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Anti-Bias Training for State Arts Agencies

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Anti-Bias Training for State Arts Agencies

Virtual | October 12 - December 14, 2021

NASAA is proud to announce a new professional development initiative: Anti-Bias Training for State Arts Agencies. This program will help state arts agencies navigate everyday biases that arise in the office, around the board table, in public forums and in interactions with constituents. We hope you can join us!


Why Anti-Bias Training?

As representatives of government organizations, state arts agency staff and council members have a special responsibility to recognize and reduce bias as we pursue our public service missions. But bias can be tricky to uproot because it is a natural part of who we are as humans. We all absorb group norms and social identities that affect our perceptions of the world. To process the complexities of our day-to-day to lives, we also are prone to unconscious preferences toward or against particular perspectives, behaviors and patterns. Even when we’re not aware of them, these preferences can reinforce particular ways of being and working.

In addition to affecting our individual actions and interactions, bias affects the institutions and systems that we create. When biases are left unchecked or go unnoticed, they limit us to particular ways of interacting and working, and they can leave out strategies or practices that could serve our goals.

NASAA’s anti-bias training will help members develop a deeper understanding of your own identities, and will leave you with tools to ask the right questions in order to begin to shift your practices and behavior toward more inclusive workplaces, interactions, programs and services. This training will engender individual and collective practices toward reducing bias by raising awareness and offering practical, positive actions you can pursue in your work in state arts agencies.


Series Objectives

  • Increase self-awareness on how our identities impact our work.
  • Develop shared meaning for terms like diversity, equity, inclusion and culture.
  • Begin to ask ourselves different questions to dig into what’s beneath the surface.
  • Practice using our self- and other-awareness to adapt our behavior toward inclusion.


The Training

NASAA’s anti-bias training series is offered for three member groups:

  • Executive Staff (for executive and deputy directors)
  • General Staff (for both program and administrative personnel)
  • Council Members (for the appointed boards of state arts agencies)

Each track considers the unique challenges and responsibilities of the peer group for which it is designed. All sessions within a track build upon each other, moving from anti-bias fundamentals through job-specific scenarios. When registering, you will be signing up for the whole series in your track; we strongly recommend that you attend all of your sessions.

Note that this professional development program is offered exclusively for state arts agencies and regional arts organizations. It is not open to the general public. To make participation accessible to all states and regions, NASAA is waiving registration fees.

All sessions will be delivered virtually via NASAA’s Zoom platform. To encourage candor and achieve constructive confidentiality, sessions will NOT be recorded. So mark your calendar and plan to participate in real time!


Executive Staff Track

A three-part training for deputy directors and executive directors that offers anti-bias fundamentals then focuses on leadership, reducing bias in supervision, and the creation of inclusive and equitable organizational cultures and systems.

Session 1 Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern

Session 2 Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern

Session 3 Wednesday, November 3, 2021, 3:00–5:00 p.m. Eastern

REGISTER: Executive Staff TRACK

General Staff Track

A three-part training for program/administrative staff that offers anti-bias fundamentals then focuses on reducing bias in interpersonal and group settings (staff teams, interactions with constituents, etc.) and “leading from the middle” to create equitable and inclusive programs and services.

Session 1 Tuesday, November 30, 2021, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern

Session 2 Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern

Session 3 Tuesday, December 14, 2021, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern


Council Member Track

A two-part training for councils/boards that offers anti-bias fundamentals then focuses on reducing bias around the board table and tackles common governance challenges.

Session 1 Tuesday, November 9, 2021, 3:00 -5:00 p.m. Eastern

Session 2 Tuesday, November 16, 2021, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern

REGISTER: Council Member TRACK


Meet the Trainers

Team Dynamics is a people of color–, woman- and LGBTQ-owned business. Cofounded by Trina C. Olson and Alfonso T. Wenker, Team Dynamics is a national strategy firm based in Minnesota that provides training and coaching to help leaders and workplaces live up to their potential through intentional and meaningful culture change. Recognizing the breadth of populations with whom state arts agencies regularly interact, Team Dynamics will be assigning NASAA a team of trainers—mixed across lines of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, religious tradition and more—for each track. This approach ensures that a robust diversity of lived experience, expertise and vantage points informs the program.


Sam Blackwell, Senior Strategist

An experienced facilitator and coach both locally and nationally, Sam Blackwell is committed to supporting people in working toward their goals. As a white, queer man, Sam has seen the ways in which his identities have both benefitted and alienated him in his life and his work. Sam has spent the last decade working in nonprofits of all sizes and has worked on local, state and national levels to tackle homelessness and its disproportionate impact on LGBTQ people and Black, Indigenous and people of color. And as a former people leader, Sam has experience in using intentional strategies to build inclusion with teams of diverse identities.

Friends and colleagues have described Sam as a calming presence and as a person who remains undaunted by his community’s biggest challenges. Sam has always challenged assumptions about why things are the way they are, choosing instead to think about how things could be and what it would take to get there. Outside of Team Dynamics, Sam cohosts Just Break Up, a podcast that offers people relationship advice that is grounded in mental health, radical self-love, antiracism, queerness and sex positivity.

A Wisconsinite by birth, Sam has spent the last 15 years building community in his adopted hometown of Minneapolis. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in English language and literature.


Tyrai Bronson-Pruitt, Vice President of Capacity Building

Tyrai Bronson-Pruitt is a passionate, energetic leader and facilitator who strives to empower others to recognize and celebrate differences in order to create change in the individual and their communities.

Prior to her work at Team Dynamics, Tyrai served as a K-12 educator and as the diversity and inclusion manager for Reading and Math Inc. Tyrai has developed a variety of diversity and inclusion trainings and activities on the topics of race, age, gender and other facets of diversity. Tyrai demonstrates her passion for social justice in her personal and professional life by seeking out and sharing the necessary tools and resources to create equitable and inclusive spaces for all people.

Born and raised in Minneapolis and spending time in Omaha, Nebraska, for college, Tyrai is committed to making life in the United States better for herself, her wife and their four children.

Tyrai has a master of arts degree in organizational leadership. She became a trained racial justice facilitator for the YWCA of Minneapolis. In 2016, Tyrai was given the Catalytic Leader Award by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.


Anil Hurkadli, Trainer and Coach

Anil Hurkadli considers it his life’s work to ensure people are equipped with the knowledge, skills, mindsets and relationships necessary to thrive. Anil has had the privilege of doing that work in many ways throughout his career and sees his commitment to equity and social justice as deeply rooted in his family’s immigration story.

Anil previously served as the executive director for Teach For America in Minnesota, where he led the first alternative teacher licensure program in the state. A seasoned organizational leader and manager, Anil is currently lead designer for the Harvard Kennedy School, where he is codesigning and executing the Mid-Career MPA program’s first required course on race, racism and colonialism. Anil served as the learning and strategy officer at the Thrivent Foundation, where he worked to ensure that equity in every foundation policy and practice led to equity in its strategic outcome areas of family-sustaining employment and financial health.

Anil grew up in Minnesota; his parents immigrated from India, his father spending his career from the 1980s – 2010s at IBM. For school, and then later for work, Anil also lived in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Anil is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and holds an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School. He is a fierce advocate for students and works to improve opportunities for young people through his involvement as an appointee to the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and a board member for the East Side Funders Group, New Vision Foundation, the Coalition of Asian American Leaders and AchieveMpls.


Tisa Mitchell, Senior Strategist

Tisa Mitchell offers more than 10 years of training experience on various education and wellness topics, along with extensive research experience in the area of family engagement, cultural competency, family systems and relationships. In addition, she has held teaching positions focused on the topics of life skills and relationship building.

Tisa is currently engaged in obtaining her doctorate of philosophy in education policy, and leadership track of organizational leadership, policy and development at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. Tisa’s additional education includes a master of arts degree in family studies from Southeast Missouri State University and the University of Minnesota.

When Tisa is not in the classroom or lecture hall, she is providing guidance to young athletes through her role as a basketball assistant varsity coach at the high school level.


Trina Olson, Cofounder and CEO

Trina Olson is a two-time executive director with a track record of building and retaining teams across race, gender and sexual orientation to achieve shared goals. Trina has built an impressive portfolio of national and regional policy and advocacy experience, centering a multitude of progressive issues.

Trina is a Minnesotan who has also made her home in 18 U.S. cities, including: Seattle, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. A queer, white cisgender woman, Trina is motivated by the ways job creators could be addressing the intersection of identity and workplace more creatively and consistently to address the pervasive inequities still at play across race and gender, in particular

Trina is a frequently called upon thought leader and presenter. She specializes in all things staff management and organizational strategy. Trina’s past executive experience includes time leading a regional community foundation, as well as leading Immigration Equality, the national organization committed to providing free legal services to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, binational couples and detainees. Trina has used her degree in communications to design winning fundraising, communications and issue campaigns.

Trina is the author of Fairness in Philanthropy, Leveling the Playing Field for Our LGBTQ Neighbors, as well as Seeking Safe Haven: LGBTQ People and the American Immigration Experience. Together, Trina and Team Dynamics cofounder and president Alfonso Wenker have cowritten a soon-to-be-released book entitled Hiring Revolution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Disrupt Racism and Sexism in the Workplace.


Levi Weinhagen, Senior Strategist & Special Projects Director

Levi Weinhagen has spent the past 20 years developing and deploying deep skill in education, community engagement, communication and intercultural growth.

A straight white man embedded in media organizations and nonprofits throughout his entire career, Levi experienced firsthand how organizational cultures have always been informed by identity. Both a theater maker and the father of a teenage girl, Levi is invested in our clients having embodied, transformative experiences when engaging in race and gender equity work.

In addition to his work at Team Dynamics, Levi is a teaching artist with COMPAS and produces and hosts a podcast called “Not About You” that is a serious yet entertaining look at social justice issues in America. He founded a project called Justice Chickens that brings together groups of comedy creators and justice-focused organizations to use the tools of comedy to look for creative approaches to the work of making change.

Levi is a graduate of HOPE Community’s Sustainable Progress through Engaging Active Citizens (SPEAC) organizer training program. He has a degree in anthropology from the University of Minnesota, and completed the 2017 Center for Performance and Civic Practice Summer Institute.


Banner image: Detail from Sharon Robinson’s “It’s All in the Genes” mixed media collage on canvas, 2015. This piece was selected for the Maryland State Arts Council’s juried exhibition IDENTITY, which explored the cultural, social, gender and racial intersections of multiple identities and honored self-reflections of artists in Maryland.