentation. She is truly passionate about her work and believes in sharing her knowledge and expertise with others.
– Shvonne Petty, Recruiting Consultant, LifeWay Christian Resources, Human Resources Department
“Leigh Ann was incredible– very relatable and engaging. I appreciated that she was able to share so many very useful, tangible tactics and really connect with our creative audience’s needs and concerns. The attendees said it was one of the best programs they had attended.”
– Casey Summar, Executive Director, Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville
“Leigh Ann Roberts is an individual with a unique and broad professional skill-set as an attorney, corporate trainer, coach, consultant, and mediator. There are simply not enough words orto convey the depth and the width of Leigh Ann’s talent, and most importantly, her professional and personal integrity. Leigh Ann is one of the most “real”, insightful, and unpretentious individuals I know–and as an added bonus, she possesses an infectious sense of humor. I highly recommend Leigh Ann Roberts to any individual, agency, or corporation, as she offers up the very best of herself through her work, and simultaneously brings out the very best in all whom she influences.”
– Juli C. Liske, Founder and Executive Director, The Brown Center
“Leigh Ann Roberts has conducted classes for our programs at the Scarlett Leadership Institute, and she is always extremely well received. She knows her subject matter very well, and is engaging with the students. She also has the one characteristic that I really appreciate in an instructor—she is independent, shows up with what she needs, and is very easy to work with. I work with a lot of instructors, and that matters greatly to me.”
– Mary Fink | VP Programs, Scarlett Leadership Institute
“In professional training and coaching, Leigh Ann Roberts taught me about the power of mediation in my career as well as in my personal life. Her transparent, disarming demeanor and hands-on learning techniques challenged me to look at issues differently and consider the many options for a successful outcome for all parties involved She also has the experience and expertise to mediate complex, sensitive business and organizational matters.”
– Emily Richard, Corporate Communications and Government Affairs Executive
“As a 25-year veteran of the learning and development profession, I can honestly say that Leigh Ann Robert’s “Managing Workplace Conflict” training is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The class is highly interactive with hands-on practice and application of skills. The training itself is strong, but Leigh Ann’s engaging manner and real-life expertise take it over the top. Don’t miss an opportunity to take this class, or other classes, from Leigh Ann!”
– Ellen Hingst Wheat, Manager, Training and Development, Tractor Supply Company
“When the possibility of coaching was first presented to me I was a little skeptical and nervous about it. I was signed up by my boss for six sessions, which was spanned across six months. After, my first session I knew that Leigh Ann would be a good fit for me. We quickly jumped into the work of figuring how it is I operate, lead, and function within the work place. This encompassed both looking at my strengths and how my strengths are at times some of my biggest weaknesses. Throughout our sessions together, I gained a deeper awareness of my triggers and worked around partnering with my weaknesses and senses in becoming more fully authentic and vulnerable within the workplace. Leadership coaching not only helped me in becoming a better leader and co-worker, but I also began to notice tremendous growth within my personal life and began to see how work and personal life affected each other. I would highly recommend leadership coaching and the Circle Center for anyone serious about taking their work and skills to the next level. “
– Aaron Palmer, Housing Director, Safe Haven Family Shelter