Category Archives: Community Outreach

We believe that with success comes the responsibility to give back. Check out how we give back to the community that sustains us.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign, each October to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”  We are proud to support this campaign. Learn more at

Company of Experts had the distinct honor of working with Disability Rights Nebraska for the past few years.  Working with DRN has been a personal highlight for us. An outstanding organization who have a deep love and commitment to creating a just and equal community. We have so much to celebrate as our communities have changed for the good over the years in structure, processes and culture through awareness.  This is from the DRN Website:

Our vision for the future is clear: All people with mental or physical disabilities are valued in their community, have control over their own lives, and have the necessary resources to live a life of quality.

That vision is captured in three words: dignity, equality and empowerment.

We start the first year of our new Five Year Strategic Plan this coming year. Our strategic plan was developed using a process called Appreciative Inquiry.

Appreciative Inquiry grounded by: 1) What you see, you find more of – the more positive and inspiring the strategy development, the more innovative ideas will be created and possibilities that can be explored, and 2) People commit to what they help create – the more participative the plan development, the more committed people will be to the success of the plan.

The process was focused on what our organization would look like if it were designed to maximize and preserve the themes lifted from those we interviewed – our internal partners and external allies.

Six priority areas emerged that captured the possibility of hope that was discovered from the interviews. These priority areas will be the framework for our efforts during the next five years:

  • Protecting and Advocating for Human and Legal Rights

Seeking justice for people with disabilities; ensuring safety, personal integrity, self-determination

  • Leading Change within the Community

Working with people with disabilities to create meaningful, authentic inclusion in communities of choice

  • Empowering Others to Achieve Full Participation

Always mindful of the motto: “Nothing about us without us”; really listening to others, acting with compassion, and building trusting relationships; supporting people’s hopes, dreams and things not yet imagine

  • Building Relationships in the Community

Maintaining our integrity through respectful, honest communication and teamwork; valuing connections with community partners

  • Valuing and Appreciating Diversity

Respecting the strength of difference and diversity Valuing the energy, creativity and enthusiasm others bring to achieving our shared vision

  • Cultivating Opportunities

Engaging in potent, relevant, effective, and expansive advocacy

 From the DRN website:

Let’s Generate Positive Dialogue for 2012 Election

Words Create Worlds® (WCW)
A series of short conversations leading up to the U.S. election in 2012 meant to enliven generative dialogue with a positive intent.

This past week, during a training, a request was made of us – please send a message out to encourage people to write to the White House, to politicians, as well as to others who are interested in constructive, positive dialogue about the future of the U.S!

These four days were devoted to our internationally recognized Four Day Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training©, an introduction to the Power of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and specifically to the Power of the Principles of AI — learning about the benefits of Positive focus and Positive language.

These are not trainings focused on politics; rather trainings for leaders and others who are seeking methods and models for organizational change and positive dialogue. Change that engages, seeks out the best in people and organizations, is collaborative in nature and focuses on the good in all of us. The people who attend this training want to feel good about their work; to work in organizations that they share values with; and to be in an organization that strives to do good for the world community.

This request for us to become leaders in the national dialogue is not new to this training. We are a small group of committed people seeking change and if we look to the words of Margaret Mead, we know that this is where change begins.  We are reaching out to our community now as we see the political rhetoric reach new levels of negativity.  Please write to the White House, President Obama, Governor Romney and any and all of your legislative leaders – in Washington D.C. or at the State Level. Encourage them to change the tone.

Encourage our leaders to adopt a tone of hope, possibility, and encouragement. Encourage them to share with us their vision for our country, for our future. We need no less from our current and our future leaders. For wisdom, insight and guidance, search out the words of past leaders who have inspired our nation in times of challenge and opportunity.

There is sufficient data and research supporting the benefits of positive conversation. As people we thrive when our positive to negative words are at a 3:1 ratio (Positivity Ratio). We each want to thrive and we want our country to thrive. We need leaders who can lift the conversation, take decisive action toward a future that we can visualize and live into.

We recommend a book for each of us:  We Can All Do Better, by Bill Bradley.  It is well written, honest and understandable. Bradley sets the stage that “We The People” must engage in dialogue that is for the best for the Country. To set the tone.  “People see Washington irrevocably divided into two warring camps that care more about political advantage than about the Country” (Bradley 18).

The need for positive dialogue has reached a crucial level; we cannot make the substantive changes necessary unless we do. Join us for more positive dialogue by sending a letter or email to President Obama and Governor Romney. Don’t stop there. Send a letter or email to each of your representatives at the Local, State and Federal level. We each, no matter our political affiliation, have visions and dreams for the future. What do we really want? Like athletes at the Olympics last month, each of us can look at the greater good, focus on what we want more of. What would that look like if it were happening all of the time, right here, right now?

Email is a good way to start; writing a letter is an excellent way to really get their attention! Here is some contact information for:

Our intention is to spark positive dialogue. To be part of the dialogue about Appreciative Inquiry, join us on our LinkedIn group – Discovering Appreciative Inquiry. We also invite you to visit our website at or join us on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter #WCW2012.

Kathy Becker is the President of the Company of Experts, Inc. — a consulting firm serving schools, colleges and universities, businesses, corporations and non-profits moving them from deficit models of planning and thinking to engagement, empowerment and collaboration. Leading others to ask “What might be possible if community and organization members were fully engaged and using their strengths to collectively achieve shared visions?” Kathy has initiated new programs and services to meet the challenges of the new economy. Read Full Bio>>

Thousands Develop Bibb County’s Strategic Plan

On Monday, October 10, the Bibb County School District hosted its second Strategic Planning session involving more than 4,000 people, including parents and community members and every employee.

“We must believe in our children and in ourselves if we are going to be successful,” says Superintendent Dr. Romain Dallemand. “We must think outside of the box to generate the revolutionary ideas that will help us move our community forward and make sure our children are successful. We must think radically and consider things like year-round school and school choice for the entire District, and our children must be fluent in English, Mandarin Chinese, and technology.

Working with the Center for Appreciative Inquiry, large and small group sessions were used to facilitate discussions about the future of the District and community, as well as to begin identifying the goals, ideas, and strategies that will define “The Macon Miracle.” After the first session on September 19, feedback about areas that could be improved in the District was used to identify commonalities and themes. At the second session on October 10, the community attended themed breakout sessions to generate ideas about how the District could improve student achievement.

“Our District and community must decide where it wants to be 20 and 50 years from now, and that journey begins with building a new education system that meets the need of all children,” says Dr. Dallemand. “The new system will be built with the engagement of our entire community because that is the only way in which it will be successful.”

This process is a new method by which a school district defines its work and goals. Instead of a small group of educators and community leaders developing a plan that is handed down to the employees, Dr. Dallemand invited this larger group to join the process. Additionally, a survey was made available to every middle and high school student to provide similar feedback since they are at the core of the District; the survey was also available to parents and community members that did not attend the sessions.

To view complete information about “The Macon Miracle,” Bibb County’s Strategic Plan. Featured on the page are stories, videos, photographs, and media coverage from these momentous events.

To stay connected with the District throughout “The Macon Miracle,” check the site above regularly and visit Dr. Dallemand’s blog and our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.

Written By: Chris Floore, Director of Public Relationships for Bibb County School District
Chris invites you to contact him if you wish to learn more about the changes being made in Bibb County. You can email him at or call 478-390-8258.

COE Celebrates Earth Day 2011

Heather Henson (left) and Melissa Robaina (right) are all smiles as they partake in a local cleanup in celebration of Earth Day

On April 22, 1970 over 20 million Americans rallied in the streets, parks, schools, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. According to, “Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values”. That day in 1970 is one to remember. As a result of everyone’s efforts, Congress enacted the United States Environmental Protection Agency in addition to passing the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts.

Company of Experts got down and dirty in celebration of Earth Day. The Company’s Social Marketing Director, Melissa Robaina, along with their student intern, Heather Henson, joined Get Outdoors Nevada – an interagency volunteer program – in its fight to preserve the desert ecosystem. Together they spent hours picking up trash in a remote area east of the Las Vegas strip that is often used for illegal dumping. More than thirty volunteers from around the Las Vegas area joined the cleanup efforts in order to restore the desert landscape to its beautiful, well-kept state.

When asked to reflect about the cleanup event Melissa replied, “This experience has been humbling and has ignited my desire to find additional ways to ‘go green’. I am very thankful to work for the Company of Experts’ whose principles not only value the people we serve, but the world for which sustains us all.” Heather’s response was brief and to the point, “Life is a garden, dig it.”