The IDEA Circle


September 28, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

In Spring of 2020, the Listening Tour Working Group, now known as the IDEA Circle (Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Awareness), formed under the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The IDEA Circle sought ways to provide the Berea College campus with a framework for having difficult dialogue across difference, especially ahead of the presidential election season.  Later that year, the IDEA Circle trained and became certified through the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. The Winter Institute training taught the IDEA Circle its Welcome Table ™ model for building strong relationships and community at Berea College through open facilitated dialogue across differences in race, class, gender, sexuality and other aspects of identity. The Winter Institute developed the Welcome Table™ model through decades of working in Mississippi communities that dealt with the legacy of racial trauma.

The Welcome Table™ is designed to help create relational trust, unity, teamwork, and cohesiveness in a group of community members, with the aim of fostering inclusion and building equity. The IDEA Circle’s use of the Welcome Table™ approach will allow our campus community to:

  • Understand the importance of listening, storytelling, and relationship building to produce real change.
  • Develop better communication skills to improve our communities and organizations.
  • Re-examine College policies, procedures and practices relevant to diversity, equity and inclusion in our work environment. As an outcome, the group may consider advocating changes by directing proposals for changes to responsible entities in our campus governance system.

Facilitated IDEA Circle sessions create a safe space for people who have different perspectives. Trust and deep listening are the foundation of each session, therefore, perspectives shared will remain confidential (legal exceptions apply). During each session all participants and facilitators will agree to remain non-judgmental.

The IDEA Circle sessions will be offered through Zoom during the 2021-2022 academic year. Each IDEA Circle cohort will attend six facilitated meetings for two hours each. IDEA Circle sessions will be based on the availability of our facilitators. Beth Taylor, Program Assistant for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, will announce IDEA Circle facilitation dates and times. Once this information is announced, please be sure to sign up individually or as a group. Each group will not exceed 10 participants. All IDEA Circle facilitators are excited to provide this community building exercise and look forward to working with our campus community.


Dwayne A. Mack

Dwayne A. Mack, Ph.D.

Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

IDEA Circle Facilitators

Channell Barbour, Vice President for Student Life

Ashley Cochrane, Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service

Brad Cole, Director of Public Safety

Sam Cole, Senior Administrative Assistant for the Office of Academic Affairs

Gus Gerassimides, Associate Vice President for Student Life

Josh Johnston, Therapist for the Office of Counseling Services

Dwayne Mack, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Sam Milligan, Donor Communications Associate for Alumni, Communications and Philanthropy

Shannon Roberts-Smith, Program Associate for Partners for Education

Beth Taylor, Program Assistant for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Title VII/IX

Joel Wilson, Psychotherapist for the Office of Counseling Services


Please address questions to:

Beth Taylor, Program Assistant for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Title VII/IX    859-985-3377

2021-2022 Sessions adapted from the Community and Capacity Building Team of the William Winter Institute ™ Additional information about the Winter Institute can be found at