Thank you for visiting.
My name is Trina Isakson. I grew up in Secwépemc territory (Salmon Arm, BC) and now lives as a settler on ɬaʔamɩn (Tla’amin) territory in what is currently known as Powell River.
I help nonprofit leaders with bold and compassionate change. Through coaching, process design, facilitation, and research, I can help you answer important questions and move forward in uncertain times.
Most of my work is with the core nonprofit sector and organizations that support the sector (funders, capacity builders, volunteer centres, umbrella organizations, government, educational institutions).
How can I help you?
Types of support
For those who want help finding peace and purpose in their work. I especially enjoy working with leaders who identify as introverted or quiet, and who want to embed equity and liberation in their approach to work.
Emergent strategy* and process design
I work with groups to design processes and conversations. I balance planning, and the dynamics of working with uncertainty and complex human beings. I help groups focus on the important conversations needed for things to move forward.
I spend most of my time doing meaningful online facilitation, and have limited availability for in-person facilitation. Online gatherings mean lower travel budgets, less travel time, lower carbon footprints, and increased accessibility.
I help groups figure out where they are at, whether through interviews and focus groups, surveys, or stories. I reflect back to you what I’m learning, and help you use that as a starting point for change.
Focus of support
If you want to figure out better ways of decision-making, engagement, and authority given your group’s unique purpose, I can help you rethink how you do governance. Much of governance is “the way we’ve always done things” and is not rooted in any legal requirements.
Purpose and alignment
If you feel that feel like your group is spinning its wheels on the same issues over and over, or it seems people aren’t all working towards the same goal, I can help you get to the heart of the matter so you can move forward.
Early equity work
If you want senior leadership to sort through feelings related to equity, justice, and moving away from being organizations with a white dominant culture, I can get you started before you begin a more robust equity process.
If you’re curious if I can do something, just ask. If I can’t I may refer you to another person, or collaborate with someone with specific experience or expertise.
Are we a fit?
I find it’s best to start off with a short conversation to find out if we are a fit. Sometimes I refer work to others, sometimes I might suggest an alternative approach after I listen to your goals and your situation. A first call to explore fit is always free.
When we’ve decided to work together, I usually start by us getting to know one another–what values, skills and theories we bring to our work. I then take us through an exercise that gets us focused on what’s most important in our work together, and what you want me to help you achieve. Through this exercise, we make our visions of success explicit, so that I don’t assume what’s important to you, and we make sure all team members are on the same page.
Learning experiences and people who have influenced me
- Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute (adrienne maree brown)
- Liberatory coaching (Sarah Jawaid + Damon Azali-Rojas)
- Art of Transformational Consulting (Robert Gass/Social Transformation Project)
- Deep Democracy (Aftab Erfan + Sera Thompson)
- Online training and facilitation (Training for Change)
- Loving Justice: Embodied Conflict Resolution & Transformative Justice (Kai Cheng Thom)
- MBA in community economic development (Cape Breton University)
- Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement (Simon Fraser University)
I also frequently draw from the learning from the following resources
- Sitting in the Fire: Large Group Transformation Using Conflict and Diversity by Arnold Mindell
- My Grandmothers Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem
- The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture, from Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun
- Framing Research Questions that Reflect Who is Expected to Change by Heather Krause
- Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems by Barry Johnson
These values are not only how I approach work, they are how I approach all areas of my life.
- Simplicity: Quiet. Peace. Nature. Solitude. Reflection. Lack of clutter. Starting small. Being at peace with complexity.
- Curiosity: Learning. Openness to change. Both/and thinking. Deep listening.
- Connection: Ideas. Relationships. Networks. Systems.
- Liberation: Compassion. Equity. Joy. Bringing our full selves. Welcoming each others’ full selves. Justice. Resisting white dominant culture. Making things right.
- New possibilities models*: Unorthodoxy. Questioning status quo. Other ways are possible.
What people say about me
I deeply value the work you did to bring us together as a group, including your opening check-ins and your check-outs. In particular, the care and compassion you showed to us as humans helped us to develop trust in you and amongst our group very rapidly. Your regular work to check consensus, to listen to our feedback, and to be inclusive to all group members contributed to building this trust and our ability to collaborate throughout our process. I also so appreciated your ability to ask insightful questions that helped us clarify, probe, or consider issues or problems where we were stuck or circling something! In general, I had complete trust in your ability to lead us through this complex and complicated process. Thank you, thank you!
Trina – a very sincere note of thank you. I am astounded by how well that went, whether success is measured by depth and innovation in thinking; a collective vision and stronger sense of team; cohesion of the day and team energy— wow! You are a phenomenal facilitator and I will strongly recommend you for future gatherings, and to colleagues.
You gave us the space to love each other.
I often find myself avoiding thinking about things that scare me and allowing outlier opinions throw me off centre. Trina’s coaching helped me gain a sense of perspective on some of the most immediate pressing issues I’m facing and helped remove some of the fears I have by providing some much appreciated clarity of thought.
The session … revealed a common sense of underlying purpose for the organization. There were times where I appreciated Trina stepping in to set boundaries on how people responded to comments.
Trina delivered the session by demonstrating the tools and delivering content through the process. She was forthright and held the room in such a way that the participants could own the process rather than having the facilitator or the process owning the participants. I have been involved in facilitation practice for many years and this was just the inspiration and practice that I needed. Please bring Trina back again next year!
The board and I truly appreciated the work that you did on our strategic plan. If you are ok with this, I would like to forward your information to the CFC [Community Foundations of Canada] people as a resource person who would be available to assist community foundations. You did a great job for us and we will move forward with great clarity about our future.
Your understanding of the ebb and flow of the energy and conversation was extremely good- it made our session very productive.
I appreciated Trina’s human and reflective coaching manner and her help in breaking down big ideas into smaller starter actions and encouragement to experiment.
Trina brings the right tone of patience and compassion for our group.
She brought history and texture, where our diverse group comes from and where we need to go. She made our interaction a comfortable place. She allowed us to have a voice where some of us were shy because of our newness.
Groups I’ve worked with
Funders and capacity builders
- Vancouver Foundation
- Vantage Point
- Social Venture Partners Vancouver
- Community Volunteer Connections
- Volunteer Canada
- Shuswap Community Foundation
- Charity Village
Nonprofit organizations and member-based associations
- BC Civil Liberties Association
- Reconciliation Canada
- BC Libraries Co-operative
- Potluck Café Society
- Gordon Neighbourhood House
- BC Hospice & Palliative Care Association
- Nature on the Hill
- Green Budget Coalition
- Equal Voice
- Pacific Association of First Nations Women
- Strathcona Business Improvement Association
- BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre
- BC Pediatric Society
- Community Energy Association
- Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance
- Embedding Project
- Simon Fraser University, Vice President, External Relations
- Simon Fraser University, Vice President, Academic
- Simon Fraser University, Office for Aboriginal Peoples
- Simon Fraser University, Work Integrated Learning
- Simon Fraser University, Vancity Office of Community Engagement
- Simon Fraser University, Sustainability Office
- SFU Galleries
- SFU Library
- University of British Columbia, Community Learning Initiative
- University of British Columbia, Student Involvement and Careers
- Vancouver Community College, Vice President, Community
- Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Associate VP, Research
- ɬaʔamɩn Nation and City of Powell River Possible Name Change Joint Working Group
- ɬaʔamɩn Health
- Employment and Social Development Canada, Community Development and Partnerships Directorate, Policy Division
- Employment and Social Development Canada, Investment Readiness Program
- Employment and Social Development Canada, Community Development and Partnerships Directorate, Social Partnerships Policy Unit
- Employment and Social Development Canada, Workplace Partnerships Directorate, Office of Literacy and Essential Skills
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Integration / FCRO Branch, Social Innovation Unit
- City of Surrey
- City of Vancouver, Corporate Communications
- City of Vancouver, Parks Planning
- Southern Interior Local Government Association
Publications and resources
- Unraveling: Nonprofits, COVID-19, and the Fabric of BC Communities (full report, executive summary, infographic, data portal)
- No Immunity: BC Nonprofits and the Impact of COVID-19 (full report, infographic)
- Beyond Giving and Volunteering (report in English, report in French)
- 2016 Metro Vancouver Nonprofit Sector Salary Survey
- Quiet Changemaker webinar for Charity Village (recording, slide deck)
- MacMillan Matrix as a Decision Tree
- (will add more as I create accessible, non-PDF versions of personal work)