Peer to Peer Learning
Like other leaders ICL works with, Yasemin Unal-Rodriguez of Open Space Institute had interacted with us in the past. When OSI wanted to support a group of staff who volunteered to engage their colleagues in peer-to-peer learning, they enlisted ICL’s support in curating a facilitation training series. These trainings provided the structure and skill building they sought to support their staff’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work.
“ICL came prepared with presentations and the (OSI) facilitation team was absolutely floored. Every single thing they [ICL] brought to the table is actively being used right now. Every person on the team is using guidance from ICL.
“It’s really been amazing to see how well staffers have adapted and utilized what was taught—I’m super impressed with my team. The only downside is we wanted more time to keep talking, learning, and practicing!
“We hit our first goal to help staff become better facilitators and the next step is to continue the training with more staff members. I have immense gratitude for the work that the ICL team is doing. It’s been super helpful, very engaging, and it’s definitely made a difference.”
– Yasemin Unal-Rodriguez, Conservation Capital Associate, Open Space Institute
South Mountain Partnership
The South Mountain Partnership is a regional, landscape-scale conservation network in south-central Pennsylvania. This Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) conservation landscape partnership works toward conserved resources and vibrant communities based on well-planned growth and sustainable economic development. In early 2022, ICL provided the Partnership’s leadership with a series of training about network frameworks, and then facilitated their annual planning retreat in the summer.
“The first time we engaged with ICL in 2022 for a training series, people loved it so much we invited ICL back to facilitate our partnership’s retreat later in the year. People really melt into and respond to the way ICL facilitates – participants are simultaneously relaxed, engaged, and attentive.
“ICL’s methods are different from others I’ve seen – they seek to create introspection so that you can come up with your own answers in your work. Their signature approaches are balanced and allow for putting people at ease while also stimulating them. If you choose to work with ICL, they will help you get clear on what you want, where you are, and where you want to be. Working with ICL can help you transform your leadership skills more than any other training I’ve had access to. I’m confident that our work with ICL is going to do a lot of good for our programming.”
– Katie Hess, Director of South Mountain Partnership
Ohio Environmental Council
With the support of the George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation, ICL has supported over 20 organizations and collaborations working for environmental and climate health in Ohio. In 2020, the Ohio Environmental Council engaged with ICL as a thought partner to increase their coalition building efforts. This engagement led to development and support of the Cleveland environmental policy platform for the mayoral candidates in the 2020 election.
“ICL’s facilitation helped us bring together a diverse group of environmental advocates to put together a policy platform to support a healthier and greener Cleveland. They helped us make sure we were communicating well with partner organizations, meeting the needs of the group, and forming good relationships along the way. After engaging with ICL, we were able to move into 2021 with momentum—conducting expert conversations with Cleveland’s new mayor and his administration about these important policy priorities.”
-Emily Bacha, Vice President of Public Affairs, Ohio Environmental Council
Strategic Network Leadership Training
ICL partnered with three dynamic Pittsburgh-area networks to strengthen the collaborative leadership skills of government leaders, businesses, and nonprofits. These networks of leaders joined forces to make a bigger impact on community and environmental health issues. ICL led a four-month program for 30 leaders that included a series of online workshops, activities, and an in-person workshop.
“ICL did an incredible job of creating interactive, engaging sessions–something all the more impressive given the virtual context. I walked away with important insight on network development that has absolutely changed–for the better–the ways in which our programs operate. They gave all participants important tools to understand and better foster network leadership, from supporting intersecting relationships among leaders, to education about the ‘network mindset,’ and helping us learn how to better foster engagement with network members.”
-Joylette Portlock, Ph.D., Executive Director, Sustainable Pittsburgh
“This is the kind of training leaders in our network crave. The way ICL delivered content was SO good. We learned so much from them with their digital tools…they really helped transform our meetings. Everyone in the training was so pleased and thought it was great. They couldn’t believe two hours could go by so quickly in a Zoom.
– Lydia Morin, Executive Director, CONNECT
“The network leadership training provided by ICL in the Pittsburgh region introduced us to a whole new shared vocabulary and practical tools for building collective movements. The experience was highly interactive and fun, strengthening strategic relationships that will bear fruit for years to come.”
– Scott Wolovich, Executive Director, New Sun Rising
Peer Cohort Learning Support
In 2022, ICL supported the Network for Landscape Conservation’s Catalyst Fund peer learning cohort through a workshop series called Facilitating Collaboration. The series was designed to empower and equip landscape stewardship coordinators across the U.S. with the knowledge, skills, and tools to facilitate and support collaboration virtually.
“What drew us to working with ICL was their grounding in collaborating in the conservation sphere. They are steeped in the nuances of collaboration, which added depth to the workshop and made it especially effective. ICL brought forth a lot of virtual tools that our grantees really valued being introduced to and were able to explore these tools in context of collaborative theory, concepts, and principles to create a really powerful approach. ICL’s depth of understanding really shines through.
So many of the challenges that conservation is increasingly called to address and wrestle with transcend boundaries and operate within complex systems that exceed the capacity of any organization to effectively address on their own. There’s a huge thirst for skills, knowledge, insight, and best practices around how to navigate collaboration in conservation. ICL is at the forefront of being a resource here, and their work is more relevant with each passing day. I have a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude for being exposed to such expertise in this space – I think the role that ICL is playing to support development of these skills represents a watershed moment that’s both powerful and exciting.”
-Jon Peterson, Catalyst Fund Manager, Network for Landscape Conservation
Developing Leadership for Collaboration
Each November since 2019, ICL has supported the Highstead Foundation‘s staff in planning and facilitating the Regional Conservation Partnership Network’s Gathering. This year’s Gathering was designed for participants to explore how to build relationships and strategies to address issues of land justice and climate resilience. In 2022, Highstead also approached ICL to design two online workshop series focused on skills for leaders to apply network frameworks and enhanced leadership facilitation capacities.
“ICL understands how leaders need support. Their programs are so impactful, and they will help you articulate goals you may not have even known you had. Everyone I’ve worked with at ICL is so wonderful and patient, and they always find the time to genuinely connect with us.”
There is some very necessary and critical work ICL helps make happen that supports us in reaching our goals for meetings and partnership building. They use a deep understanding of adult learning to integrate simple processes seamlessly so that it doesn’t feel like a curriculum– it’s just part of their skill and expertise which has been huge. Some of ICL’s approaches have worked so well for us and I’ve started using them for every single event we’ve done since engaging with them.
I would encourage you to trust ICL’s process even if it feels unfamiliar or goes against how you’ve been doing meetings or workshops. There is a magic that happens and if you open yourself up to that it will change how you think about your work and how you approach it.”
-Katie Blake, Conservationist at Highstead Foundation
Delaware River Watershed Initiative
Since 2014, ICL has helped develop and strengthen a network of more than 50 organizations working together on one of North America’s most ambitious water protection initiatives.
Launched by the William Penn Foundation, the Delaware River Watershed Initiative is driven by an intricate web of relationships designed to address a complex problem. In order to navigate all that complexity, the foundation recruited and funded ICL to help align and coordinate efforts to work together to restore impaired streams, protect forests that are the source of clean water and monitor and measure the impact of their collective work.
In Spring of 2023, with funding support from the William Penn Foundation, ICL is offering multiple opportunities to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in the Delaware River Watershed by supporting a small group of organizations to work with Lacy Consulting Services. Through in-depth workshops focused on creating actionable plans, cohorts from each organization will learn to build and sustain trust with local community members and organizations or to integrate DEIJ into their conservation planning efforts. ICL is also facilitating a cohort of professionals of color in the watershed to support their skill, career and network development. Collectively, these efforts help organizations and leaders to connect with valuable expertise and network building opportunities.
Strategic Planning for Collaboration
ICL supported the Circuit Trails to complete a strategic plan in 2022. Circuit Trails is working to expand the trail network, add miles, and make it more accessible and inclusive.
“Before you invest a lot of time and energy into participation in a coalition, collaboration, or network, it’s important to understand how these different groups work. ICL not only brings knowledge of the different types of groups, but they also really know environmental, open space, and trails organizations – they speak the language we speak which is really very helpful. Their manner of acting like a partner in your work is one of their greatest strengths. ICL really knows in their bones who and what we are, and their knowledge of the initiative is impressive. ICL respects your time – it’s always a good use of time talking to them, and I really value that.”
“Part of what I like about working with ICL is that I’m building capacity, and I’m learning a different way of looking at things – it’s this learning and change in perspective that I really find gratifying.”
-Eleanor Horne, Lawrence Hopewell Trail Co-President
In 2021, ICL supported the strategic development of two urban wilderness coalitions. These unique networks exist at the intersection of a variety of sectors with a shared goal of creating more resilient and healthy urban areas for everyone.
“Chicago Wilderness needed support to move forward with a Green Vision that unified our seven larger goals. ICL helped us keep focus and supported our team in strategy development for our planning efforts and communicating our deliverables to our funders. ICL is well known in the conservation community so they brought credibility to the process that would have taken much longer without them present.”
-Elizabeth Kessler, Chair, Chicago Wilderness