Session 1: Polarities and Resistance: Creating an Inclusive and Sustainable Approach to Change
January 23, 2018

Do you tire of having many diversity initiatives, none of which last long enough to make real change? Do you often feel backed into a corner, defending the importance of D&I? Do you understand the fears of those who block inclusion so you can both support and nudge them to change?


As a diversity change agent, you will learn how to handle these situations and many more when you understand Polarity Thinking.  All of us have been trained to think in either/or terms and to solve problems.   Either we use the masculine way of leading OR we use the feminine.  Either we use familiar ways of building and leading teams OR we launch into unknown territory with diverse teams and fear failure.  Either we are timid about engaging those of different genders and races or we speak our mind and fear reprisals.


Polarity Thinking teaches us to think and communicate in Both/And terms. We can have BOTH masculine AND feminine leadership styles, similar AND diverse teams, diplomatic AND direct conversations.  In fact, the research is clear—leaders, teams, and organizations that leverage Polarities well both outperform those that don’t and have sustainable change, whether the focus is strategic planning, restructuring, or D&I.


While problems have a best solution, Polarities are interdependent values, both of which are needed to achieve a higher purpose.  Commonalities AND Differences are a polarity, both needed for sustainable change.  If we focus only on commonalities, we ignore differences, losing talent and building resentment.  If we focus only on differences, we have little common ground to abate our fears and recognize our needs as human beings.


With the knowledge from this session you will be able to do the following:

  • Understand the basics of Polarity Theory

  • Distinguish between a problem to solve and a polarity to leverage. 

  • Use the Polarity Map to understand and communicate multiple values and fears, especially with regard to diversity and inclusion.

  • Leverage a polarity—getting the best of both values—by creating actions steps and early warnings.

Continue your learning with the after session resources.

Presenters: Cherie Buckner-Webb and Lindsay Burr

Cherie, Senior Consultant with the Yarbrough Group is an acknowledged leader with extensive business background including positions in organizational development, operations, human resources, diversity, program management, sales, marketing, business development and e-commerce. Her expertise includes cross cultural collaboration, leadership development, facilitation, consultation and coaching for individuals, teams and organizations. She has utilized her broad consultative skills both as an internal and external provider in the corporate environment internationally, in work with institutions of higher learning, federal, state and city government and with a wide range of non-profit organizations.  She has a proven track record in working with a broad client population, including those located in Latin America, Europe, Africa, Canada and the U.S.


Cherie, a certified professional coach holds a B.S. degree in Management and Organizational Leadership from George Fox University, a Masters of Social Work from Northwest Nazarene University and a wealth of additional training and certifications in specific disciplines that support her work.  She brings 30+ years of experience in management positions with Fortune 500 companies to her coaching/consulting practice.

She has served in the Idaho Legislature since 2010.  Elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2010, and to the Idaho Senate in 2012, 2014 and 2016 by a wide margin, Cherie currently serves as Assistant Minority Leader in the Idaho State Senate.  Additionally, she is a respected speaker who is in high demand for her presentations addressing a wide range of topics relevant to public, private, academic and government sectors.

Lindsay, Partner with The Yarbrough Group, focuses on developing the next generation of leadership, bringing in the perspective of women and the experience of generations X and Y.  She leads training in interpersonal, group, and organizational conflict resolution techniques; facilitates team development, and strategic planning; and coaches individuals so they can reach their full potential.


Lindsay graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in Political Science and has her Masters from George Mason University School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR). Her studies have focused on engaging women in peace building processes in post-conflict context. She is a graduate of the Mastery level class of Polarity Thinking. 


The majority of her work has been articulating the underlying motivation for peoples’ political involvement.  Previously, she worked as the Senior Program Assistant for Governance at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) based in Washington, DC.  Lindsay also served as the Development Director for the Center for the Study of Gender and Conflict at George Mason University and a Researcher for the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars Global Women’s Leadership Initiative (GWLI). Her background is in political campaigns and the impacts of policy. Currently she is consulting with the Women’s Forum (United Nations) on how to rejuvenate women’s leadership in western Europe.


Lindsay lives in Washington DC with her dog Sterling.




NWDLS is Managed by:  The Institute for Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion (ISDI)


ISDI is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of educating, supporting and collaborating with key stakeholders on ways to leverage differences and practice inclusion to enhance individual and organizational success.  


ISDI was founded in 2015 and assumed the management of the Northwest Diversity Learning Series in 2016, formerly managed by Archbright. Barbara Deane, the original NW Series co-founder, and Effenus Henderson, retired Chief Diversity Officer, Weyerhaeuser are the co-founders and directors of the Institute.  This is the 20th year of the NWDLS!


JOIN US in 2018 as ISDI celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the NW Diversity Learning Series:


(Please note: the order of topics and titles may shift slightly as we work with presenters.)


Session 2:  Religious Dominance - Religious Pluralism: Understanding Un-Discussed Polarity, March 14

Session 3:  Power & Privilege: Addressing Loss, Striving for Equity, May 9

Session 4:  Free Speech, Hate Speech, Political Correctness: Striving for Civility & Respect, June 19


Session 5:  Us and Them: Navigating the Multicultural Divides, September 26

Session 6:  Native Americans: Undoing the Last Acceptable Racism, November 14