Welcome to the IAF Chicago Chapter! 


The purpose of the IAF Chicago Chapter is to foster the growth of the field of facilitation and all related practitioners, processes, technology, and research, by providing a mechanism for networking, exchanging, and sharing best facilitation practices.



The purposes of the IAF Chicago Chapter is to support and further, to the best of IAF Chicago's ability, the purposes of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), to include:

  • Giving credibility to and furthering the work of the field of professional group facilitation.
  • Providing a network to foster interchange between practitioners of facilitation.
  • Developing appropriate opportunities, methodologies, models, tools and modes that support the practice of exemplary participatory facilitation.
  • Promoting international support and interchange among practitioners of facilitation.

For more information, please contact:



Every other month the IAF Chicago Chapter holds conversations discussing a variety of subjects related to facilitation.  Each conversation is hosted live at multiple locations in the Chicago area.



Topic: IAF Learning Journey - Using Technology for Maximum Facilitation Success

Facilitated by: Dan Heck

Eventbrite link: RSVP


IAF-Chicago Chapter and Bluescape are excited to host this month's chapter meeting at the Haworth showroom in the Merchandise Mart.
The technology that Stefan Schurman of Bluescape will showcase will drop your jaw (see http://www.bluescape.com). AND all of us that have used technology with our facilitation know it can end up being a larger obstacle than a value. We will have a chance to engage and interact with the Bluescape visual collaboration platform to explore, in specific terms, what value we need from technology. Dan Heck will facilitate an exploration into technical problems, outcomes and product objectives inspired by an innovative process from Advanced Industrial Marketing called Blueprinting (http://www.newproductblueprinting.com).

People interested in facilitation, collaboration, conflict management, negotiation, ethics, leadership, team building, etc.; including, Facilitators, Change Managers, Organization Development Consultants, H/R Managers, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Business Architects, Data Analysts, Managers, Lawyers, and anyone who uses facilitation skills in their work. We are looking to network with broad range of people so that we may learn from each other 

Come join use for food, networking, program, and conversation to end 2014 with a terrific, high-tech/high touch evening.




with Izzy Gesell


Topic: IAF Learning Journey - Instructional Moments (TM)

Facilitated by: Izzy Gesell

Eventbrite link: RSVP

In any training or group session there are moments of opportunity when participants are able to look beneath their surface behavior and into the underlying beliefs that spark that behavior. Often these moments come when least expected. Improv theater activities make these "instructional moments" very evident because the way people play these games is very much like the way they respond to real-­-life situations with similar emotional content.  
By staying present and unconcerned about outcome, you are aware when these opportunities show themselves as emotional responses. Then you are able, without judgment or correction, to invite the participant to pause, observe the beliefs that spark the emotion, and bring them to consciousness for dialogue and discussion.
This approach forces you, the facilitator, to remain focused, authentic and as involved as you ask your participants to be. This leads to your becoming more confident, spontaneous and effective.


About the Presenter - Izzy Gesell            

Izzy was one of the first to use Improv Theater concepts as a tool for personal and organizational learning. He is the author of Playing Along: Group Learning Activities Borrowed From Improvisation Theater, a co-­-author of both Cancer & the Healing Power of Play, and Humor Me: America's Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter, and a contributor of a chapter on improvisation as a facilitation tool in the IAF Group Facilitators Handbook.
He has presented at numerous conferences and coaches people on ways to increase comfort and command with experiential activities and humor. Raised in Brooklyn NY, he has a BA in Psychology, an MS in Education and a P.... that's 1/3 of a PhD.






Topic: IAF Learning Journey

Facilitated by: Gary Rush, Paul Collins, Joe DeMarco

Eventbrite link: RSVP

Please join us for an exciting one-day interactive session sharing how Innovation and Creativity can be achieved through Facilitated Collaboration.  This event will be held at the Lawndale Christian Health Center.  Lunch will be provided.  

Join us to hear Gary Rush, Paul Collins, and Joe DeMarco share how facilitation and collaboration enable innovation and creativity.  

The program and schedule are attached (click on the link below).  We'd love to see everyone attend.




Topic: Facilitating Introverts: Eliciting the Gifts of the Quiet Ones

Facilitated by: Margaret Sullivan and Janice Thomson

Eventbrite link: RSVP

Facilitating Introverts (pdf)


Introversion is cool...but group work is not, at least according to author Susan Cain. In her 2012 bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, she celebrates the gifts of introversion and their benefits to society. She pleads for workplaces and schools to provide more solitude. Group work, she claims, stifles the most insightful and creative thinkers and inflates the influence of less thoughtful extroverts. It excludes vital perspectives and results in mediocre outcomes

As facilitators and believers in the power of group process, we’ve taken her critiques to heart. Does she make valid points? Has our failure to consciously include introverts resulted in poor meeting outcomes and failed projects? How might we design meetings and workshops to better include introverts? What special needs do they have? Which techniques work best?

We aren’t experts. We’re two facilitators with questions. We invite you to join us on our learning journey as we together explore how we might all more effectively include introverts in group work -- without alienating or suppressing the gifts of extroverts. We’ve designed a short workshop format we believe will put introverts at ease. But we’re counting on extroverts to join us as well.

To maximize mutual learning, we’ve limited the number of participants. To secure your place, please register by May 13, 2014.

We also ask that you prepare for this workshop by watching Susan Cain's TED talk "The Power of Introverts".

Margaret Sullivan is an independent consultant who specializes in helping individuals, groups, and organizations identify, clarify, design, and implement an effective, sustainable path forward.

Janice Thomson is a facilitator, researcher, writer, and consultant specialized in public engagement. She blogs about facilitation and active citizenship at www.janicethomson.net.

The "Thinkubator Innovation Center"

312 N. May Street, Suite 6D, Chicago, IL
Thinkubator is a 15 to 20 Minute walk Or a short cab ride from the Ogilvie Transporation Center or the CTA Green Line Station at Clinton and Lake.
The facility is located between Kinzie Street and Fulton Street about 7 blocks west of the Kennedy Expressway and east of Ogden Avenue. Street parking is available.





Topic: To demonstrate and engage attendees in ethnic dance works with team building, collaboration, and facilitation.

Facilitated by: Paul Collins



Ethnic Dance Chicago will be hosting a special welcoming dance for members of the IAF-Chicago Chapter on Friday, March 21, 2104 at the Chicago Latvian Community Center, 4146 N Elston Ave in Chicago, IL 60618. – A Facilitator’s MeetUp Dance!

The Latvian Center is on the NW Corner of Elston Ave (NW Diagonal) & Hamlin Ave (3800W). The entrance is on Hamlin.  It is a short walk or bus ride from the CTA Blue Line Station on Irving Park and Pulaski.

Join us at this Friday evening dance where we offer dance lessons early, followed by an open dance party until midnight.  You’ll learn some new moves (and maybe old ones too).  Dance types include: Kolo, Drmes, Horo, Mazurka, Waltz, Polka, Oro, Bar, Kujawiak, Paidoushko, Hora, Kopanitza, Rachentza, Briul, Sirba, Hambo, Polska, and Bourree.  You’ll also see some American Square and Contra Dancing.

Stick around for the party (after the dance lessons) where you'll be exposed to many dances you can learn by doing. Teaching for inexperienced dancers is early.

Just get in between experienced dancers and/or follow behind the line. Be careful about joining the end of a line as you may end up leading the line if it line changes direction.

Please bring light food and beverages (BYOB) to share.  There is a full service grocery store (Tony’s Supermarket) across the street from the Latvian Center if you’re pressed for time and intend to bring something to share.

If there is any Chapter business to transact, IAFCC can meet early at the Latvian Center at 7:00pm. There is street parking on Elston, Hamlin and Avers.  Some parking spots are metered and some are not.






Topic: To understand how facilitation and art blend in team building

Facilitated by: Lillstreet Presentation - Lillstreet Ignite

Lillstreet Map

Since 1975, Lillstreet Art Center has served Chicago communities with opportunities for personal and professional growth through the arts.  In an expansive, three-level facility at 4401 North Ravenswood Avenue and the recently opened Lillstreet Loft steps away at 4437 North Ravenswood Avenue, Lillstreet offers arts education for all ages and skill levels, a gallery, an artist residency program, studio space, and a community outreach program.

Lillstreet Ignite, a program of Lillstreet Art Center, provides local and national businesses and professionals an opportunity to use art as a tool for inquiry.  We believe bringing art and business together fosters collaboration, increases understanding among people, and creates a culture of creativity.
Each arts-based team building activity is designed for first-time artists and lead by a professional teaching artist who expertly guides participants through the creative process.




Topic: Using Indirect Questioning Methods to Facilitate Difficult Discussions

Facilitated by: David DeWitt

Meeting Agenda

Session Details:
Please join the IAF Chicago Chapter as David DeWitt presents Using Indirect Questioning Methods to Facilitate

Difficult Discussions.

When conducting group interviews or facilitated workshops it is helpful to be able to crosscheck the information provided for accuracy, completeness, and value to the team’s goals. It is also helpful to take steps to avoid eliciting “cookie cutter” or “party line” responses.

But, crosschecking statements made during a group discussion has a drawback: Asking direct questions about the accuracy of their remarks can be threatening or confusing, even to willing participants. Just asking someone to elaborate their ideas further can put them on the spot, make them defensive, and cause resistance to the overall process of the group discussion.

Moreover, as facilitators we often need to push our participants beyond the “party line” or academic answers. This can be difficult due to the usual participant fear of providing the wrong answer or not believing that their own observations or suggestions can matter.

In this interactive discussion participants will explore the use of indirect questioning and discussion techniques.


  1. Explore the Pros and Cons of using direct versus indirect techniques for facilitating group work.

  2. Review the use of some indirect group process techniques.

  3. Learn a few basic ways to transform direct questions into indirect questions to remove the threat of the direct


Practice use of a brainwriting technique to develop a problem statement indirectly based on group input during a workshop of focus group. 




Topic: "Participative Action Research" & "Appreciative Inquiry"

Facilitated by: Dan Heck

Meeting Agenda


Session Details:

Please join the IAF Chicago Chapter as Dan Heck presents an overview, as an experienced facilitator but a novice user, of PAR and AI (see below). Some of you attending may be well versed in these disciplines and some may not be. Everyone come, participate, and expect to grow! All are welcome!

  • “Participative Action Research” [PAR] is an approach to inquiry that involves the very community or group that will benefit by acting on the insights obtained.

  • “Appreciative Inquiry” [AI] compliments PAR as an exploratory approach that establishes a positive context while searching for subjective and objective data from which to draw learning and act to improve the community.

    It is NOT simple, it is not prescriptive and outcomes do NOT satisfy traditional scientific expectations! But both disciplines require the researcher to engage with people and that demands effective facilitation.

    Venue Details:

    The "Thinkubator Innovation Center" at 312 N. May Street, Suite 6D, Chicago, IL 60607. The Thinkubator is a 15 to 20 minute walk or a $7 Cab ride from the Ogilvie Transportation Center (Metra), Union Station (Metra, Amtrak) or the CTA Green Line Station at Clinton & Lake.

    The facility is located between Kinzie Street and Fulton Street, about 7 blocks West of the Kennedy Expressway and East of Ogden Avenue. Street parking is available – No Meters – The earlier you arrive the better. Be sure to check for street cleaning postings.

    Valet Parking Service is available in the area. 



Illinois Art of Hosting and the International Association of FacilitatorsChicago Chapter warmly invite you to a convivial evening of storytelling, group sharing, and collective learning. You will experience a powerful tool for learning from stories. Together we will identify what helps dialogue and deliberation projects in Chicago to succeed.  Come.  Have fun.  Learn.  Be inspired!

Collective Story Harvest is a method developed by Art of Hosting practitioners that combines individual storytelling and small group process to collectively identify insights and learning.

Dialogue & Deliberation includes various small group conversational processes that allow people to share their perspective and experiences with one another, as well as examine options and trade-offs to make better decisions.  For more information about D&D in Chicago see: http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/ipce/interior/D&D.html

Illinois Art of Hosting is part of a global community of change-makers dedicated to harnessing the collective wisdom and self-organizing capacities of groups.

International Association of Facilitators (IAF), Chicago Chapter fosters the growth of the field of facilitation and all related practitioners, processes, technology, and research, by providing a mechanism for networking, exchanging, and sharing best facilitation practices.
Chicago Dialogue & Deliberation Community of Practice sponsors regular networking and learning events and hosts a listserv.



Topic: Introduction to FoCuSeDTM Presence

Facilitated by: Sean Rush

Meeting Agenda

Introduction to FoCuSeDTM Presence

Learn how stage presence and enhanced presentation skills can make you a better Facilitator. Practice techniques to help feel more confident in front of a group and enhance your facilitation.

Sean Rush will introduce FoCuSeDTM Presence - this should be exciting as he is applying his experience on stage to help Facilitators feel more comfortable in front of a group of people.

Sean Rush - Facilitator/Trainer

Sean has a Bachelor's of Music in Piano Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts/Roosevelt University. He has performed at various concerts, including his debut at Teatro Tapia in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a performer, Sean brings his stage presence skills to present "Introduction to FoCuSeDTM Presence".

IAF Chicago Chapter Conversation - FoCuSeD Presence

IAF Chicago Chapter Conversation - FoCuSeDTM Presence



Topic: The Share and New Dialogue Concept

Facilitated by: Matt Sweeney

Meeting Agenda

The PCP Method for Dialogue Across Ideological differences

The Public Conversations Project (PCP) method is used to bring together people of very opposing values and allow them to communicate and understand where each person is coming from in order to create human relationships and understandings. The PCP method, which has its roots in family systems therapy, was first used in a series of now famous dialogues between anti-abortion and pro-choice activists in Boston. For a brief description, see this article from Participedia.

Matt Sweeney, who used this approach in the recent “Beyond Polarization Dialogues” for Milwaukee’s Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion, will briefly explain the PCP method and then demonstrate its use with an actual dialogue on the controversial topic of immigration.

If you are an experienced facilitator and would like to be part of the volunteer facilitation team for this event, please let Gary Rush know before February 14. You will receive briefing materials and guidance in how to facilitate a PCP dialogue.

Matt Sweeney

Matt Sweeney is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Matt has worked in community education and civic engagement throughout the Americas, with organizations such as Citizen Schools, SER, UNESCO, Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion, and Citizen Bridges International. Awarded a 2009-2011 Rotary World Peace Fellowship, he recently earned a Master of Arts in International Relations at La Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Matt lives in Chicago, where his work supports public dialogue and decision-making processes, and citizens' diplomacy. 

IAF Chapter Conversation - PCP Conversation Method

IAF Chicago Chapter Conversation - PCP Method



Topic: Group Interaction Workshop

Facilitated by: Paul Collins (LinkedIn Profile)

Meeting Agenda

Paul Collins (Jordan-Webbconducted a Group Interaction Workshop that is critical for surfacing key assumptions and behaviors that exist within individuals, within groups and within all levels of organizations.  Used early in a session (or retreat), this activity demonstrated how such assumptions and behaviors affect our abilities to identify and move towards a win-win outcome.  The exercise required participants to work in sub-groups towards achieving a well-defined goal.

Participants benefited from this exercise as its scope covered a wide variety of functional and developmental areas including (but not limited to) decision-making, collaboration, leadership, strategy, performance, ethics, communication and cultural awareness.  A facilitated debriefing on observations and lessons learned followed the exercise.  Participants received an information packet with instructions on how to conduct the exercise and a discussion guide for how to conduct the debriefing.



Meeting Notes and Video will be available shortly

Group Facilitation Symposium, Fall 2012

Jointly Sponsored by the DePaul University Continuing and Professional Education and
International Association of Facilitators, IAF – Chicago Chapter

“Critical Fundamentals Serving a Connected Workforce”

Management guru, Peter Drucker said it best of our working environment: "In the industrial age, the worker served the organization. In the knowledge era, the organization serves the worker." Our facilitators' community has a major challenge ahead to establish the importance, value and contribution that the skills of facilitation practitioners bring to our highly connected world. Drucker would probably affirm any practice dedicated to listening to individuals AND orchestrating those talents into high performing synergy. That is what we do! This one day symposium will contribute in a small way to improving your skills, expanding your vision of what our critical mission is and exposing you to a radical form of group collaboration.


Jim Troxel, M.A.

Gary Rush, CPF

Friday, November 9, 2012
DePaul University Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Building
14 East Jackson, Room 806
8:30am to 6:00pm
Registration Fee: $60 (0.8 CEU’s)



Topic: Collaboration - what is it, how is it measured, and how do you know it happens?

Meeting Agenda

Our second chapter conversation was be facilitated by Gary Rush, IAF CPF and graphically recorded by Brandy Agerbeck.  The meeting was geared towards professional development.  The remaining minutes were be spent finalizing our plans for the November 9th Facilitator Symposium with DePaul.



On August 24, 2012 Dan Heck presented on our first successful Chapter Conversation hosted by the Institute of Cultural Affairs in Chicago.  Click below for a summary of what happened!

August Conversation

© 2012 IAF Chicago Chapter
IAF Chicago Chapter