It's difficult to summarize the obstacles that prevent my family from re-connecting and communicating the considerable love and mutual responsibility we feel. But they are colossal and include false accusations, geographical separation, betrayals of trust, and a tangled knot of legal attacks that freight every gesture with potentially life-threatening consequences. Lawyers and well-meaning social workers have been unable to help us because they work for and within an adversarial justice system. We need reconciliation and a process of restorative justice, but powerful forces are arrayed to keep us from that. We asked Pamela Orbach to hold a circle of trust so that those in the family who felt capable could have something positive to join and engage. Her ability to do so amidst very real contravening forces recalls a white-water raft pilot's skill navigating a rapids. Those of us who have turned to face the circle are held in Pam's ability to maintain a safe space of nonviolence and find the dangerous journey down this unexpected torrent endurable now. We have hope. Not everyone turns to face the circle, but thanks to Pam that's a choice each of has.

A member of a family seeking restorative justice

 

We have been working in partnership with Pam over the past four years to launch and sustain a Restorative Justice Initiative at our university. This collaboration has included planning for and delivering experiential trainings for faculty, staff, and students aimed at community building and peace making, supporting our work in conflict resolution, and her ongoing consultation. The work has had a major impact within our organization, and is now integrated throughout multiple levels of our community. Pam has surpassed all expectations in this highly collaborative effort. She is a strong leader, excellent communicator, and deeply compassionate person. She brings a high level of integrity and effectiveness into her work, as evidenced both in the process of planning and delivering high quality experiences for participants and that outcomes that have resulted. I recommend her highly and without reservation.

Daniel C. Rosen, Ph.D.   | pronouns: he, him, his
Chair and Associate Professor, Counseling & Health Psychology
Director, Daniel K. Church Center for Social Justice & Diversity
Bastyr University

Bastyr University: Center for Social Justice & Diversity, (https://bastyr.edu/about/centers/social-justice-diversity) supports the education and training of Bastyr community members in culturally responsive practices and dismantling of health inequities and disparities.

 

Pam has the gift of modeling what she is teaching about restorative practices and non-violent communication (NVC). As a Person of Color, I have had negative experiences in the past with NVC and was concerned about bringing it to our faith community. However, due to Pam's analysis of systems of oppression and how they play out, even in one on one interactions, I have been able to witness her skill in naming these differences in power when facilitating circles and conversations where Black, Indigenous, POC are present and even when they are not. This is a skill that has helped folks with more power and who have been stuck, become more aware of how they impact others who do not have power in society. This has resulted in creating spaces for people in our community to sit and affirm each other in the fullness of who we are. I highly recommend Pam Orbach to lead workshops, facilitate conversations and model compassionate and caring communication that is rooted in love and liberation.

Aisha Hauser, MSW
Director of Lifelong Learning
East Shore Unitarian Church

 

When I called Pam to do restorative work in my church, I had no idea she would not only initiate healing and trust between people and groups in the church, but also transform my vision of what a church could be – and who I could be. With her uncanny sense of people’s underlying feelings and needs, she opened us to each other and ourselves, reflecting and clarifying the stories and strategies that keep us from seeing who we are. Pam brought the wisdom and sensitivity, and also the methodologies to build trust and community. She is holding, and teaching us to hold, restorative circles using non-violent communications and restorative practice. She revealed the sources of marginalization of those of color and other non-dominant cultural groups. She has worked directly with our teams, modeling and teaching our white racial justice cohort to see the inadvertent damage we do to our colleagues of color with our unconscious white supremacy habits. She is teaching us how to speak truth to power in clear but non-violent ways, to hold our church leadership accountable for the impact of their own practices. And Pam has developed such a deep commitment to our community that she gives of herself whole-heartedly – holding our pain and mistakes gently, and their sources with clarity. Pam is teaching courses on Restorative Justice and Non-Violent Communications, building the skills we need to become the beloved community that is our goal.

Louise Wilkinson

 

I am grateful that you came to East Shore and the opportunity I had to work with you and learn from you. My involvement with the Right Relations committee where you are part of has been a significant growth experience for me, to a large extent, because of your compassionate and thoughtful participation. Further, your teaching in theory and practice on compassionate communication and restorative justice at the events you facilitated and i was able to attend gave me a new perspective on communication, listening skills, and social justice. I have benefited a great deal from my interactions with you; thank you!

Jose Garcia-Pabon

 

Pam Orbach is a skilled facilitator who is able to build trust amongst participants in ways that do not erase or set aside power dynamics, but rather holds them up to gentle examination. Working with her in our faith community (ESUC) has allowed us to have conversations and connection that have brought greater understanding of the ways that unexamined privilege and power can be transformed to hold the needs of everyone. In working with Pam, I've grown as a person. I better understand the strategies that I have used to maneuver through the world and how they sometimes do not serve to bring about the liberation I'm seeking. She is a gentle truth teller, a teacher, and a compassionate human being who is humble and deeply committed to her practice. I am a more effective leader and a better person for having worked with her.

Jack Slowriver

 

Seeing how fluently Pam could zone in on the underlying needs in a situation; and noticing what needs possibly motivated reflex behavior, addressing it in a caring and non-threatening way, was inspiring.

Eleen Polson

 

Freedom Project engaged Pam Orbach, Empowering Connection to further and deepen the connections between our staff and the extended community, as well as internally between staff members.  How fortunate we have been to work with her dual assets of Restorative Circle work and her impressive practice of Nonviolent Communication.

Pam has amazing in-depth listening skills both with individuals and with whole groups.  Her careful design and holding of process invited our Freedom Project Community to hear one another deeply and differently, listening for intent and impact.  Central to her work is a profound expression of empathy and compassion with highest integrity. During the ten months she has circled with us, facilitated a retreat and supported our staff to develop deeper trust, connection and clarity about mission, vision and values. 

Having Empowering Connection and Pam Orbach working with your organization, board, staff or community will certainly ignite your mission too! 

KC Young, OP
Executive Director, Freedom Project

Freedom Project Seattle, (http://freedomeprojectseattle.org) is an innovative educational organization serving inmates and those recently released back into the community. Our programs focus on nonviolent communication and mindfulness.

 

The professional mediation work I originally sought Pam for has evolved into a process of learning new methods of communication and self-connection. I can confidently consider myself a more empathic able business partner, parent, director, collaborator, friend, neighbor, and citizen. The skills I am acquiring have, in very little time, benefited every relationship I have, and I find myself growing and experiencing the quality of connections I have always longed for. Thank you, Pam, for your passion, your expertise, your vision, and everything you do!

Jenny Mae Miller, Sewn Product Services

Pam is a master communicator, mentor, and coach. Her expert guidance turned my professional crisis into an invaluable growth opportunity. The experience has provided me with priceless tools that are no less than life-changing. I am humbled by the power and nuance of her approach. My gratitude for her and the work we do together is boundless.

Kristine Carlton, Sewn Product Services

Sewn Product Services, (http://www.sewnproductservices.com/) are product developers and production managers servicing the apparel, soft goods, and wearable technologies industries. Specializing in pattern drafting, prototyping, pre-production services, and production management, our process produces a concise capsule of deliverables for your factory production.

 

Pam is quite simply a masterful facilitator. Beginning with a profound sense of empathy, she is able to meet people where they are, without judgment or criticism. From this place, she creates a safe space in which people feel comfortable opening up and describing their feelings, needs, hopes, and fears. She helps people to see how their actions affect others, and she also enables people to look inside themselves and see where there is room for growth. I have rarely met someone as adept as Pam at helping youth to see the power they have to effect positive change in their relationships. 

Jordan Goldwarg
Director, Kids4Peace

Kids4Peace Seattle, (http://www.k4p.org/chapters/seattle/), founded in 2008, is a global movement of youth and families, dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in divided societies around the world. Kids4Peace operates international summer camps, leadership programs and a six-year, year-round program for more than 500 Palestinian, Israeli and North American youth.

 

Your willingness to work with us and our students on the fundamental skills of being present with each other and of being authentic amongst each other is very appreciated. One teacher reported a noticeable shift in the student dynamics toward less tension and more cohesion. A student reported that although the work was hard and uncomfortable at times, it did make the friendships stronger and the communication better amongst the peers.

Jamie Ginter
Counselor, Big Picture School

Big Picture School, (http://www.bsd405.org/bigpicture/). The Big Picture Learning design is a dynamic approach to learning, doing, and thinking that has been changing the lives of students, educators, and entire communities since 1995. The design components are based on three foundation principles: first, learning must be based on the interests and goals of each student; second, student’s curriculum must be relevant to the people and places that exist in the real world; and finally, a student’s abilities must be authentically measured by the quality of her or his work.

 

You are one of the best listeners I have ever come across. I experience what it is like to be intensely heard and understood, and to know that you consider deeply what I say before responding. These are rare and powerful skills, and you are able to apply them with everyone.

You are enormously passionate and compassionate, and you communicate that clearly. People know you care about them; both how they feel and what they have to say. This gives you a lot of power, when supporting parties in conflict situations or when you advocate for the best interests of others.

You are skilled at helping people hear and understand one another. You are able to get people to listen not only to you, but also to one another, even when they are coming from very different places.

You are very persistent, but in a broad, flexible way such that you constantly strive to get more information and are open to embracing different perspectives. In other words, you don’t get stuck on an idea. When you are presented with new and different information, you absorb it and change your mind without fighting to hold on to your earlier beliefs, and you move to find the outcome that is best for everyone.

Don Miner, MSW
CASA Supervisor, King County Superior Court CASA Program

King County Superior Court CASA Program, (https://www.kingcountycasa.org/). As part of King County Superior Court, the Dependency CASA Program strives to provide high quality best interest advocacy for children who have experienced abuse or neglect and to promote the safety, permanence and well-being of children in King County.

 

I see Pam as someone who beautifully and powerfully combines a profound determination to contribute to others with the will power, courage, skills and knowledge necessary to do it.

François Beausoleil, MBA
Director, Executive Stamina - Canada
Certified Trainer, Center for Nonviolent Communication

Executive Stamina, Canada, (http://www.executivestamina.com/canada/). Executive Stamina helps many of the most successful leaders and athletes harness the energy of elite endurance sport to find alignment in their professional and personal lives.