Who I Am
I am deeply concerned about the state of our planet, our relationships, our politics, our communities and our organisations. I am contributing the best I can, with skills and insights learnt along the way, to nurture group and organisational cultures where collaboration is the norm and where the concept of nonviolence finds practical applications. I am French, grew up in Africa, settled in Scotland 20 years ago and am married to writer and activist Alastair McIntosh.
I love learning. I thrive on helping people 'walk home', find clarity and empowerment, and put in place personal and organisational strategies to nurture collaborative, nonviolent ways of living and working.
Some projects I have worked on over the years:
- Teaching on and co-ordinating a master's degree in Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde;
- Tutoring on the Training for Transformation diploma course in South Africa;
- Working alongside Black and Ethnic Minority communities in Scotland to explore the meaning of empowerment;
- Teaching eco-feminism in the community;
- Co-organising field visits for a group of planners from the province of Papua in Indonesia to learn about grassroots empowerment;
- Facilitating conversations about the future of health and social care provision in Govan;
- Participating in the creation of a global organisation for the Nonviolent Communication community entirely built on principles of collaboration and self-management.
Present projects involve:
- Helping teams from the Church of Scotland's most deprived parishes to work well together;
- Writing a book on the topic of Scotland becoming a collaborative nation;
- Co-holding an apprenticeship programme with my mentor Miki Kashtan to equip practitioners around the world with skills and tools to nurture cultures of collaboration;
- Coaching individuals on topics such as delivering conflict resolution trainings in West Africa, facilitating a conflict resolution process with a local church in South Carolina and setting up a rural, community learning project in Ayrshire, Scotland.
- Teaching dialogue skills to politics students engaged in hosting spaces for respectful dialogue about the Israel/Palestine conflict on their campus;
I love the international nature of my work and am also deeply committed to Scotland which is now my home. My vision is to play a strategic role in helping Scotland become a collaborative nation.
As much as unfolding this outer vision is core to who I am, a great deal of my time is spent on deepening my inner life (through silent meditation, yoga, dance, writing and contact with nature). I believe cultivating a relaxed, present, creative and playful way of being is a political act. It creates alignment with life itself and counterbalances the paradigm of control and separation that rules our present world. Whilst I am inspired by many currents of thoughts and practice, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is the core organising principle of my life and work. I am a CNVC Certified Trainer. Other communities I belong to include the Quakers, Biodanza, 5 Rhythms and the Galgael Trust in Govan.
Why Work With Me
People work with me because they long for change. They know they have something meaningful to contribute but often lack some tools to make it a reality. Many are also frustrated by how hard it is to create buy-in around them and work collaboratively with others. Through our work together, my clients find a renewed purpose, deeper understanding of self and others, practices to transform life-alienating patterns and practical tools for collaboration.
I bring a relaxed presence, compassion and skilfulness. I have a clear understanding of what makes most inner habits and organisational structures so crippling to the soul. Based on feedback I have received over the years, I seem to be good at conveying intellectual concepts and inspiring principles, as well as take people on learning journeys and hold the space for transformative conversations. Perhaps most importantly, I am committed to walking my talk, am open to feedback and being stretched, and I deeply trust the wisdom that lives in me.
What I contribute to personal, organisational and wider societal challenges is, I believe, both practical and visionary.
What People Say
"Your session on leadership was a very different way of approaching the subject and I felt the participants really responded to it. The way you held us as a group and as individuals, challenged us, gently, and encouraged us to exploring new ideas and ways of thinking was very powerful. Your gift for facilitating is very impressive!"
Alison Goring – Project Manager – Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union, Scotland.
"Verene worked with us over two years to introduce collaborative leadership skills to local government in Indonesia. Her contribution opened new doors for people who had been traumatised by an authoritarian bureaucratic culture. Her teaching and mentoring equipped them with a deeper appreciation of the needs underpinning their own and other people’s behaviour within their organisation. They found ways to better express and accommodate these needs in their daily work, as well as better accept themselves and the people around them"
Adrian Wells, Director – Seventy Three consultancy, Indonesia and UK.
"Thoughtful and thought provoking, Verene has a wonderful ability to get people to push their boundaries of trust, empathy and communication in human interactions. Verene has a deep insight into human thinking and behaviour and, in my experience, one of the very few people who can model it through her own person and facilitation. Spending time with her has always been a joyful and learning time for me."
Noel Matthias, Director – Wevolution and formally Ministries Support Officer for the Church of Scotland’s Priority Area Parishes.
"Verene supported me to improve my communication when facing a very tricky situation with a Managing Board I was part of. She helped me "step out of my shoes" (my role), see the larger picture and understand how my organization's structure was affecting the interrelationships of people and how problems were stemming from that. I learnt to care for myself as well as the organisation. This is a gift I carry with me now."
Nati Beltran, Respectful Education Leader, Spain.