Conflict Transformation

The past years of global upheaval have brought stress into many organizations and I see groups grappling with balancing personal and professional lives, what true racial equity means in the org, aligning meaningful workplace culture, and so much more. There are many ways to explore these tensions!
“Your personality, love, kindness, and patience cultivated a lot of trust which led to openness and vulnerability in the group.”
-Community member in conflict resolution process

Conflict transformation is an area I am growing into and I do not consider myself an “expert.” That said, I have found myself mediating conflict between individuals and whole groups at organizations for years.  For example, I have facilitated sets of conversations for a neighborhood in conflict over a houseless village, a debrief of a complex traumatic event in a community and a multi-month process for an organization with deep tension about their direction.

Between my decades in collective organizations and living in a 20-person intentional community, I have practiced an enormous amount of healthy communication, working through tensions, giving and receiving feedback and exploring differences. In January 2023 I built on this foundation with a certification course in Equity-Informed Mediation through Resolutions Northwest. In 2019 I took a class in Trauma Aware Conflict Transformation with rain crowe. I am excited to develop these skills and gain experience.

I will be honest in determining if I am a good fit for your needs in the realm of conflict exploration, transformation and mediation. I am also connected with other mediators who I can refer you to or work with.

Drawing that Jenny made to illustrate the conflict within a group and the path through. On the left is a basket of colorful yarn, which is seen unraveling with an assortment of words depicting specific aspects of the group's conflict. In the middle are four themes: History of Hurt, Equity, Communication, Power and Autonomy. On the right the threads clear up with steps the group can take. And to the furthest right the threads knit themselves into a sweater of the group's future. It says Weaving TRUST and RELATIONSHIP transforms threads of conflict into our new structure.
I made this drawing to help a group understand the causes of their conflict, themes and possible solutions.

St. Johns Neighborhood Houseless Village Conversations
I particularly enjoy working with conflict among a diverse set of stakeholders. Here is feedback I got after facilitating conversations in a neighborhood struggling to integrate a houseless people village into an empty lot (for photos and stories of the sessions, see my Meeting Design and Facilitation page):

“I learned there is a lot of goodwill in this group and I will stay with this process.”
“Feels good to feel safe to express concerns.”
“It’s refreshing to see where our commonalities are even though we have big differences.”
“The problems are enormous but I now see the solutions are here.”
“With 15 groups here, it’s pretty unique that we can collaborate without agreeing on everything.”
“I have more empathy for the fears and concerns that I didn’t want to hear.”
“These conversations will carry us through other hard discussions in our future.”

-Members of the St. Johns neighborhood

Venn Academy Masking Policy Parent Conversations
I facilitated a series of 3 in-person meetings for the parent community of Venn School, an independent elementary school in SE Portland. They called me in because of active conflicts among parents regarding their masking policy; parents had very different needs for their children, and didn’t have the communication or relationship baseline for a collaborative conversation.

“Our school parent community was fractured around what our masking policy should be for the 2023-24 school, and we looked for a facilitator to help us work through the issues. Luckily, we found Jenny Leis! From the very start of the process, Jenny was collaborative, insightful, positive, and most of all, really listened to understand our community and situation. We were unsure how this would work out, but with skillful guidance, targeted activities, and kind honesty, Jenny helped us come to a resolution that was beyond what we expected. Not only did we bring our community closer, and ignite a desire to build a strong parent body again, but we wrote our sick/mask policy during the sessions! It was remarkable. Jenny used humor, personal stories, kind and honest communication, organization, and flexibility to the fluid and changing atmosphere to guide us to our goals. We had many comments from our parents about how effective the sessions were, and specifically about how good Jenny was. We cannot recommend Jenny highly enough.”

-John Warton, Venn Executive Director