Staff & Consultants
S t a f f
Practicing council – listening and speaking to one another from the heart – changes the nature of our relationships, brings perspective, awareness, empathy, and accountability, and makes us more capable and resilient as individuals and communities.
Marc became involved with council in 2005 when, as a parent volunteer, he became an intern and then a facilitator of classroom councils at his daughters’ elementary school. Practicing council and sharing the practice with others has been an expanding part of his life ever since. In addition to working with Council in Schools as a consultant, facilitator, trainer, and now CIS Co-Director, Marc was a member of the board of directors of The Ojai Foundation for many years, using council for organizational leadership and governance. He is a certified facilitator of Restorative Community Conferences. A former teacher, Marc is also a lawyer and mediator, providing legal representation and dispute resolution services to families, communities, businesses, schools, and organizations.
I believe that council ‘training’ is really council ‘remembering.’ We all know intuitively how to respect one another and ourselves when we arrive in the circle. I also know that the children are closer to the source of this remembering than most of us and so they, as student leaders, will call us back to council. If we are to survive at this critical time, humanity must remember the fundamental skill of receptivity—of listening to one another and to the natural world.
Joe Provisor, M.A, LMFT, is the founder of the Council in Schools Program. He holds two Masters Degrees in English and Clinical Psychology, is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and has been a public school teacher for over thirty years. He began council practice with public school students in 1986, uses the process in his therapeutic practice, and has been a council trainer for The Ojai Foundation since 1994, providing workshops for educators, therapists, and business people nationally and internationally. From 2006 to December 2013 he served as a Program Specialist for the Los Angeles Unified School District, where, through the district’s Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and School Support he brought council and restorative practices to over 65 LA schools. Joe has trained and mentored teachers (pre-K to post-secondary), administrators, counselors, therapists, and business people to integrate community-building practices into curriculum and institutions. Joe’s work in these areas has been supported by major grants from the Herb Alpert and Annenberg Foundations among others. Recognized by the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, the California State Auditor, and the President’s Initiative on Race, his original program designs have been used for institutional visioning, conflict transformation, and crisis intervention. Joe is the author of numerous curricular and training materials for language arts instruction and for the Council process, including An Introduction to Council for Educators: Training Manual. He is currently at work on a book to be titled Teaching and Learning in Circles: The Way of Council in Education. Joe considers council “a remembering” and its resurgence an archaic revival. Perpetually in recovery from the illusion of separateness, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife Abbe, and he has two children who have flown the coop—Aaron, a jazz pianist, and Hannah, who is studying Musical Theater at Penn State.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to guide and support educators, children, and myself in remembering the practice of listening and speaking “from the heart.” – to suspend evaluation and opinion in order to respect (“re-see”) other people, stories, and ideas. I truly believe that if our future leaders, the children and young adults of today, integrate council practice into their lives and use it to co-vision the future, the people of the world may participate in, and bear witness to, a new era of peace, harmony, and creativity.
Monica co-founded Council in Schools CIS in 2006 with Joe Provisor and served as Program Advisor for the CIS office in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and School Support (OCISS) from 2006-13. She holds a Masters degree in School-Based Family Counseling from California State University, LA and is a credentialed school counselor with an authorization in Child Welfare and Attendance in the State of California. She has served as a Pupil Services and Attendance Counselor at several schools in the LAUSD. Monica has worked for The Ojai Foundation (TOF) since 1995, facilitating council in public and private school classrooms (including Palms Middle School), providing mentoring for teachers and counselors, and coordinating numerous school council programs throughout Los Angeles. She has been a certified council trainer since 1999 and co-authored “The Council Facilitator’s Guidebook for Eighth Grade,” and has developed content, council lesson plans, and articles for the CIS website. From 1993-99 she worked as a dialogue facilitator for The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), a human relations organization dedicated to promoting social justice.
Program Coordinator Ventura
In The Power of Kindness, Piero Ferrucci states: ‘In order to be kind, we must make time.’ Council invites slowing down, developing patience and empathy, deeply listening to every single person in the circle. More schools now are inviting councils, which invite students and teachers to put on the brakes and, at least for a moment, drop the pressures to perform. When we do this, we are more likely to truly meet and to come to know and accept each other as the wacky, beautiful human beings that we are—all working with the same old stories, all figuring it out the best we can.
Chris is passionate about authentic communication as a path to deeper relationships, greater social understanding and a more peaceful world. She has been facilitating council circles in various settings since 1995. Chris comes to the CIS team after 25 years as an award-winning educator in public and private schools. Chris currently serves as Program Coordinator in Ventura County, where she has introduced council into all of the Ventura Unified District’s middle schools and is expanding into elementary and high schools. Now living in Ojai, she mentors and facilitates councils in Ojai Valley private schools and hosts a monthly council of public and private school educators there. Chris was a founding member of New Roads School in Santa Monica, California, where for 18 years she served as a teacher and middle school director. New Roads School is dedicated to diversity and social justice, and council has been a cornerstone of the school from its conception. Chris facilitated weekly classroom councils with students as well as councils with parents, faculty, and staff. Previously, Chris was a bilingual teacher and BTSA mentor in the Los Angeles and Hawthorne Unified School Districts. A life-long learner who has attended 14 colleges over the years, Chris earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California at San Diego, graduating magna cum laude, and a master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Chris is an avid world traveler, accomplished chef, amateur naturalist, birder, photographer, and practitioner of council in every aspect of her life.
C o n s u l t a n t s
I believe there is no greater act toward bringing peace to our world than when we tell our stories from the heart and hear another’s story from the heart… with heart.
Camille is a certified council trainer. Since1991, she’s had the privilege of working with kindergarteners through graduate students, students with special needs (autism, attention deficit, developmentally delayed, deaf and hard of hearing), English Language Learners, students in continuation high schools and young women in transitional housing. She has mentored numerous LAUSD teachers and co-facilitates Council 1 Trainings, including a personalized training for SPED teachers. In 1996, Camille co-founded Inside Out Community Arts, a nationally award-winning, theatre-based program working with underserved middle and high school youth to foster communication, understanding, problem resolution and leadership skills. She co-wrote their Artist Leader Manual, and continues to train new teaching artists in the curriculum and methodology, which incorporates council elements. Camille is an Instructor for UCLArts & Healing’s Social Emotional Arts Certificate Program and UCLA’s undergraduate course, “Maximizing the Social-Emotional Benefits of Arts Education.” Working with Collective Voices and ArtworxLA, she’s combined her love of theatre and Council into a curriculum for performance art and social emotional learning. At Imagination Workshop, 1987-1996, she worked with psychiatric forensic clients, homeless families and homeless/addicted veterans in recovery. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Theatre, she’s had a long career as a professional actress in NY and LA including Broadway, TV and film. The circle is a great equalizer with the capacity to bring us all to the highest common denominator. Learning to listen from the heart and seeing the world through the eyes of love, is probably one of the most challenging tasks we are given as human beings. Council provides a pathway to achieving greater wholeness, as individuals, a society and as stewards of the Earth. By introducing council at an early age, we have the opportunity to create systemic change and build a kinder, more compassionate world from the ground up!
When I was first introduced to Council by Shelley Kessler at Crossroads School, I had an amazing experience of being able to be just as I am, with others who were being just themselves. That continues to be what Council is for me, a place where it’s safe to see and hear each other just as we are. Then there is the transformative aspect of Council where something larger than each individual is present. As each in the circle shares and listens , in the collective there a a healing truth.
I have been a council facilitator since 1985 when I was trained to lead council at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. Since then I have led Councils in a variety of public schools in Los Angeles, where I have had the privilege of mentoring teachers in the practice. In addition, I hold a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and I am a licensed Marriage, Family therapist. I worked for eight years at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Thalians Mental Health. There I used council in many of the groups I led including, ADHD groups for parents, children and adults; coping skills groups for adults with depression, anxiety, bipolar, and schizophrenic disorders, and support groups for seniors. I have found that council is a quick route to heartfelt, authentic connection between people that brings understanding and compassion to relationships.
As children, we may have learned to shout a little louder to be heard above the din. The practice of council helps us to relax into the role of listening, reinforcing the notion that, with good intention, a different, more compassionate identity is possible. By learning how to listen to both peers and adults in the circle, children earn the right to speak and be heard. Imagine if we were a world of listeners instead of primarily a world of speakers!
Kate’s council practice took a leap in 1999 when she helped launch a program for teachers, parents and children at the Open Charter School – the first time council had been rolled out in a public elementary school in Los Angeles. Since then, through Council in Schools, she has introduced the practice, mentored teachers, and led trainings, retreats and community councils at the International Studies Learning Center, Webster Middle School, Westwood Charter Elementary, and Walgrove Elementary where she is proud to have introduced the optional, lunchtime weekly Council Club. As a Center for Council certified trainer, she has facilitated council in prisons, and trained the staff of several social profit organizations. She is host to regular councils and council-based explorations, in her home and in the wild, for colleagues and “the Council Curious.” In 2013, with the daughter who introduced her to council, she relaunched the Mother Daughter Council Retreat – an annual celebration at The Ojai Foundation. Kate has been working with communication dynamics for 40 years, beginning as an Clio-award-winning advertising copywriter, authoring several community-organizing books as Vice President of TreePeople in Los Angeles, and empowering women as a homebirth midwife’s assistant. In 2009, she received a B.A. in English and Linguistic Anthropology from UCLA, using council practice for her fieldwork and graduating summa cum laude.
Michelle Pilar Mansfield
In council we learn from each other and ourselves. There is no prescribed knowledge to pass on, instead there is our human experience and the skill to give and receive from it. We slow down intent on finding what is lost to the speed of this modern world. The premise is simple – speak honestly, listen respectfully, and hopefully . . . by way of our shared humanity, we make better decisions, learn to cope with life’s challenges, and live more connected and thus satisfying lives.
Michelle began practicing council in 1991 with young people at I Have a Dream Foundation in Watts where she taught creative writing. At the time council was remedy to the blank stares and frequent student protest “We have nothing to write!” It continued to be an integral part of the workshop from 7th grade until high school graduation.
In 1998 she began training with Joe Provisor and has continued facilitating circles ever since. She has worked at New Roads School, Palms and in bilingual schools in Mexico where she lived for eight years. She has created and facilitated council retreats for youth and adults exploring themes such as community, restorative practices and leadership. Actively involved in all aspects of CIS Michelle designs programs to meet the needs of individual schools as well as serves as the site-coordinator at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Burlington. She is mentor, parent council facilitator and trainer at a number of Los Angeles area schools. Michelle graduated USC with a degree in business administration and has a background in dance and poetry. She is bilingual and has contributed to the translation of council materials into Spanish. She is also a contributor to the CIS Educator’s Training Manual.
John W. McCluskey
From the first time I sat in a Council to yesterday when I sat in a Council, and for the almost twenty years in between, I have never met the same person! I even see my most intimate friends anew each time I sit and deeply listen to their story. When young people find their voice and speak their truth, real skills are integrated into their whole selves and as a result, teachers know with confidence that their students have learned. What a gift it is to truly be able to make a difference and to be made different all at the same time! Come, join the circle.
John W. McCluskey, Principal with Horizons K-8 School in Boulder, CO, has been carrying council in schools over the past twenty two years. He entered the teaching profession dedicated to holistic educational alternatives, which has led him down a dynamic career path. He has traveled extensively with students from Guatemala, to across the desert Southwest. He has been a faculty member at Colorado State University, a director of a summer camp for Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and has taught 1st-12th grades and now spends his days as a school administrator. His passion for authentic human connections led him to become a Council trainer and to co-found the Colorado Center for Council Training in 1996. He joined the faculty of the PassageWorks Institute to support school based rites of passage work in 1999. He earned both his B.S. and M.S. in Education from Colorado State University. A mountain man at heart, John spends his leisure time enjoying life above 8000 ft with his wife Emily and their three children.
I keep returning to council in one form or another – as a facilitator, as a mentor, within our family, even in my writing. The circle holds what is essential. To be able to introduce children to this process is a gift for which I am ever grateful. To watch them taste their voice, often for the first time, then feel and recognize and claim the power within themselves and within the circle makes my heart soar!
Kathleen began serving as a facilitator in 2000 when the Open Magnet Charter School launched the first campus-wide elementary school council program. As a parent, she trained at the Ojai Foundation and facilitated weekly circles with children from K-5th grades. One of her greatest joys was working in a 4th-5th cluster that utilized council to invigorate and deepen student understanding and appreciation of literature from their readings in the Junior Great Books program. Kathleen has since mentored elementary and middle school teachers at Wilshire Park Elementary School and Camino Nuevo Harvard. After graduating from Princeton University with a degree in Art History and Photography and working in documentary film production in New York, Kathleen moved to Los Angeles in 1986. Since then she has unleashed and nurtured her passions for the natural world, yoga and writing. She earned a Certificate in Horticulture at UCLA Extension and went on to design residential landscapes, as well as work at The Virginia Robinson and Huntington Gardens. She is a certified yoga instructor and maintains a committed personal practice. Currently she is writing for children and young adults and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Renaissance Arts Academy.
Council is a path to healing the planet and ourselves by listening. In council we learn by identifying with others’ stories that we are not alone. We take a moment, put aside our preconceived ideas, listen to others, and speak from our hearts. I have found that council brings authenticity to the moment, I have a passion for connection and community, and I bring heart and kindness to the council circles I facilitate in schools.
Jody was trained to facilitate council at Crossroads School and at The Ojai Foundation. Currently, she is facilitating middle school councils and serving as site coordinator for CIS’s program at Malibu High School, where she also started staff and parent and councils. She feels passionately about the experience the girls and boys get participating in gender separate councils that allow for intimate, authentic sharing. Jody also facilitates councils at Malibu Leadership Academy, a home school group for middle school-aged children.
Jody created The Green Team, a sustainability and community-building program at Marquez Elementary School, and started The Speaking Space, a forum to support adults in times of shared transitions. She currently works with families dealing with the transition of their children leaving home.
After receiving her psychology degree from CSUN in 1992, Jody worked as a creative movement specialist with children and discovered that through movement and play with creative visualization children were able to access themselves, and then connect with other children. She uses this experience to integrate movement into her councils to facilitate each child accessing their inner self.
When we make the time, make the space, hold the intention – to truly listen for meaning to one another and to ourselves, we may discover ways to live more fully together with integrity and caring. It is all too hard to find these places in our hectic world. We are giving our young people a head start with council.
Lise has consulted as a mentor and coordinator since CPC’s founding in 2006. She is currently site consultant for the Options Initiative, bringing council to high school students who face challenges completing their secondary education. She has also been privileged to work with Wonderland Elementary, Van Nuys and Crenshaw High Schools and the staff of Carlson Home Hospital School in recent years. Lise is a certified council trainer, her involvement with council and The Ojai Foundation having begun over 15 years ago. She co-authored “The Council Facilitator’s Guidebook for 8th Grade.” Lise’s work with council came about because her life’s path, which she began walking over 20 years ago, has been working to help people understand one another when it can be hard to do so. She leads human relations workshops designed to increase interpersonal understanding around issues of race, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic class, among others. She has been an invited presenter at conferences in the area of white racial identity, exploring the complexities of membership in a historically dominant group in a changing world. Her M.A. is in Intercultural Relations from Antioch University and the Intercultural Communication Institute.
As we prepare our children for a world faced with many challenges, we must help them develop new ways of thinking. Two of the most important skills that we need to promote and teach are collaboration and communication. Council helps students listen to their classmates and appreciate diversity of thought. When our students are able to hear each other’s stories and knowledge we strengthen their ability to work together for a common purpose, preparing them to engage in the critical work of saving our planet.
Jane Raphael discovered early in her career the power of having children sit in a circle to communicate with each other. A thirty-year veteran teacher in the L.A. Unified School District, she began using council ten years ago to help build an inclusive classroom community and deepen children’s connection to the curriculum. Jane is committed to educating the whole child, and has used Council as a vehicle for developing students’ social, emotional, physical and academic potential. Jane has received many awards and honors recognizing her outstanding work as a teacher leader, including the Los Angeles Reading Association’s “Outstanding Literacy Teacher” award in 1993. She has served as a UCLA Writing Project fellow, LAEP demonstration teacher, LAUSD mentor teacher, ASCD network facilitator, and Ojai Foundation Council trainer. Jane has designed curriculum for the Council in Schools website for our youngest learners, parents, and teachers.
I believe passionately that the greatest gift of council is enabling children to be heard, to believe that they have a voice, and that their personal stories make them unique individuals with valuable insights to share.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jodi Rosner is a CIS consultant working primarily with elementary schools, currently at Wilshire Park Elementary. She attended Brown University, graduating with a degree in Political Science magna cum laude and returned to California to earn a law degree with distinction from Stanford University. After practicing law for a few years with a San Francisco firm, Jodi left the Bay Area and the legal practice to raise her two daughters, now 12 and 9, in Los Angeles. Jodi first experienced council when her children were attending Open Charter Magnet. Teachers and parent facilitators were leading classroom councils, and also sat in council with each other. Jodi was moved by the power of the circle and the way the practice enabled her to understand and appreciate both others and herself in a new way. This inspired her to attend council training workshops at The Ojai Foundation and spent several years facilitating council with children and adults in schools and non-profits, and mentoring teachers in their classrooms. She has been a certified TOF Council Trainer since 2008. She currently helps to open dialogue in the workplace and creates ceremonies in private settings through her personal endeavor, LACircleworks. In addition to being a lawyer and a council trainer, Jodi teaches yoga and plays capoeira (a Brazilian martial art that is also a circle practice).
While I was an Artist in Residence at SMASH in the 80’s, I discovered Council through my colleagues at Crossroads. As a music and art teacher, I found Council to be wonderful way to develop authentic expression, and find meaning through our shared realities. Whether through Council or Music, I love bringing people together to celebrate life and tell our Stories. I embrace the harmony and discord alike on the journey we take together. I am delighted to share my curriculum with new teachers and Council Facilitators. The Ojai Foundation has been my heart-place for personal growth as well. I am honored to be included in this circle of extraordinary individuals.
Bonnie Tamblyn is a Certified Council Facilitator and Trainer with the Center for Council Training at The Ojai Foundation and serves in an advisory body to the TOF Board. She currently is writing curriculum for the Council in Schools Program. Bonnie first interned as a Council Facilitator in 1993 at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences and then taught there for 17 years. She facilitated at Palms Middle School, where she met Joe Provisor, and brought the program to Santa Monica Alternative School (SMASH) and Archer School for Girls. She conducts yearly Council Intensives for GiRLFeST Hawaii, whose mission is to prevent violence against women and girls through education and art. A singer-songwriter as well, Bonnie’s passion is building community, giving voice to the human story, whether told in a Council Circle, or shared on stage with a guitar in her arms.
The practice of Council has limitless applications and boundaries. The use of the practice transcends ethnicity, gender, language, religion, age, or ones station in life. Council can be put to use in nature, in celebration, in love, in conflict, in loss, and planning for the future. The possibilities are endless. Simply stated, Council practice has the potential to provide for you in ways you might never imagine.
Ray Tucker is a certified trainer for the Ojai Foundation and Council In Schools (CIS) program initiative. In1995, after an extended career in law enforcement, he successfully completed extensive training to become a practitioner of Council. Since that time he has convened Council circles in a variety of diverse communities. He has worked in public, charter, private schools and a school for the deaf. He has helped students, teachers and parents developed sustainable student led service learning projects from elementary to high school. Projects like school wide recycle programs, providing much needed supplies for pediatric cancer patients, to planting trees on a school campus with limited green space. He co-authored the 6th grade curriculum currently used in the CIS Council (Level 1) training manual for educators. The practice of Council has allowed him to work in diverse communities from law enforcement, prison inmates, foster youth in transition and many more. Ray is a graduate of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s academy. He has taken the Museum of Tolerance diversity training for law enforcement officers. He has taken Cathryn Kaye’s, “Strategies for Success with Literacy” training. He also has comprehensive training in Restorative Justice and Community Conferencing practices. Ray has been a site coordinator, managed grant budgets and collaborated with other non- profit organizations to bring Council into their organizations. Ray’s participation in the practice of Council has inspired him to share the practice with anyone who will take time to listen. He believes the practice of Council can be a transformative practice for any person, school community, larger community or business community.
Using council with adults and students helps us share the large and small moments of life, and elicits ideas and stories that might otherwise remain unexpressed.
Julia learned about the power of council to change relationships when her then-teenaged daughter and friends practiced with their teacher, Joe Provisor, as part of the Palms Council Project. A National Board Certified classroom veteran, and council trainer, Julia enjoys collaborating with colleagues and consultants on council-based lesson plans & activities for students, families, faculty, and new teachers, and communities. She developed many of the lesson plans on the CIS website and is a member of the Trainer’s Mentoring Circle, which stewards new council trainers. She holds a Phi Beta Kappa in English from UCLA, a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from Cal State Northridge and Certificate in Instructional Leadership from Mt. St. Mary’s. A fellow of the UCLA Writing Project, Julia loves combining council with books and literacy activities. In addition to her work with Council, Julia develops Common Core State Standards-based close reading text studies in art, literature, and non-fiction for a national non-profit. Julia uses her love for stories in interviews with local citizen activists and artists for the Huffington Post as well.
Council is not just a teaching tool for the classroom; it is a way of life. I have been privileged to sit with children, adults, couples, parents, teachers, mentors in many circles. The social-emotional life of those sitting together, sharing their stories and voices, is what connects my work as educator and psychotherapist, parent and woman. I feel tremendously grateful to be able to participate in this work.
Natalie first became aware of Council in 1990 when, as an English teacher, she sat in circle with a group of educators led by Jack Zimmerman, author of The Way of Council. She knew — immediately — that this practice would change the way she taught, communicated, and listened in both her professional and personal life. Twenty-plus years later, this serendipitous meeting has come full circle. A certified Council trainer of The Ojai Foundation, Natalie is an active member of Council In Schools (CIS) and has worked in the classrooms of Palms Middle School, Daniel Webster Middle School, Revere Middle School, and Marlton School for the Deaf; she also coordinates the Pressman Academy Middle School Life Skills Program. Her hope is to bring Council to additional high schools and groups internationally. A native of Los Angeles, Natalie earned her BA in English and a California Secondary Lifetime Teaching Credential from UCLA, and was a Language Arts teacher at Windward School for 24 years. She has her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist with a private practice in West Los Angeles.
The universal appeal and impact of the ‘council process’ never ceases to awe and inspire me.
Valerie has been a council facilitator, mentor, retreat leader and/or program coordinator in numerous LAUSD schools, working with educators, counselors and students of all grade levels (including Special Education). She has also helped to implement a Youth Council Leadership program at International Studies Learning Center, in which middle and high school students are trained and supported in the process of leading councils with their peers. As a relief worker and therapist, Valerie has utilized the council process with children, adolescents, and families of diverse cultural backgrounds in the United States and various countries. Valerie graduated from Sonoma State University with a Masters of Arts in Counseling. She is a certified Expressive Arts Therapist and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Meridian University. At Children’s Institute, she has worked as a bi-lingual child/adolescent therapist with families from diverse cultural backgrounds. Valerie has worked with “at-risk” youth as a VISTA volunteer in the housing projects of San Antonio, Texas, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in the “barrios” of Colombia, South America. Valerie has also done relief work in numerous countries over the last two decades with Operation USA and coordinated trainings by child trauma therapists in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. As an Expressive Arts therapist and a professional actor (who has appeared in numerous plays, films and television programs), Valerie enjoys incorporating various arts and modalities into the council process.