By R. Chase Dunn
When I began my journey as a facilitator of public dialogue, my first professional facilitation was for the Virginia Robotics and Unmanned Systems Education Summit (VIRTUES)—a collaboration of key Virginia leaders in unmanned systems technology. This summit, which took place in the summer of 2016, was hosted by 4-VA—a collaborative partnership of five Virginia universities.
Learn more about 4-VA’s technology education initiatives here
I trained with ICAD for 2 days before the event. Nervous and excited, I tried to use my knowledge of best communication practices to help guide a conversation between professionals and academics on a topic that I knew nothing about.
More recently, after an additional semester-long course on facilitation, I became an intern for ICAD. In this role, I was tasked with taking the lead on VIRTUES II, a follow up conference to the initial summit. I found myself responsible for designing the processes we would use to stimulate conversations for the entire day, a day which would end with remarks from Terry McAuliffe, the Governor of Virginia. Again, I approached the challenge of taking on this new leadership role with excitement and uncertainty.
The process was designed, the plan was approved, and my team was briefed. I felt ready for the event. That was until the day before, when new schedules and new goals forced us to change almost everything we had prepared.
VIRTUES II took place on February 10th, 2017, with 8 other facilitators helping me throughout the day. It went incredibly well thanks to the flexibility and adaptability of my team. The day ended but the project wasn’t quite finished until I compiled everyone’s notes and developed a final report for 4-VA.
From my 2-day training to the full-length course to becoming an intern for ICAD, I have quickly fallen in love with the process of designing and shaping spaces to help people think about issues together.
More than that, I have come to understand the incredible value of what we do. The organizers of the conference even emailed to say “You and the ICAD team were so integral to VIRTUES II being a success!” Moving forward, I can’t wait for future opportunities to design communicative processes that help people reach their goals.
If you’re interested in the growing world of unmanned systems check out Virginia Robotics