Facilitators Roles and Responsibilities from Mosaic 

Liberation and Trust: 2021-23 Learning Exchange Series 

LIBERATION AND TRUST is the name of Mosaic Network’s 2021-2023 Learning Exchange Series, an iterative, two-year series of virtual gatherings led by Kyoung H. Park, Joe Tolbert Jr. and Daniel Lim. The exchanges aim to collectively advance all Network members towards a more racially just and culturally equitable reality centering liberation and trust for ALAANA arts and culture organizations. This process will culminate with a field-wide, virtual share-out in early 2023 — a capstone event disseminating lessons learned by the Network for the ALAANA arts and culture sector nationwide. 

The series will consist of six 2-hour sessions whose themes are NAMING, CONTEMPLATION, DECONSTRUCTION, RE-IMAGINING, BUILDING and INVESTMENT for racial justice, following the Mosaic Network’s Social Change model developed by Rasu Julani and Kyoung Park. These virtual gatherings will be held online via Zoom and include Guest Speakers, Facilitated Breakout Groups, Report Backs, and Closing Activities. 

About Mosaic Network and Fund 

The Mosaic Network and Fund is a learning network and collaborative fund that supports arts and cultural organizations that are led by, created for, and accountable to ALAANA people. The Network has built a brave and radical space to foster trust, communication, and mutual learning among ALAANA arts groups and New York City philanthropies, focusing on institutions, the people within them, and the field at large.

Facilitators’ Roles and Responsibilities

In every Learning Exchange session, the guest speakers panel will be followed by breakout room conversations. There will always be seven breakout rooms facilitated by seven facilitators. The theme and framing questions of will change every session. In addition, each breakout room will have its own specific topic within the session’s theme — these topics are to be determined. 

Role: Space Creator and Holder 

As the facilitator, participants will look to you to create and hold a space that is conducive to conversation. Your main role is to help participants feel comfortable and motivated to participate. 


  • Welcome the group and allow participants to briefly introduce themselves before you begin your conversation. 
  • Kick off the conversation by reiterating the theme of the session (e.g., NAMING) and framing questions. 
  • Ask participants to remember the conversation agreements when necessary to maintain a generative space 
  • Hold space for difficult emotions such as grief, heartbreak, fear, and anger; while we want the conversation to be constructive, we also want to steer away from a “positive vibes only” atmosphere 

Ways to start the conversation: 

  • “What stories are emerging in you when you think about the theme of the session?”
  • “What do you want to speak to in regards to the framing questions?” 
  • “What parts of the guest speakers panel really resonated with you?” 

Role: Timekeeper 

The breakout rooms will be 30 minutes long. It will be up to the facilitator to keep time to ensure that the conversation is progressing at a reasonable pace and there is time at the end for the conversation to come to some kind of logical or natural close. 


Ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak 
Provide a good chunk of time (~15 mins) for ALAANA arts and culture organizations to respond to the framing questions first 
Invite arts funders to respond to the prompt questions during the last 15 minutes and follow up with their responses for a deeper exchange prior to the end of your breakout conversation


  • Maintain a stack and allow each person to speak no more than 2-3 minutes at a time.
  • Take a pause every so often and invite folks who haven’t spoken to speak 

Role: Conversation Builder 

The facilitator’s balancing act is to enable a rich conversation to emerge from the participants without themselves leading or steering the conversation. Participants should be the ones deciding where the conversation goes. The facilitator has to ensure that the conversation keeps moving (i.e. does not get stagnant) and that a real conversation is built up amongst the group. 


  • Let conversation emerge from the participants but at the same time ensure that it does not go on tangents from the main topics of interest to the group 
  • Weave threads and find connections as well as differences between what people are saying
  • Step in when needed to address problematic behavior or statements (see Dynamics to Watch Out For below) 


  • Invite participants to reflect on and perhaps respond to what someone else said; this is in contrast to a situation in which everyone just shares their independent thoughts but no real conversation is built up 
  • Practice active listening, be responsive to what people say and highlight poignant statements and questions so that the group can be responsive to them; don’t let people’s statements “hang” in the air, especially powerful statements that should be addressed by the group 
  • Silence is okay. Know the difference between good, productive silences when people are in deep rumination and unproductive silences created by low energy, fear of speaking, or awkwardness as a result of someone doing or saying something problematic 
  • When appropriate, encourage people to speak from the heart and personal experience, and not just from the mind, recognizing that an overly detached and analytical way of speaking can be a self-protective action as well as a maneuver to evade accountability 

Role: Reporter 

During the report-back segment of the learning exchange sessions, each breakout group will be asked to report on their conversation. To keep this process efficient, this role has been given to the facilitators. 


  • IMPORTANT: Find one participant to volunteer to take notes live on the session Google Slides; the notes will be shared with Exchange participants and possibly all Network members
  • Notes don’t have to document everything that was said; focus on poignant stories, data points, statements, and questions 
  • Give a maximum 2-minute report-back of your group’s conversation 
  • You don’t have to report back on everything that was said. The report-back is not a summary, but rather a highlight of the most poignant aspects of the conversation that excited and resonated with your group 

Dynamics to Watch Out For (i.e. Facilitating for Equity) 

Maintaining equity is always an important facet of great facilitation, but it is especially more so when equity is the subject of the conversation. Below are common dynamics to watch out for in your breakout groups that you should be proactive in addressing in order to foster inclusion and equity. 

Funders dominating the conversation. Given their position of power, funders may end up taking up the majority of the air time, feel emboldened to do or say problematic things without accountability, and assert their reality onto others. As facilitator, you are in a unique position of power to manage the funders’ influence on the conversation and remind them to center the voices of ALAANA arts and culture organizations whose voices are often marginalized and underrepresented in decision-making. 

People of dominant identities dominating the conversation. Similar to above, people of dominant identities such as White people, cisgender men, and affluent individuals may end up taking up the majority of the air time, feel emboldened to do or say problematic things without accountability, and assert their reality onto others. It helps to highlight any patterns that you see and ask individuals to reflect on how their dominant identities may be shaping their perspective and the way they’re showing up in the conversation. 

Tone policing. People of dominant identities may sometimes attempt to regulate the tone and words with which people of nondominant identities communicate difficult truths and ideas in order to make such communication more palatable to them. When you see this happening, remind people who are engaging in tone policing that others need to express their truth in ways that are authentic, that they 

should be focusing on the message rather than how it is delivered, and that it is healthy to examine why they are uncomfortable rather than criticizing others for making them uncomfortable. 

Trauma triggers. Everybody is responsible for healing from their own trauma. No one has the right to stop a conversation from happening simply because it triggers them no matter how difficult the conversation may be. If someone is insisting that a conversation be stopped because it triggers them, rather than acquiesce to their demand, remind them of their ability to leave the conversation temporarily to take care of themselves however they need to before returning to the conversation. 

Understatement of harm. People of dominant identities who do not regularly experience oppression may be unaware of how much harm oppression actually creates. They tend to deny that harm is actually happening simply because they do not experience it themselves. Help such individuals be more appreciative of the fact that oppression harms different groups of people differently and to believe others when they say they are experiencing harm. 

Overstatement of harm. Conversely, people who regularly experience oppression may sometimes overstate the extent of harm in a present situation because their unresolved trauma leads their body to become overly activated/triggered disproportionate to the actual level of danger in a present situation. 

There is also an ongoing philosophical debate as to whether words can be violent or if the concept of violence should be reserved for physical aggression. Wherever your position is in this debate, as the facilitator, help people who may be overstating harm get a firmer grasp of the current situation by reminding them that disagreement is not synonymous with harm (i.e. someone who disagrees with you is not automatically harming you with their words) and that sometimes our emotions, while authentic in the sense that we are experiencing them, may not be an accurate barometer of what’s actually happening. 

Trauma voyeurism. Funders and people of dominant identities may sometimes be motivated by a desire to witness the expression of trauma and struggle by people of color. They may insist that people divulge their stories of oppression. This type of interaction only has one-way benefit, rather than mutual benefit. 

If such a situation occurs, remind folks that they do not have to share any stories they do not wish to share (healthy boundaries!), encourage them also to share stories of joy and thriving, and ask people in positions of power to discuss vital information about their organization that is usually restricted to the public and what tangible actions they will take to advance equity so that the exchange of information is mutually beneficial. 

How to Manage Conflict 

● If people are locked in a back-and-forth debate, it can sometimes help to identify the underlying issues, concerns, or emotions so that they can be addressed 

○ Or it also works simply to say that the debate won’t be settled for now and that you want to move on to make room for other things to be explored 

● If an “us versus them” sentiment starts to emerge, remind people that all of us play a role in the system and encourage them to work together 

● If people are consistently making assumptions, invite them to ask clarifying questions instead ● Be firm in establishing boundaries of no tolerance for personal attacks, aggressive behavior or speech, and discriminatory behavior or speech 

● Remind folks that disagreement is okay as long as the disagreement is not rooted in oppression and denial of a person’s right to exist, as James Baldwin famously once said. These issues are complex and we should expect divergence in opinion and strategy. 

● Ask Kyoung, Joe, or Daniel to join your room by pressing “Ask for Help” in your toolbar if you need support. 

Renaming Yourself 

  • We ask that you rename your Zoom name in the following manner: 
  • “First Name Last Name (pronouns) | Group # Facilitator” 
  • Example: “Sarah Joon (she/her) | Group #5 Facilitator” 

Breakout Room Privacy 

When you are in your breakout room, you will only see and hear the other people in your breakout, and you will have your own chat box. The lead facilitators and others outside of the breakout room cannot hear or see you, and your conversations will not be recorded, so it is a private space. 

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