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Essentials for Facilitators of DEI Trainings

Washington state agencies have many talented professionals facilitating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) trainings for their staff. These facilitators meet employees where they are, calling on them to learn, grow, and actively build more respectful and inclusive workplaces.

Three people have a thoughtful discussion.

Effective facilitation is a result of skills developed with study and practice. There are also facilitator characteristics that are crucial for transformative learning experiences, such as self-awareness and curiosity. These same characteristics are also critical for facilitators leading DEI learning.

Ione Turner and Larry Delgado, two of our DEI learning delivery and design professionals, share the following insights for developing these characteristics.

  • Self-awareness: Take time daily to check in with yourself and others about your thoughts and feelings. Have self-care practices at the ready (meditation, breathing, uplifting books, etc.) to calm and keep you in the present. This is especially important during a triggering moment. Self-awareness means self-assessing to understand how our own thoughts or experiences impact the learning experience. This includes examining our own biases.
  • Compassion: Forgive yourself for not always “getting it right.” Mistakes are part of the DEI learning process, and we can learn from missteps. Accept that others will make mistakes too. Be genuine when you err.
  • Curiosity and open-mindedness: Questioning your own thinking and giving up the need to be right can go a long way to promote learning. Being open to others’ lived experiences can reveal biased thinking, opinions, or behaviors based on inaccurate information. Approach discussions with a sense of wonder to reveal varying perspectives.
  • Empathy: Develop the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

When facilitating DEI trainings, the following practices are essential for both you and your learners:

  • Establish “brave spaces.” These are learning environments where learners can share and know they will be supported without shame or blame.
  • Value the life-long learning journey for both learners and facilitators. Developing DEI competence is not a “one and done” for anyone.
  • Engage in self-care. This work is exhausting for learners and facilitators. Healthy facilitation requires a continuing commitment to your own well-being.

DEI work is delicate and filled with nuance. Facilitators need specific knowledge, practices, and qualities to guide learners in developing DEI competence. Ione and Larry’s insights highlight these attributes, as well as the courage required to be on the journey themselves while also serving as an effective guide for learners on this journey.

Larry Delgado and Ione Turner.
Larry Delgado & Ione Turner

Larry Delgado, DEI Learning Delivery & Design Lead, retired from the Army as Director of Training and Development for HR Operations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2017 and has most recently served as Learning and Development Administrator with Pierce Transit in Lakewood, WA. He has a significant track record of investing in employees, delivering training grounded in emotional intelligence to diverse audiences, and championing real-world solutions to removing systemic barriers and advancing practices that promote a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace.

Ione (pronounced ‘eye-own’) Turner, DEI Learning Delivery & Design Specialist, has over 15 years of public service experience, teaching, coaching and leading projects and people through change and transformation. She holds a MA in Applied Behavioral Science, with concentration in Leadership in Human Systems from Bastyr University and a BA degree in Sociology from the University of Washington.



We deliver high quality, cost effective support services to state government. DES features expertise in statewide contracting, training, printing & mail operations, human resources and financial systems, facilities management, and care of the state capitol grounds and buildings.

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