Facilitator certification – what’s it like, and is it worthwhile?

Free facilitation webinar: Facilitator certification - what's it like, and is it worthwhile?Are you interested to learn more about facilitation, and ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) in particular – in a free, one-hour, interactive online session that offers an experience of virtual facilitation as well? Register now on Eventbrite for this next in my series of free facilitation webinars.


Facilitator certification – what’s it like, and is it worthwhile?

Wednesday 7 February 2018, 15.00 UK time 

In this session we will look at what it takes to achieve professional certification as a facilitator, and what are the advantages of doing so. We will explore the two leading and internationally recognised, competency-based certifications – IAF Certified Professional Faciliator (CPF) and ICA Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF).

I shall be joined for this session by Lindsay Sumner CPF, IAF Director of Certification Operations; Alexey Svetlichny CTF, Director of ICA Ukraine; and again by Sunny Walker CPF CTF of the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative.

Lindsay was among the first to gain the CPF designation, in the UK in 1998, and she has managed the CPF programme for IAF since 2006. ICA Ukraine is the first ICA in Europe to offer CTF certification, and Alexey became one of the first CTFs in Europe in 2014. Sunny is an assessor for both CPF and CTF programmes, a founding member of IAF and one of the founders of ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP).

We will invite you to share some of your own experience of certification, and to respond with us to questions that are raised.

Each session in this series is hosted in Adobe Connect for a highly interactive learning experience. Each topic is addressed by a short case study or other presentation, with links to further online material for later reference. In the sessions we apply tools and techniques of virtual facilitation to help participants to engage with the material and the presenter, and with their own and each other’s experience on the topic. A short technical orientation directly before the session introduces the features of the virtual meeting room, and the tools to be used. A brief closing reflection at the end of the session invites reflection and learning on the facilitation process and virtual tools, as well as on the content of the session.

Register now on Eventbrite. To whet your appetite, check out this short 2014 video clip from US ToP trainer and CTF & CPF assessor Barbara McKay of Northstar Facilitators, and this new 2017 clip from IAF on it’s forthcoming, diversified ‘Propath’ approach to certification:


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

ICAI welcomes a new Associate member in Poland!

ICAI Global Buzz, October 2015
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, November 2016.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


anna-zaremba-1200x900Seventeen representatives of 11 member ICAs of our global network participated in two online General Assembly meetings on October 20, and 16 of 24 current statutory member ICAs voted in the online GA poll over the following ten days to 30 October.  Thank you again to all who participated!

As a result of the GA we are pleased to welcome another new Associate member to ICAI, nominated by ICA:UK with the support of ICA Ukraine & ICA Netherlands and approved unanimously by the GA – Focus Homini Poland is a newly constituted group of five ICA colleagues working to establish ICA in Poland – the photo shows Anna Zaremba facilitating at one of the group’s Warsaw facilitation meetups.

Also as a result of the GA we are pleased to congratulate Archana Deshmukh of ICA India and Gerd Luders of ICA Chile, who have been unanimously elected to our global Board from January (from 2017-20), and to Seva Gandhi of ICA USA who has been re-elected to serve another two years (2017-18).  Archana and Gerd will succeed Martin Gilbraith of ICA:UK and Staci Kentish of ICA Canada, who will complete their terms this December.

During the GA meetings members also received brief narrative & financial reports from the Board, and deliberated on the ICAI 2017-18 budget, the Board nominations process and options for a future ICAI global conference.

ICA International Board update, September 2014

ICAI Global Buzz, Sseptember 2014
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, September 2014.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


The ICAI Board at its August meeting reviewed the progress and status of several ICAI working groups which are now underway or getting established.  The Technology of Participation (ToP) global policy working group is now consulting with ICAI members and ToP facilitation & training providers worldwide on the draft global ToP policy paper that it had presented to the June General Assembly.  A diverse and experienced team of ten ICA representatives have now accepted nominations to join the new ICAI Global Conference working group that was agreed at the June General Assembly, in order to work with prospective host ICAs to present one or more strong proposals for hosting a 2016 global conference (or conferences) for vote at the December General Assembly.  Nominations are now invited to join the continuing members of the ICAI Board nominations and elections committee, and/or to stand for election to the Board itself next year, in preparation for an election at the December General Assembly to four Board positions coming vacant from January – Vice President Africa, Vice President Asia Pacific, Vice President Americas and Treasurer.  Staci Kentish, Seva Gandhi and I will continue as VP Communications, Secretary and President respectively.

Since the General Assembly clarified criteria for ICAI Associate membership in June, the Board noted expressions of interest in August from prospective new members in Ghana, Korea, Russia and the Phillipines.  We plan to agree a simple new form and process in September for these and/or other nominations to be made formal in time for vote at the December General Assembly.

No further formal requests had yet been received for ICAI financial support toward member initiatives for peer-to-peer support and collaboration, however there is interest from some ICAs wishing to attend the ICA European Interchange to be hosted by ICA Spain near Madrid in November.   Around 20 representatives of ICAs in Latin America have been able to benefit already from ICAI financial support for online training in Spanish on online ToP facilitation using the Adobe Connect platform.

Aziz Rahman at #UNNGO2014We are grateful to Aziz Rahman of ICA Bangladesh for travelling to New York this month to attend the 65th United Nations NGO Conference on behalf of ICAI, on the theme “2015 and beyond: our action agenda”.  Aziz was one of 4,000 registered to attend from over 900 NGOs in 100 countries.

We are grateful also for the editorial team and contributors to the August edition of ICAI’s Winds & Waves magazine “Back to the Future“, which features a series of articles related to the work of ICA’s Global Archives Project (GAP).

The Board agreed to present certificates of appreciation from ICAI to the more than 20 international ToP facilitators and others who had contributed to the successful and high profile Ukraine PEACE Summit of ICA Ukraine in Kiev in July.

ICAI Winds and Waves – Networking

ICAI Winds and Waves, April 2014 - coverThis article was written for ICAI Winds and Waves, April 2014.

Welcome to this latest issue of Winds & Waves, the online magazine of ICA International.

While many international NGOs have shifted from a more centralised to a more networked approach to their operations in recent years, ICA has operated globally as a network of autonomous and independent national NGOs for over half of its 50 years. Many member ICAs themselves operate as networks, both nationally and internationally, and many individuals around the world remain connected and involved with ICA in various ways long after they have moved on from a formal role within an ICA organisation. Such loose and diverse structures with such ‘leaky boundaries’ can be challenging in some respects, not least in terms of governance. However, they can also enable greater local relevance, responsiveness and self-reliance in conjunction with greater global connectedness, learning and mutual support. Networking is one of the ways by which these advantages can be realised, and so supporting networking among ICAs and ICA colleagues is central to the role of ICA International and networking makes a fitting theme for this issue.

Within these pages you will find stories and reports from individual ICA colleagues and from national ICAs, on their work of research, training and demonstration to advance human development worldwide. Networking and a networked approach feature strongly in many of them.

Terry Bergdall in Chicago reports on the Sustainability Leaders Network of ICA USA’s Accelerate 77 programme, empowering community leaders from across the city by supporting them to ‘connect, align and produce’ together. Lorraine Margherita in Paris reflects on the role that networking has played for her as she has established herself as a professional facilitator within the emerging ICA network there. Larry Philbrook in Taipei reveals the findings of a recent research initiative conducted through ICA networks, online and face to face. Gerald Gomani in Harare reports on ICA Zimbabwe’s work helping communities fight HIV/AIDS – this work has been supported over many years by ICAI network partners in the USA, Canada and the UK among others, and networks people living with HIV with each other and with local health and social service resources. Charles Jago in Australia writes of an online networked approach to holding government and politicians accountable by ‘asking real questions’. Ishu Subha in Kathmandu writes of the network power of a local women’s group that grew to a leading financial institution. Teresa Sosa in Caracas writes of how principles and values she has learned from ICA have enabled her to gain strength from networks to strive re-create a country in times in chaos.

The global network of ICA International now comprises member ICAs and related groups and organisations in 40 countries worldwide. We welcomed ICA Ukraine as our newest statutory member at our ICAI online General Assembly in December. I have been privileged these last few weeks to serve as a mentor to one of ICA Ukraine’s ToP facilitation trainers, Natasha Karpova, and to learn something of how she and ICA are working to network diverse actors in Ukraine, another country in a time of some chaos, to re-envisage and rebuild their country’s future together.  It was a privilege also (and fun!) to help to network ICA Ukraine’s facilitators with Russian facilitators attending the Moscow Facilitators conference this month, by exchanging real-time Facebook updates between my post-conference ToP strategic planning course in Moscow and Natasha’s simultaneous ToP strategic planning course in Lviv.

Moscow facilitators study the ToP Participatory Strategic Planning by planning ‘What can we do over the next 3 years to promote a culture of participation in our organisations?’

Moscow facilitators learned the ToP Participatory Strategic Planning process this month by planning ‘What can we do over the next 3 years to promote a culture of participation in our organisations?’

Meanwhile ICA Ukraine’s initiative connecting mentor ToP facilitators from ICA’s global network with mentees in Ukraine prompted Larry Philbrook of ICA Taiwan to adapt and apply the model globally, attracting so far 25 mentors and 36 mentees – just the sort of peer-to-peer initiative within the ICA network that ICAI seeks to support.

The ICAI Board updated its Business Plan for 2014 in the last month, in light of the experience of 2013 and discussions and decisions at the December General Assembly, and supporting peer-to-peer networking for mutual support and collaboration remains at the heart of our approach. Whatever the extent and nature of your relationship to ICA or ICAI, if you share our collective concern with ‘the human factor in world development’ then please join in networking with us.

Please share this issue of Winds & Waves and consider contributing to the next, please connect and share with us online via ICAI on Facebook and @ICAI on twitter, and please connect directly with whichever national ICA of the ICAI global network is closest to you in your geography or in your passion.

Enjoy this issue!