Drawing on CPC’s decades of workshop facilitation, Critical Conversations use poetry as a springboard to increase belonging and inclusion in the workplace. By centering the dialogue on lived experiences reflected in poems, the process launches transformative discussions without requiring those most violently and directly affected by racism to tell or retell their stories of trauma and resilience.

Each session is led by two trained and racially diverse facilitators. Sessions include exploration of a theme related to racial justice through discussion of contemporary poems, sharing of personal experiences, and guided writing practice. No prior poetry experience or education is needed!

Sessions can be conducted online via Zoom or in-person if/when allowed by state and local safety guidelines. Contact us today to discuss pricing and logistics! Special rates are available for non-profit organizations.

Each session includes:
· Two trained facilitators (virtual or in-person)
· A pre-session reading and concepts packet distributed to all participants, including shared terminology and introduction to anti-oppressive practices
· Recordings of authors reading their poems
· Time for guided individual reflection, peer sharing, and group conversation
· Post-session document with resources for further reading and exploration

To learn more, read on and check out the brief introductory video below!


Through this 90-minute introductory online session, two seasoned facilitators guide up to 50 participants through a process of individual reflection, peer sharing, and full-group discussion based on two compelling contemporary poems.

This process supports co-workers in reflecting on their own lived experiences and the experiences of others, engaging in deep listening, deepening their human connections, and expanding their sense of interconnectedness and understanding. CPC staff will work with you to determine the most appropriate workshop focus, learn about any workplace language parameters, and coordinate scheduling and


The full Critical Conversations @ Work: Anti-Racism series includes three to four customizable sessions, each focusing on a different topic related to the impact of race on our shared human experience and work communities.

Standard sessions are two hours in length and designed to work with up to 15 participants. Each is facilitated by two trained facilitators. CPC staff will meet with you to select the most appropriate series of workshops, learn about any workplace language parameters, and coordinate scheduling and logistics.

Click here for multi-session series summaries

Ready to bring Critical Conversations to your workplace?

Meet our Curriculum Designers & Facilitators

Greg Geffrard is an educator, actor, and spoken word artist. He has been dedicated to decolonizing spaces of art creation and has championed those willing to engage in the immediate conversation about what equity looks like within our institutions since moving to Chicago in 2012. He has been a teacher with Steppenwolf since 2015 and a Sexual Assault Prevention Educator since 2016. He has partnered with Chicago Inclusion Project, Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Old Town School of Folk Music, and Chicago Arts Partnership in Education to facilitate challenging conversations, create curriculum and formulate initiatives to aid in the creation of brave spaces for art to be cultivated. He is currently creating Antiracist workshops with the Chicago Poetry Center and is an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago. His work broadly speaking focuses on the empowerment of historically dehumanized populations and being self generators of radical joy. Marty McConnell is a poet, educator, and healer based in Chicago where she provides vital coaching and consulting services to people and organizations, supporting them in being planful, proactive, and powerful in building the lives and worlds they envision. She is the author of when they say you can’t go home again, what they mean is you were never there, winner of the 2017 Michael Waters Poetry Prize; her first full-length collection, wine for a shotgun, received the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Awards, and was a finalist for both the Audre Lorde Award and a Lambda Literary Award. YesYes Books recently released her first nonfiction book, Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Poetry Workshop. She is the co-creator and co-editor of underbelly, a web site focused on the art and magic of poetry revision. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Best American Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and Indiana Review.


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Multi-session Series Summaries

Single-session and Multi-session versions of the curriculum are available. For an overview of both, click here. Below are the details for each session of the full series. Customized processes are also available!

What’s in a Name?
In this session, we will discuss poems and tell stories that explore the power of naming – our names, the names of places that we encounter daily. How does language in the form of naming connect or disconnect us from each other and the world around us? How can a name be a shield, a weapon, or both? What role does race play in those interactions and intersections?

The Presence of Harm, the Possibility of Healing
White supremacy is a system that threatens the well being of everyone in the system. The damage ranges from subtle to fatal, and in this session we will discuss poems and tell stories that explore the continuum of harm to which we are vulnerable and which we inflict. How can we re-humanize ourselves and each other within a dehumanizing system? How do we define, find, offer safety? What weapons do we possess, and what would it mean to lay them down?

You vs. Me, Us vs. Them, Me vs. Me
A sense of belonging is essential to human development and well being. But what happens when group identification becomes weaponized exclusivity? In this session we will discuss poems and explore personal experiences of otherness and claiming, exploring such questions as: what does exclusivity do for us? What do we deprive ourselves of through exclusion of the “other?” What harm do we inflict intentionally or unintentionally upon those outside our “tribe?” What might allow for true healing?

Shadow Indicates the Presence of a Light
Celebration and stubborn insistence on hope are key to refusing and defusing despair, particularly during times of great upheaval and change. This makes them essential to the shared survival of the human species. In this session we will discuss poems and explore personal experiences of survival, thriving through adversity, and the triumph of love and belief in the face of daunting odds.

Recent Critical Conversations clients