RAISING THE BIG ToP: Facilitating Leadership in the Midst of Diversity and Change
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Posted by: Caitlin Sarro
January 10th - Jan 13th 2014, the ToP Network hosted its annual gathering in Minneapolis, MN. This year’s theme was Raising the Big ToP: Facilitating Leadership in the Midst of Diversity and Change. The conference drew over 150 participants - from over 58 different cities and 21 different U.S. states, as well as visitors from Canada and Kuala Lumpur! In addition to the wide reach of the conference, locally, over 50+ facilitators joined in on the exchange.
The Raising the Big ToP circus theme had several different acts, including facilitation acrobatics, cirque du soleil plenary session, and a minute to win it networking time. The hosting team in MN found that the circus theme lent itself to sessions that moved with ‘flexibility, fun, frolic’ role-modeling innovative, deep, and participatory facilitation.
The breakout sessions included avant garde topics around facilitation including but not limited to, climate change, public health, virtual facilitation & social media, information technology and more. For a full list, check out the conference brochure at www.top-network.org. There were many pre and post conference events, some notable ones being a Community Development Intensive course led by Bill Staples from ICA Associates in Canada, and in partnership with ICA-USA, and Inspiring Group Creativity - Facilitation for Innovation pilot course facilitated by Ann Epps and Marti Roach and also co-created by Eunice Shankland and Cherie Lockett.
In addition to a great conference, the ToP Network has had an exciting start this year. A new executive team is in full force, chaired by Irina Fursman, who founded ICA-Ukraine, and Barbara MacKay of North Star Facilitators and past professional development chair of the IAF. Nine action teams have been formed to further development in new curriculum initiatives, community development, marketing the ToP brand and courses, network membership, building relevant resource materials for other fields, initiate topic specific virtual communities of practice, strengthen the certification program, ensure the website stays current, and more.
Globally, a task force of about ten people, in conjunction with the ICAI Board are having conversations regarding policy recommendations to the ICA International network around the ToP brand globally. Led by Larry Philbrook, representatives from the US on the taskforce include Irina Fursman and Sheryl Johnson of the ToP Network, and Seva Gandhi of ICA-USA. ICA and the ToP Network are excited for all the things to come in 2014.