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About Us

Our Story

In 2013, the global Black Lives Matter movement emerged as a response to the murder of Trayvon Martin in the United States. The movement not only brought attention to the continued inequities in our communities but also brought to the forefront how ill-equipped we are for talking about difference and handling the tension that arises at the intersections of our identities and lived experiences. During the 2016 election, we saw this tension amplified. Post 45 and since, we continue to see the evidence of conflict at the intersection of differences and the amplification of the loud voices fomenting the divisions. The intensity and intractability of these conflicts have served to give us ample evidence of the continued ineffectiveness of the “zero-sum” paradigm.  The Swell Collective was conceived in 2013 as a way to amplify positive sum practice in response. We received our 501 c3 tax exempt status January 20, 2017.

The mission of our organization is to inspire, equip and amplify change-agents representing historically marginalized communities using a positive-sum approach. We inspire change-agents with real world examples of positive sum practice by curating, producing and broadcasting stories of what is going right at the intersection of differences. We equip and coach them with the knowledge and growth opportunities to become mindfully accountable practitioners themselves by conducting trainings both online and in person that teach the skills of positive sum practice, resiliency, and collaborative leadership.  We amplify their work by facilitating robust communities of care and peer mentorship, and by creating intentionally diverse social networks and mindfully fostering them. #goodgrows

We are the swell

Our crew hails from all over the country. Since our inception, The Swell Collective has been a hybrid organization with both IRL and virtual workspaces allowing us the opportunity to connect with value-aligned change agents across geographic barriers. Whether we are a waystation or a long-term destination for crew members, we take seriously the responsibility for each crew member’s wellbeing and professional growth and evolution during their time here.

We ground our workplace culture in wellness, equity and inclusion that nurtures a generative environment for innovation and discovery. #goodgrows


Kit Amreik

The Facilitator's Academy was a very invigorating experience and helped reorient my life when I needed it. I appreciate the manner that Emily as well as the team for facilitating such a wonderful space. It encouraged me to come out of my shell and roar as a lion :]

Kit Amreik
Global Restorative and Transformative Justice Practitioner / 

Nancy Latham

I learned so much form the Facilitators Academy - it wasn't only about facilitation tools (although we learned a lot about those!) - it was really about holding a gentle space for people to bring forward their most authentic selves (even in these awkward zoom spaces). In these days when the world gives us so much reason to feel rage, despair, and grief, holding gentle space is a critical skill. People can feel all those challenging feelings *and* get in touch with sources of joy and hope. Being in the "room" with the main facilitator, Emily Gonzales was a revelation. I felt as if a more communitarian future were being manifested before my eyes.

Nancy Latham
Indivisible East Bay Leadership Team / 

Lou Zweier

The Facilitator Academy is a powerful and insightful training that builds skills, awareness, and internal capacity to guide groups in working across differences and through shared problem solving. It's practical, effective, and so needed in groups and organizations today.

Lou Zweier
Leadership and Conflict Consultant / 

Amira Mustapha

I loved being a part of the inaugural class of the Facilitators Academy. I was able to learn many facilitation techniques. One lesson I am thankful I learned is that I do not have to have all the answers as a facilitator. My job is to help guide the conversation. Learning (and remembering) this makes facilitating a hundred times easier.

Amira Mustapha
Founder and Executive Director / 

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