Staff

shakti-headshot2013-172x172

Shakti Butler, PhD

Founder & President

Bring Dr. Shakti Butler to your organization or conference

Shakti Butler, PhD, filmmaker and Founder & President of World Trust, is a dynamic educator in the field of diversity and racial equity. Dr. Butler engages audiences with participatory keynotes and workshops, often using clips from her films. Known as a catalyst for change, she is hired by organizations seeking broader support for their diversity & inclusion goals.

Shakti Butler is a multiracial African-American woman (African, Arawak Indian, and Russian-Jewish) whose work as a creative and visionary bridge builder has challenged and inspired learning for over two decades. She is the producer and director of groundbreaking documentaries including The Way Home, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, and Light in the Shadows. Her latest film Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity uses story, theater and music to illuminate the larger frame of structural/systemic racial inequity.

Read More

Seminars, Keynotes & Presentations

Dr. Butler is an inspirational facilitator, trainer, lecturer and Jefferson Award recipient. Her work emerges from years of self-exploration and her commitment to social justice. Dr. Butler’s services are sought after by schools, universities, public and private organizations, and faith-based institutions. More on workshops and presentations.
Dr. Butler invites her audience to grapple with both the intellectual and emotional complexities of race. She conveys the interconnection between internal and external/structural components of racial inequity, and reveals how self-perpetuating systems reinforce disparities in institutions. This framing, along with the use of Butler’s films, set the context for constructive conversation. Dr. Butler inspires a collective will and develops deeper, cohesive understanding that can be directly applied to analysis and action.

A warm and compassionate person, Butler uses her ability to listen deeply while asking critical questions that support self-directed learning in others. Her speaking and teaching styles enrich people’s abilities to expand their capacities for building community, an important first step in effecting change. Group dialogue, self-inquiry, reflection and whole body learning by participants are some of the strategies she employs in diversity and inclusion events.

Dr. Butler received her doctorate from the California Institute of Integral Studies in the School of Transformative Learning and Change. She holds an MA in Guidance and Counseling from Bank Street College of New York and graduated magna cum laude from City College of New York.

Read Less
FullSizeRender

Dia Penning

Director of Curriculum and Education

Dia Penning, in addition to being a facilitator, serves as the Director of Curriculum & Education for World Trust.  Dia designs Racial Equity Learning Modules, which offer transformative and creative ways for educators to engage people in community building and learning about systemic racism.

As a diversity workshop facilitator, Dia brings the following strengths:

More

  • She knows how to challenge assumptions without evoking guilt or shame.
  • She asks questions that lead to transformative thinking.
  • She is a calm and inviting presence that makes people feel okay with confronting difficult or unpleasant ideas about themselves.
Read More

“Dia is a brilliant educator,” says Shakti Butler, Founder of World Trust. “Her background in the arts brings creativity to her style of workshop facilitation, and tremendous depth to the Racial Equity Learning Modules we design together. “

Recommendation from a World Trust Client

“Dia has been a wonderful partner in helping us explore different ways to approach the subjects of oppression and institutional racism!” says Laurie Lober, Clinical Director for the Ann Martin Center in Oakland, California. Dia has facilitated three training sessions with the staff at Ann Martin and is helping them to coordinate a yearlong diversity initiative.

“She is able not only to focus on individual experiences and big picture dynamics but also to move fluidly between these two ends of the spectrum,” Lober continues. “She shows great flexibility, creativity, and knowledge about the best ways to work with a large staff group, and we appreciate her guidance in approaching staff training.

“She’s been so helpful in guiding the pace of our conversation about white privilege and race. She is respectful, inviting, non-judgmental and open. She makes people feel safe in difficult territory.”

Dia’s Work with World Trust

Dia has conducted single day workshops for the Lincoln Child Center and the Oakland Unified School District. She is engaged in an ongoing initiative to build awareness about racial issues to the 75-member staff of the Ann Martin Center, an organization that provides psychotherapy and both clinical and educational assessment for at-risk youths.

“Building a longer term relationship with an organization lets everyone go deeper into the issues,” Dia explains.

In this case, white and staff members of color are learning to have authentic conversations, a process that will ultimately help the white staff to work more effectively with the youths in their programs. Dia is engaged in ongoing assessment of the Center’s needs in order to develop an effective plan for continuing the conversation.

“Holding the Paradox”: A Closer Look at Dia’s Methodology

At the Ann Martin Center, Dia is working with a staff that has considerable awareness about racism but doesn’t feel comfortable with day-to-day discussions about race. “People like this,” she says, “tend to believe they are not affected. When they are able to make the leap [to seeing that they are part of system], they feel some shame.”

She explains how one of the social workers had a “yucky” insight during a workshop. She realized that she benefited from systemic racism. It paid her bills. She wondered how she could reconcile her desire to change the world with that personal benefit.

“This is the paradox,” Dia says.

“I let people hold the paradox,” Dia says, likening this process to yoga practice. “It’s like that middle point between hard work and relaxation when you are holding a pose.” Using breath work to relieve tension, Dia encourages people to examine their role in institutional racism without distancing themselves emotionally — to make them “comfortable with the discomfort of the situation.”

Finding that balance — between comfort and discomfort, margin and center — has been a lifelong process for Dia.

“Growing up a child of color in a white household with two moms,” she says, “I learned early on that points of difference invoke a crazy amount of injustice. Thus, I have a commitment to the belief that we are all one. [My goal] is to remove the blinders that divide us so that we can see that we are in the same boat. What pulls one down pulls everyone down.”

More About Dia

Dia has over 15 years of experience as a facilitator and a long career in the field of education, developing curricula at institutions like the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Department of Cultural Affairs in Chicago. She is a certified yoga instructor who founded My Prana Project, a group that offers sliding scale and community yoga for start-ups, non-profits, and the self-employed.

 

Read Less
Abi

Abi Chandler

Outreach Coordinator

Abi grew up steeped in social justice and racial equity activism and is thrilled her work life can support her deepest convictions. Abi majored in Business Marketing at San Jose State University. After graduating she spent 10 years abroad with her lovely children and husband as he played professional basketball overseas. She has now returned to her marketing roots at World Trust and works closely with the whole team and most recently has relaunched our website and presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Aimee R

Aimee Reeder

Director of Operations

Aimee has worked with small businesses for more than a decade to streamline their administrative functioning. As an activist for social justice she brings a firm belief that authentic connection leads to lasting change. She is excited that her marketing skills can support the racial equity work of World Trust and its facilitators. She is incredibly grateful to work with such an inspiring group of artists, truth-speakers, educators, visionaries and pioneers at World Trust who are making the world a more equitable place for future generations, one connection at a time.

Ginny Berson

Ginny Berson

Director of Outreach

Ginny Z Berson runs Justice and Community, an independent consultng company working to further social justice and build community. She spent 30 years working in public/community radio including Vice President & Director of Federation Services for the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. She is a founder of Olivia Records, the first national women’s recording company. And she is committed to making the world a better place by confronting and challenging prevailing power relationships.

krista alderson

Krista Alderson

Director of Development

Through the belief that there are more than enough resources to build a world that works for everyone, Krista creates development programs that encourage true engagement and long-term commitment to social justice for donors and funders. Krista has worked in the non-profit sector for over 15 years and for four years served as the Executive Director at the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic in Oakland, California.

Marilyn Maolina

Marilyn Molina

Development Associate

Marilyn is currently majoring in Marketing at San Francisco State University. She has a strong passion for racial equality and peace in our world. She moved to the United States from El Salvador when she was 10 years old. Today, Marilyn is grateful to have the opportunity to work with a group of wonderful people that have the same vision as her to bring peace into our world. Marilyn supports us in the development department by bringing ideas to aware donors and funders of the positive impact they can have in our society.

michelle cooper

Michelle Cooper

Administrative Coordinator

Michelle brings several years of administrative, organizational, and public service skills to her role at World Trust. She has provided support for non-profit funding, anti-poverty programs, and initiatives to bring resources to marginalized communities & individuals.