Beyond the Book Group is now:

Responding to Everyday Racism:
Skills for Effectively Challenging Racist Words and Ideas

A four-part workshop series with Itzel Hayward and Kathy Simon


Please check back soon to find out about the next time we'll be offering this series to the public. In the meantime, click here to enjoy a free introductory session.



About the Course

Oppression of people of color is embedded in social systems, not just in the behavior of individuals. The racial justice movement needs allies and advocates to confront and transform these systems as they play out in policies in education, politics, policing, corporations, and more.

In the day to day, allies and advocates are also called upon to address harmful behavior of individuals who are blatantly racist or who are upholding racist ideas—including family members, old friends, and co-workers.

Using practices and insights based on Nonviolent Communication, we’ll talk about the need to challenge racist words and ideas in everyday life, and how it can be done in a way that’s most likely to encourage individuals to change—or at least have openness to looking at beliefs and behavior. Perhaps counter-intuitively, we’ll start with ways of listening that can support true transformation.

The four-session series curriculum includes:

Session 1. Skills for listening—even when people say things that are hard to hear

Session 2. Skills for speaking about race and racism in ways that people who disagree with you can hear

Session 3. Our inner worlds: skills for holding our own reactions with acceptance

Session 4. Putting it all together: showing up in ways that transform the conversation

Each session will include time for supported practice.

Join us in learning how we can be truly effective allies and advocates for racial and social justice.



About the Trainers

After practicing law for over a decade, Itzel Hayward made the career move from lawyer to coach. Since then, Itzel has been sharing stress management techniques, collaboration skills, conflict resolution skills, and nonviolent communication skills with groups and individuals around the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of Itzel’s work is focused on anti-racism and communicating across difference and is based on the understanding that all people have the capacity for empathy and seeing each other’s full humanity. Click here to learn more.

Kathy Simon is passionate about teaching skills for communicating across difference, whether the differences arise across the kitchen table, in the classroom, the board room, or across religious, racial, and political divides. Kathy's work draws on the insights of Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and incorporates her decades of experience as an educator, non-profit director, parent, and partner. She is a certified trainer with the international Center for Nonviolent Communication. Click here to learn more.

Want to host this training at your organization?


What People Are Saying:

First George Floyd. The horror of those 8 minutes and 47 seconds were my epiphany. How could I have had my head in the sand for so long? I had just read the quote, “When black people are in pain, white people just join book groups”, and I had just joined a BLM focused book group thinking I needed to understand the situation better. And, also, what else could I do?. Then your email showed up. To start with, the name intrigued me. I started with NVC about twenty years ago. I thought this class might have answers for me and so it did. As an older white suburban woman, I couldn’t figure out how to make a difference and this class showed me a path. I can start change within my circle of white suburban women. It really does seem like the mustard seed that moves mountains. It is a place to begin and to make a difference, perhaps starting slowly, but moving powerfully. The time for change is long overdue, and Beyond the Bookgroup was the catalyst to move me from horror to positive action.

Thank you, Itzel and Kathy.

The Beyond the Book Group Series was challenging and made me think and work on myself, instead of just keeping it on the intellectual level with superficial exercises that happen in a lot of workshops about having difficult conversations or talking about race. Itzel and Kathy created a space where we could go into the mind of someone saying racist things and into our own mind as we were hearing it, slow down enough to really understand what was happening, and respond from the best part of ourselves. They also made it clear that the whole point is to make this world safer for Black people. It was powerful and real, so thank you Itzel and Kathy for your work!

KW, Bay Area

This class expanded my way of thinking and communicating. It was the perfect mix of thought-provoking content, repetition, and practice to make sure that we took away real skills. Each workshop really challenged me to grow, and at the same time, was enjoyable and something I looked forward to. Kathy and Itzel complement each other beautifully. Their energy and loving intent is contagious. Amazingly, Kathy and Itzel have created a safe and enjoyable space for people to really challenge themselves and grow.

Robin Rounaghi, parent / attorney, Laguna Beach

Absolutely everyone interested in living a rich life filled with love, relationships and worthwhile conversations should take this course. Beyond the focus on how to foster anti-racism conversations with empathy and compassion, the communication skills gained in this delightfully enlightening series will uplevel all interpersonal exchanges. I loved how Itzel and Kathy role played with humor and vulnerability so that we could feel comfortable doing the same and diving deeper with our coursemates. Working in a community-forward anti-racist organization, I'm planning on having this course be required training for my entire team.

Heather Anderson, Founder, The Mamahood

Kathy and Itzel are an amazing duo in facilitating learning about NVC and embracing an empowered stance to confront racism in our communities, relationships, and work world.

Miriam, Cincinnati

Kathy and Itzel are excellent teachers: thoughtful, passionate and full of helpful, practical skills to navigate difference. I highly recommend their program.

Claudia Bernard, Mediator/Trainer, Oakland, CA

I found this course with Kathy and Itzel to be so helpful and especially during this time of such division in our country.. I can see the power of deeply listening to the other person before attempting to express our beliefs...


This training helped me gain skills to have the many hard conversations that we need to have right now. It showed me a path toward standing up for what I feel is right and the courage to hope for common understanding.

Martin, Portland, OR

You need skills to do anything well. To be an ally and advocate for social change and social justice you need to learn these skills and practice them in a safe space. This program is IT.

Jane West Walsh, EdD Baltimore, MD

This series helped me build my courage to continue difficult conversations with other white people. The steps offered by Itzel and Kathy are easy to follow and there is a lot of encouragement to stay engaged in triggering situations.

Challenging but worthwhile process. I learned something about myself and how to interact with others, not only in regard to issues of racism but communication in general.

I'd highly recommend this opportunity to practice NVC in highly charged conversations. The fellowship with kindred spirits was also wonderful.

Julie, marketing professional, South Dakota

This course really helped me further investigate my own approach to conversations that hold opposing perspectives and offered some very practical approaches to how to navigate them more effectively.

As we look at the state of our country today with it's vastly divided opinions, Kathy and Itzel provide the framework and tools for beginning to connect from the heart with people whose views differ from our own.

J.C. retired manager, El Cerrito, CA

You can trust Kathy and Itzel to lead you through a magnificent workshop with skill and grace. At the end you will leave with the tools to help you stay connected and curious about your fellow citizens, as well as connected to self, during difficult conversations about race.

The Beyond the BookGroup series was transformative - a rewiring of my approach to difficult conversations that aligns with my desire to stay open and connected.

RH, Philanthropy, Seattle, Washington

This is such a great workshop series--Kathy and Itzel taught us ways to be comfortable with conversations that can be disconcerting!

Patrice Priya Wagner

A good start on the road of mindful, compassionate, and assertive communication about issues of racial injustice.

Tom C

In this era of division and polarization, learning the technique of NVC is such a valuable skill.  I highly recommend it to everyone.  

CSR, Educator, Newton, MA

Exactly what I need and what is needed now to be an activist woman in this world who responds to the needs of myself and others including all the children of the world. You give me hope; your teachings make room in my heart for the esperanza we all need to carry as we move forward, as we continue to take the steps into a loving future. Thank you so much.

Miyo Stevens

The tools I learned in the NVC series has transformed not only my thinking, but my ability to be authentic and attuned in my relationships (at work, at home, in my communities). Practical applications and the spacing of sessions on a weekly basis allows for participants to truly digest and test-out new practices in their lived realities.

This is a wonderful introduction to Non Violent Communication. The instructors and sessions are engaging and blend lecture, role play and participant practice in a short well paced hour long time frame. The course left me with a desire for more and positive feeling that this is something I can do to make a meaningful contribution.

Christine Gilbertson, Canada

Itzel and Kathy have such an accessible style of non-violent communication. I appreciate that they always demonstrate a calm and thoughtful demeanor that one can emulate in their own practice.

Kiyomi Kowalski, Anti-Racism Educator, Los Angeles

I felt empowered and encouraged to change the habits of my communication to be more effective.


Itzel and Kathi provide an opportunity to learn communication skills allowing for discussion of difficult topics with others who do not share one's perspective, in a way that allows for practice and learning effectively. It is about loving listening and speaking. Thank you!


The tools I learned in the NVC series has transformed not only my thinking, but my ability to be authentic and attuned in my relationships (at work, at home, in my communities). Practical applications and the spacing of sessions on a weekly basis allows for participants to truly digest and test-out new practices in their lived realities.


I've discovered that the centering of connection and being in relationship with one another is the only way we can move the work of anti-racism forward. If we don't take the time to discover what connects us to one another, then we can never engage in the deeper, more meaningful work of social justice.

Elizabeth, University Professor

This course has the potential to change the world! Kathy and Itzel were wonderful with teaching, role modeling, and supporting everyone's learning. I am walking away confident in having difficult and worthwhile conversations that can potentially lead to compassion and understanding on both sides of the aisle.

Morgan, Portland, OR