Strength & Service Series: The Path to Becoming More Racially Aware Leaders — Foundational Elements for the Journey

Date: July 28, 2020
Time: 1–3 p.m. EDT

Registration is limited to  Lutheran Services in America member organizations.  Capacity is limited to 100 attendees.


Lutheran Services in America members have always been committed to serving those in need. The recent uprising in response to enduring systemic racism has produced a call-to-action for leaders in all areas to help bring about true change. For white leaders who may be newer to understanding racism and their connection to it, it can be hard to know what steps to take, and it can seem like landmines are everywhere.

In this two-hour, interactive workshop hosted by certified professional diversity coach Marion Hodges Biglan, participants will learn and reflect on their connection to some foundational concepts about racism that will be essential on their journey to become more racially aware — and therefore more impactful — social service leaders. Note that while this session is open to people of all racial identities, it will be most useful for people who identify as white and/or people of color who do not identify as black.

Session Objectives

Participants of this workshop will:

  • Build awareness of “white supremacy culture,” learn its historical roots, and understand why recognizing it and shifting its hold on us is an essential part of the journey to becoming more racially aware and effective social service leaders
  • Learn about some of the dynamics that make it hard for white people to engage in dialogue and action around racism, along with some tools, mindsets, and practices that can help us more effectively engage
  • Create a courageous community space to reflect and learn alongside each other
  • Commit to next steps for continued learning and action

Workshop Outline

Introductions & Welcome


  • Ground in the objectives
  • Set agreements for the space
  • Engage in interactive introduction activity

Discuss & Process Key Concepts

  • The historic roots of whiteness, and how a culture and system that favors whiteness (i.e. white supremacy) was established
  • White privilege & fragility
  • White saviorism

Antidotes & Practices

  • Learn practices and antidotes to our conditioning & why they work

Close & Commit

  • Reflect on learnings & commit to 3 next steps in small groups. Commit to follow up with each other in 2 weeks to check in as accountability partners.


  • Complete this short survey by Tuesday, July 21. Your responses are confidential and will only be seen by Marion Biglan, workshop leader, and will help her ensure the workshop meets participants where they are (approximate time needed:  5 minutes).
  • Read the following articles before the workshop and reflect on the reflection questions with each article. We will be discussing some of your reflections in small groups during the workshop (approximate time needed:  1 hour).



"Black and Brown People Have Been Protesting for Centuries. It’s White People Who are Responsible for What Happens Next”

When did you become aware of your race?  What messages did you get about race, including your own, growing up? 

Reflections on Being Colorblind

What is your current understanding of race, racism, and how you see it?

From Saviorism to Co-conspirator

As your think about your work and role, where (if any) do you see connections with the perspectives from the blog authors? 

About Marion Hodges Biglan

Marion is a certified professional diversity coach and facilitator who is passionate about creating more impactful racially conscious leaders and workplaces that bring about a just and equitable world for all.  The founder of Illuminate Coaching,  Marion brings to her practice over two decades of experience in education, human capital, and non-profit leadership, starting as a 5th grade teacher through Teach For America, then launching Teach For America’s Chicago region as the founding executive director.  Then, as vice president of Teach For America’s people partner team, Marion and her team supported senior leaders on leadership, culture, diversity and inclusiveness and more. 

Marion is committed to continuing her journey to learn and foster racial justice in her community and all areas of her life. In her work and personal life, Marion convenes spaces for white leaders to learn, process, and grow in anti-racism.  She presented a session at the 2018 White Privilege Conference in Grand Rapids, MI called “Whiteness at Work: How is Whiteness at Work in Your Leadership?” and is a guest lecturer on whiteness at Arcadia University’s graduate level counseling class.

About the Strength & Service Series

Lutheran Services in America’s Strength & Service Series is an interactive, virtual gathering of the best minds in our space, laser-focused on examining and tackling the unintended consequences and uncertainties in today’s climate — all with the goal of helping move your organization forward. Click here for details.

Thanks to Our Sponsor

This interactive workshop is made possible by funding from a grant from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Special thanks to the ELCA for sponsoring this workshop.