Ro Horton is co-founder of the UNtraining, with Rita Shimmin and co-director with Janet Carter. Raised as a white man, Ro has a passionate interest in undoing racism and a belief that this process begins with oneself. Ro has been working with Rita Shimmin since 1994, studying her approach to multi-dimensionality which she calls Racism, Diversity and Risk of the Self. The UNtraining is based on their work together. Ro studied Process Work with Arnold Mindell and has practiced Tibetan Buddhism for more than 30 years.
Ro has led on-going private UNtraining groups since 1995. They train and mentor UNtraining teachers, and continue to develop the curriculum. Ro has made presentations and led workshops at numerous schools and organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, including JFK University, Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, Berkeley Shambhala Center, San Joaquin Delta College, Berkeley Psychotherapy Institute, and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Ro is also a musician, artist and poet. See more at https://www.roberthortontheboot.com.
Janet Carter has been a participant in the UNtraining since it began and is now co-director. Her focus is outreach and communications. Janet is a writer, editor. historical researcher and educator. She is currently writing a book called Good Little White Girl, investigating her personal, family and cultural heritage as an exploration of how the "white training" is handed down. She is a Phase 1 mentor teacher, Phase 2 co-teacher, and facilitates Phase 3 of UNtraining White Liberal Racism. Janet also leads writing workshops to explore whiteness. Check out her blog Good Little White Girl.
Caren Ohlson, LMFT, is Assistant Director and a seasoned teacher in the UNtraining, having worked with Ro Horton and Rita Shimmin for over ten years. She teaches multiple groups and plays a key role in curriculum development and community building. Caren first became aware of racism at age 11 and has been committed to re-humanizing herself and working toward justice ever since.
In addition to her training with Ro & Rita, Caren is trained as a somatic therapist & educator through Generative Somatics, Strozzi Institute & the SFSU Counseling Graduate program. She has spent the last two decades working in public schools and non-profit organizations with children, teens and adults. She currently runs a small private somatic therapy practice in the bay area, offering therapy and somatic bodywork to people who are seeking to align their personal healing with making a strong contribution to community and society. You can find out more through her website www.carenmft.com.
Rhonda Cervantes was trained in cross-cultural, conflict, and mindful facilitation techniques while working for The Color of Fear director Lee Mun Wah in the late 1990's and early 2000's. She was a cast member in Lee's documentary Last Chance for Eden, a film about nine men and women discussing the issues of racism and sexism in the workplace. She later collaborated with the late Roberto Almanzán and Rainbow Markell to develop and produce the program "Unlearning Homophobia and Heterosexism." Rhonda joined the UNtraining in the late '90's to look more deeply at white conditioning. She served as a teaching assistant in 2009-10 and is thrilled to return to the teaching team in 2019. Rhonda is in a multi-racial family with her spouse and their (mostly grown) seven children.
Mollie Crittendenhas worked as a K-12 educator for more than twenty years. After majoring in Ethnic Studies, earning two teaching credentials and a Masters Degree in Education, she has been a bilingual elementary school teacher and, most recently, taught at the high school level. She infuses her understanding of systemic racism and different aspects of oppression in the teaching she does. She is also a certified integral life coach, and works individually with people in their process of transformational unfolding. You can find out more about Mollie’s life coaching practice here.
Mollie has presented at the White Privilege Conference, and leads white affinity spaces to support other teachers and life coaches in examining how racism and white conditioning manifest in the personal and professional realms. Mollie is the mother of two biracial, African-American boys. She practices meditation, connects with nature regularly, and volunteers with non-profit organizations in the Bay Area. Mollie is committed to embodying love, compassion, healing, and connection in all the work she does.
Swan Keyes, LMFT, is a psychotherapist, consultant, and racial justice educator dedicated to dismantling white supremacy and other forms of oppression. She has been engaged with the UNtraining since 1997 and has taught all levels of the UNtraining, helped develop UNtraining curriculum, and trained new teachers. She delivers workshops nationally, addressing intersecting social oppressions at colleges, universities, spiritual organizations, and other institutions and has developed and delivered programs for government leaders, police chiefs and officers.Swan is the senior teacher for Phase 1 and Phase 2 groups in New England (Western Massachusetts). She facilitates Phase 3 online. Check out her website "Unlearning Oppression"here.
Deborah Marks is a somatics practitioner and teacher of Rosen Method bodywork and movement. She has also been trained in Somatic Experiencing for working with trauma and PTSD. She attends Quaker Meeting, and has lived in a collective household for more than 30 years. White, owning-class, female and Jewish, Deborah has been learning about privilege and oppression from many directions. She is joyously committed to allyship with other white people in unlearning our white training. She is a Phase 1 mentor teacher and a co-facilitator for Phase 3 of UNtraining White Liberal Racism.
Rae Mary worked in the field of affordable housing for many years, including a stint as the Director of the Housing Department of the City of Dallas, Texas, and retired from the City of Oakland, California, where she oversaw the programs for hunger and homelessness. She is a long time housing advocate, and civil rights and feminist activist. Her participation in the UNtraining since 1997 arose from her increasing awareness of her own unconsciousness about her white racist training and the adverse impact it had on others. She works in many areas toward a world where we honor the needs of everyone as well as the resources of our planet. Rae was a teaching assistant from 2000 through 2005 and has been a teacher since then. In 2005 she moved to the Midwest where she grew up, and as a Senior Teacher is bringing the UNtraining for white folks to the area where she lives, Rock Island, Illinois, one of the Quad Cities, which also include Davenport, Iowa; Bettendorf, Iowa; and Moline, Illinois.
Gregory Mengel,PhD, is an educator and group facilitator working at the confluence of the social, spiritual, and ecological crises of our time. For over a decade, Gregory has been helping individuals and groups connect to their own inherent potential for healing and transformation. In addition to serving as senior teacher with the UNtraining, Gregory is cofounder of Beyond Separation and co-creator of men’s program called Masculinity After Patriarchy. Besides leading classes and workshops, Gregory occasionally writes on whiteness and racial equity. Gregory has written for The Good Men Project and The Body is Not an Apology. He also blogs occasionally on Medium and Cosmology of Whiteness.
Jessie Murphy joined the UNtraining in 2008 out of a desire to examine and actively disrupt her own biases and complicity in white supremacy. Her professional life has centered around the public health impacts of racism and other systems of oppression. She currently works for an LGBTQ+ community health organization where she oversees clinical compliance and quality management for their behavioral and sexual health services. Jessie is a teacher for Phase 1 of UNtraining White Liberal Racism.
Kathleen Rice initially joined The UNtraining in 2000, hoping to find the magic trick that she could use to get other white people to end racism and white supremacy. That’s not what she got. Instead, she found something more multidimensional, compassionate, sustainable, effective, challenging, and fulfilling. She found support for deeply feeling the pain of injustice, and how it has harmed her and others. She found and helped build a community of support that is committed to healing from racism and the White conditioning that keeps it going. So instead of fueling her already developed skills of self righteousness, guilt, shame and judgment, the UNtraining has supported her to feel love, intensity, anger, compassion, discomfort, confusion, fear, courage, playfulness, joy, and so much more in this work and in her life. Kathleen wholeheartedly enjoys leading Phases 1 and 2 of the UNtraining. Also, through Rooted Change Consulting, she serves as a consultant, facilitator, coach and trainer on issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice.
Teaching Assistants & Teachers-in-Training
Honora Russell started with the UNtraining in 2015. Investigation into how to responsibly raise her two White children in a predominantly White town brought her to the realization that she needed to work on herself first. Honora loves meeting and knowing people. She grieves that for so long she believed the social conditioning that taught her that there were whole “groups of people” that she should not develop relationships with, or even come in contact with. She continues to practice identifying the makeup of her learned “barriers”, and figuring out how to break (or sneak) through. Honora is committed to developing the ability to love all parts of herself and others. She feels deeply, cries easily, and loves to dance and make art. She is a pediatric occupational therapist specializing in Ayres Sensory Integration, and has a history of building wheelchairs. She lives in Sebastopol, CA with her husband, kids, guinea pigs, dog, and chickens.
Kari Kastango began her exploration into racism and her white conditioning in 2016 as part of a peer study group with fellow Buddhist practitioners. She is grateful for the UNtraining community since it is work that can't be done alone and for its curriculum that is not prescriptive because it is a personal exploration. Kari is committed to helping create and hold space so others can explore how racism and white conditioning has impacted their lives and the communities they belong to while continuing her own inquiry. Kari has been involved with UNtraining since 2019 and is a teaching assistant for the Phase 1 of UNtraining White Liberal Racism in New England.
Cindy McPherson grew up as a WASP (white Anglo Saxon Protestant), descended on one side from early settler colonists and on the other from Ashkenazi Jews who fled the Holocaust, assimilated, and hid their Jewish identity. She joined the UNtraining in 2016, after a decade immersed in personal healing and transformation but longing to be part of collective healing (tikkun olam, repair of the world). The UNtraining helped her develop understanding of her white conditioning and class privilege and discover passion for both education to counter oppression and activism rooted in spirituality.
She has taken courses in the Master of Arts in Social Change program of Starr King School for the Ministry, has a regular yoga and mindfulness practice, and is currently energized learning erased history of the U.S. in the interest of becoming a reparationist. Cindy works as a project manager for technology projects in an education nonprofit in San Francisco. She has also facilitated spiritual circles and supported individuals as a spiritual life coach.
Louise Chegwidden was born in apartheid South Africa, grew up in Australia, and now plants her garden with her husband and son, on Ohlone land, a.k.a. Oakland CA, for which they pay an annual Shuumi land tax (https://sogoreate-landtrust.org/). Her continental hopping created multiple opportunities for conditioning in white settler colonialism; superiority, I know best-ism, and willful ignorance. A painful experience working alongside environmental justice groups in 2017 compelled Louise to seek support in exploring this conditioning. She heard of the UNtraining from 3 different people, began her journey, and is constantly in awe of and grateful for the loving, insightful mentorship of the community.
Louise continues her 30 year practice of the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education; privately and in a weekly class (http://louisechegwidden.com). Louise loves to dance, and is a daily witness to the sacred sisterhood of bees.
Mari Amend (she/her) is an oral historian, fundraiser, and artist. She first joined the UNtraining in 2018 and wanted to be an A+ student but quickly realized it wasn’t that kind of “class.” With each new year in the UNtraining, she unpacks more layers of her conditioning, her whiteness, and her codependence. This unlearning/relearning is joyful, painful, and liberating, and she’s incredibly grateful for the caring community of people doing this work together.
At her day job, she is the Director of Development and Communications with At The Crossroads, a nonprofit that focuses on building long-term, trusting relationships with people experiencing housing instability in San Francisco. She envisions and works toward a world where everyone has housing, food, healthcare, and caring relationships.
Kristen Gardneris a solo mom of a multi-racial gender-fluid artist who teaches Kristen about love, oppression, and social conditioning every day. In her spare time she works with people and organizations committed to social change and equity as an Organization Development Consultant and Coach (kristengardner.net). Kristen grew up knowing that there was more going on than what was acknowledged in her family, and yearned to find out what it was. Her ongoing work in multi-racial spaces prompted her to enroll in the UNtraining. The personal inquiry and rambunctious community she has found has kept her on the journey. As a second year UNtraining TA she hopes to learn and grow side-by-side with her fellow travelers.