the art of relational facilitation

A Symposium for All Tending to the Heart of Our Movements for Healing, Justice and Liberation

10-5PM EDT / 2-9PM UTC

The Future is Relational

At Courage of Care, we understand the roots of our current crises to be fundamentally relational in nature – ruptures in relationship with our planet and with each other. Relational disconnection is threatening democracies and our collective social fabric: worldwide we are witnessing trends of greater inequality, polarization, alienation, and othering. Even in social justice movement spaces where community readiness for addressing systemic injustice has risen sharply, organizations and people require both healing and skills necessary to work in multi-identity spaces, to work through conflict generatively, and across issues or sectors.  


We believe that the solutions to our crises can be best realized through nurturing and strengthening relational culture and solidarity within our communities, organizations and movements for justice and liberation. Without tending to the relational culture of our movements, we are building our movements on a fragile base, at risk of perpetuating the very systems of oppression that we are working to transform.


Our work therefore centers on supporting those working towards justice and liberation with skills to build coalitions rooted in compassion-based, truth-telling, counter-oppressive, healing-centered, visionary and transformative practice. We call this art relational culture building and those who practice this art relational facilitators. 

About the Symposium


This symposium is designed to help affirm and visibilize the art of relational culture building. This gathering will draw presenters and participants  from various movements, disciplines, and contexts to share approaches, challenges, and practices for strengthening relational culture in movement spaces. We hope that this symposium can serve to foster confidence and competence, weave connections, and strengthen our growing practice community.

Symposium sessions are organized around our framework for building relational culture, CourageRISE. Community members are welcome to join us for any and all sessions. Folks may also request video recordings of the program.

Additional panelists and presenters will be added and announced in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Welcome Session

10am Eastern | 2pm UTC

Building Compassionate, Truth-Telling, Healing-Centered and Visionary Cultures of Practice

with Brooke Lavelle, Ph.D. & Maha El-Sheikh

Gather with us as we set the intentions, frame and practice field for the day. And meet your symposium hosts, Courage Co-Directors Brooke Lavelle and Maha El-Sheikh.

Maha El-Sheikh (she/her) is core faculty at Courage of Care, and a member of the International Solidarity Movement, where she partners with relational facilitators and leaders in the economic, racial and climate justice movements. With 20 years working in the international humanitarian sector, Maha’s work currently focuses on the social injustices underlying our global crises. As a facilitator, she is inspired by 15 years living and working in Palestine and Lebanon, learning how connection to heart, beloved community, mutual aid, joy, and compassion can serve as antidotes to oppression, colonization, injustice and violence. 

Brooke Lavelle, Ph.D.  (she/her) is the co-founder of Courage of Care. She holds a Ph.D. in Buddhism and Embodied Cognition, and is committed to ways in which individuals and communities develop cultures of practice that support love, health and liberation. Brooke has consulted to various human rights, education and spiritual organizations, and has experience leading national and international political, educational and climate justice projects. Through her work at Courage and in her neighborhood of Gowanus, Brooklyn, Brooke understands the challenges of trying to build alternatives to the status quo, and remains steadfastly convinced that another way is possible.

Session One

10:15 Eastern | 3:15pm UTC

Setting Relational Containers

with Maytik Avirama & Dani Fontaine

Join us for our first session as we situate the work of building relational culture in these times of global rupture and realignment.

Together, we will explore the relational roots of these intersecting crises and reflect on the need for building and nurturing relational culture within our movements for justice and liberation.

headshot of maytik over floral backgroundMaytik Avirama (she/her) grew up in the Amazon rainforest of the Cauca region of Colombia, where her family has a history of fighting for indigenous rights and land ownership, and developed a passion for achieving environmental and social justice in Latin America. She is interested in the intersection between environmental activism and personal/collective healing, storytelling, alternative economies, feminism, and new technologies.  

Maytik co-created and co-leads the Colombian team of TierrActiva, a youth-led grassroots environmental collective in Latin America. In TA Colombia she has been responsible for project management, logistical planning, financial management and liaising with peasant communities attempting to strengthen rural-urban solidarity economies and networking for local and organic products in the city. She is also a founding member of Rudas Y Salvias, a women’s cooperative entrepreneurship project, where she helped to develop sustainable products that support local economies and empower women. Maytik also leads the podcast series Radio Savia, which presents stories of resistance and healing in order to give visibility to women’s voices from the global south.

headshot of daniela fontaine over floral backgroundDaniela Fontaine (she/her) is an intercultural mediator, facilitator, body therapist and co-director of Radio Savia. Daniela is Mexican and throughout her career she has specialized in accompanying group healing processes and generating spaces for self-care and collective care in activist and human rights defense contexts, especially in Mexico and Barcelona. Between 2018 and 2021 she coordinated the Collective Care area at Calala Fondo de Mujeres in Barcelona, Spain.


Session Two

11:30am Eastern | 4:30pm UTC

Building Relational Power

with Monika L. Son, Ph.D.

Systems of oppression live in our bodies and are reproduced through our cultural practices, influencing how we think about, relate to, and practice power.  As relational facilitators we are aware of the different ways that power shows up in space in our bodies, families, communities, institutions, nature. Together we will explore our relationships to power and how to deepen our sense of power with(in), in service of strengthening relational culture.

Headshot of Monika l Son over floral backgroundMonika L. Son, Ph.D., (she/her/ella) is a Contemplative Practice and Thought Leader, Healer, Scholar, Life Transitions Guide, Embodied Leadership Coach, Trauma-Informed Facilitator, and a student of Soto Zen Buddhism and Chaplaincy. Monika is known for her courage in embracing the edges of discomfort and uncertainty. Guided by heart-spirit, the ancestors, and deep connection to suffering in the world, her scholarship on identity is inspired by a central question: “How do I help others reclaim their whole selves, despite the projections of oppression, social rank and status, lineage and colonization?” Her work reflects a lifelong practice/inquiry that supports reclaiming inner agency through resourcing from a place of presence, relationship, resilience, somatic awareness, and an honoring of lineage/ancestors. In her over twenty- year career as an educator and leader in higher education, Monika has found that contemplative based skills and practices are what seed and ground sustainable transformative change.  Her intention is to bear witness to and support  change leaders who choose to bring fierce loving radical love and compassion to the spaces they impact.  A trained psychologist and somatic facilitator, she is skilled at supporting processes in discomfort and ambiguity around challenging dialogues about race, power, privilege, and oppression..

Session Three

1:00pm Eastern | 5:00pm UTC

Strengthening Our Movements for Justice and Liberation

with Leila McCabe and guests

The work of building relational culture can be challenging, especially when we encounter setbacks, differences in ideology, political losses and relational ruptures. How can we build organizations and movements that are resilient to these challenges and more resistant to fracturing under times of stress? Join us for a panel session with relational movement leaders who are engaging in martial arts practice as a means of building personal and collective strength, community solidarity and a capacity for engaging conflict. These panelists will also address some of the nuance around self and community defense, as well as the ways in which martial arts and other somatic trainings have influenced their relational approach to movement work.

headshot of Leila McCabe over floral background
Leila McCabe (she/her), executive director of the Beloved Communities Network and founder of JoyLabs, is a Mama, artist, strategist, movement maker and builder. She brings over 15 years of experience in community and campus organizing, electoral organizing, movement building and facilitation. She is dedicated to creating spaces for deep and authentic relationships to emerge across diverse constituencies and coalitions.

In 2010, Leila was a founding member of the successful minimum wage campaign in San Jose, California that helped kick-start the national minimum wage movement. In the 2012 election cycle, Leila led a team of 20 people to register 14,000 new voters in Santa Clara County and then went on to be the deputy field director for a progressive mayoral candidate in San Jose, the 10th largest city in the country. She has also worked in many nonprofit organizations partnering with multiple colleges, churches, community members and other organizations developing curriculum and facilitating workshops.

Leila completed a certificate in leadership and social change at DeAnza College and a B.A. in sociology with a concentration in community change from San Jose State University. She is currently studying to complete her certificate as a certified personal trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

In 2021, Leila founded JoyLabs, a space where physical movement meets emotional resilience in a beloved community. JoyLabs trains the resistance through embodied resistance training.

Leila lives in Oakland California with her husband Calvin and son Malik. She serves on the advisory board to In Lak’ech dance academy and to bring balance and healing to her life, Leila trains capoeira, lifts weights and dances.

Session Four

2:30pm Eastern | 6:30pm UTC

On Complexity and Collective Power

with Katrine Bregengaard, Ph.D.

As facilitators, we are constantly navigating tensions that if not tended to, can lead to fracture and divide. In this session we will practice the art of holding complexity and explore what capacities are needed to hold and shift tensions towards collective transformation.

Katrine Bregengaard’s (she/her) work as a facilitator combines her background as a critical human rights educator, organizer and researcher with her work as a contemplative and somatic practitioner. She’s passionate about building meditative and compassion-based approaches that can strengthen our personal and collective capacity to address the complexities of eco-, gender-, class- and racial-justice. She facilitates radical mindfulness groups in Copenhagen and works with Courage of Care Coalition to build bridges between individual and collective healing and systemic transformation.

Session Five

3:45pm Eastern | 7:45pm UTC

Breakout Sessions

We are so excited to offer participants an opportunity to choose their own closing breakout session at the symposium! You’ll be able to choose from sessions including, “Working with Conflict Across Differences and Tensions”, “Strengthening Relationality with the More-than-human World”, “Forward Stance: Building a Strong Justice Movement”; and “From Relationship Denial to Relational Embeddedness: A Decolonial Journey for Educators”.

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