Engaging Across Differences with Natasha Aruliah and Suzanne Hawkes

Skillful Engagement Series

2016, Community Building, Skillful Engagement

Getting the right people ‘to the table’ through effective, truly inclusive stakeholder engagement is one of the biggest challenges facing planners, policy-makers and organizational change-makers today. Without a diversity of perspectives, shaped by people with different experiences and backgrounds, engagement efforts are far less likely to lead to innovative, durable or even relevant solutions.

But the most important stakeholders in a democratic engagement effort are often the most difficult to reach. How can we reduce or eliminate barriers to participation, particularly when those barriers connect to differences such as language, race, immigration status, ability, age, race, class, sexual orientation or gender identity?

In this 3-hour workshop, part of the Skillful Engagement series you'll learn about the key, practical questions to ask at the outset of any skillful engagement initiative to ensure a more inclusive process and outcomes. Facilitators Natasha Aruliahand and Suzanne Hawkes will share several brief case studies and best practices and draw on the wisdom and specific challenges of participants in a rich, highly interactive dialogue. 

Thu, 21 Apr 2016

7:00 p.m. (PT)

SFU Woodward's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
World Art Centre
149 West Hastings, Vancouver

Skillful Engagement Series

Skillful Engagement is a community of practice for engagement practitioners. The series showcases innovative projects and speakers, provides a forum to share knowledge and challenges, and acts as a catalyst to inspire and support the growing engagement sector. This work reflects a shared understanding that improved engagement of communities, organizations and stakeholders leads to better decisions and stronger, more resilient outcomes.

Skillful Engagement is a partnership between the SFU Centre for Dialogue’s Civic Engage Program, SFU Public Square, and SFU’s Dialogue and Civic Engagement Certificate program.


Natasha Aruliah

Natasha Aruliah is a counsellor, facilitator, educator and consultant with over 20 years’ experience working in diversity, equity, social justice and intercultural studies across the UK, Canada, the USA and internationally.  Her work has focused on the areas of education, healthcare, public sector and community services, with individuals and organisations interested in systemic change. It incorporates intercultural competence, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and organisational change, and in particular explores power and privilege. She strives to create spaces for all voices to be brought in and supports dialogue across difference and on topics that are usually avoided, taboo and challenging. Her work included a provincial initiative facilitating community dialogues on race around the province. Natasha also teaches at the Centre for Intercultural Communication at UBC, at the Justice Institute of BC and is a founding member and facilitator for the Inner Activist, a leadership development program aimed specifically at social change agents.

Suzanne Hawkes

Suzanne Hawkes is a facilitator, management consultant and leadership trainer. She has supported stakeholder engagement, dialogue, organizational planning and change initiatives across the US and Canada for over 20 years. She is a principal with Convergence Strategies, based in Vancouver, an associate with InPartnership Consulting, and the sole Canadian trainer with the internationally renowned Rockwood Leadership Institute, both based in the U.S. She is a facilitator with Simon Fraser University’s Public Square. Suzanne entered the facilitation and organizational effectiveness field through an initial focus on multi-stakeholder perspectives in natural resource planning. Suzanne has an Honour’s Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo, and a Master’s degree in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University; both degrees focused on indigenous and community-led resource planning. Her clients include the Planning Institute of BC, Vancouver Coastal Health, Wellstone Action, the City of Surrey, Town of Smithers, Push International Performing Arts Festival, Emily Carr University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Clean Energy Canada, and the David Suzuki Foundation.


Skillful Engagement Series Events

  • Systemic Design and Promising New Forms of Public Engagement

    2018, Skillful Engagement, Community Building

    In this interactive workshop, Ben Weinlick of the Skills Society Action Lab, along with colleagues Aleeya Velji and Sameer Singh of the Edmonton Shift Lab, will share learning and experience around stewarding social innovation labs, and robust community co-design processes. Systemic Design is the engine underlying much of their lab work and essentially blends systems thinking and design thinking to help with tackling complex challenges with community.

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  • Don't Engage the Public... Before You've Answered These Six Questions

    2018, Community Building, Skillful Engagement

    This interactive workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to explore key characteristics of highly effective public engagement. Using case studies, scenario exercises, and industry best practices, the session will provide an opportunity to road-test six strategic questions that can help increase the effectiveness of engagement initiatives and meet the expectations of sponsors and participants.

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  • Cultivating Trust: An X Factor for Effectiveness

    Community Building, Skillful Engagement, 2017

    In this experiential workshop, we’ll explore cultivating trust at three different levels: Self, Group, and System. Along the way, we will tap into the frameworks and wisdom of Trust Theory and Process Oriented Psychology. We’ll also practice Groundwork, Intuitive Writing, and Flirts – three versatile inner work practices for gaining insights and responding well regardless of what life brings us.

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  • Evaluating Engagement: Exploring Principles-Focused Evaluation

    2016, Community Building, Skillful Engagement

    Join us for the 4th installment in the Skillful Engagement Series to learn with world-renowned author, evaluation consultant and thought leader Michael Quinn Patton. Michael will share insights from his most recent work and thinking on Principles-Focused Evaluation, which examines whether principles are clear, meaningful, and actionable, whether they are actually being followed, and whether they are leading to desired results.

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  • Design Thinking for Facilitators

    2016, Community Building, Skillful Engagement

    During the third installment of the Skillful Engagement series – Design Thinking for Facilitators – you’ll learn about design thinking, a human-centred, systems-based approach to problem solving that encourages you to step back and explore a problem space with an open mind and an expanding set of methods.

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  • Engaging Across Differences with Natasha Aruliah and Suzanne Hawkes

    2016, Community Building, Skillful Engagement

    In this 3-hour workshop you'll learn about the key, practical questions to ask at the outset of any skillful engagement initiative to ensure a more inclusive process and outcomes. Facilitators Natasha Aruliahand and Suzanne Hawkes will share several brief case studies and best practices and draw on the wisdom and specific challenges of participants in a rich, highly interactive dialogue.

    Read More →