Evidence of Wiser Decisions Faster

Check out my video series showcasing the impacts of collaborative planning.

Rebecca facilitated engaging, creative and productive workshops supporting the agency in visioning for the future.

Beginnings Family Services

Rebecca is truly gifted at helping people to clarify their own thinking, identifying and reflecting back the patterns and themes that exist within a diversity of viewpoints (further enhanced by her excellent use of cool tech tools), and helping groups to focus on what’s important to move forward rather than getting stuck or going in circles. She was absolutely the person we needed to shepherd us through our strategic planning process!

Devika Shah
Executive Director, Environment Funders Canada

Rebecca Sutherns is a qualified and experienced strategic planning professional, as well as a gifted presenter. She has an intimate understanding of group dynamics — particularly within the context of a higher educational environment. Working with Rebecca and Sage Solutions was a pleasure — one that I would be happy to repeat or to recommend to anyone requiring her services.

Our strategic plan — now 1.5 years old — is going well, and is alive and relevant in front of our community.

Peter Meehan
President and Vice Chancellor, St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo

Rebecca was an absolute pleasure to work with and guided all the respective stakeholders through the complex process ensuring we captured their respective perspectives and feedback into the process. All participants in the process shared how impressed they were with Rebecca’s facilitation skills. Her efforts resulted in the successful delivery of the project on time, receiving positive feedback from our stakeholders and with a product that will advance our organization forward in a positive direction. It was a pleasure to work with Rebecca on our project and we look forward to working with her more in the future.

Food Banks Canada

Rebecca really knows her “stuff” and is excellent at gently steering the conversations in the right direction to get results. She brings positive energy and momentum into the work, which inspired our team to work hard during more challenging conversations and resulted in creative solutions. I highly recommend working with Rebecca.

Karina McInnis
Associate Vice-President (Research Services), University of Guelph

Rebecca brought a great combination of facilitation skill mixed with an appropriate amount of theory to help shape the outcome, which is a terrific blueprint to use throughout the months to come to continuously improve as a board.

David Merkley
Board Chair, YMCA-YWCA of Guelph

Rebecca, you did a fantastic job.  I liked the fast pace and your straightforward approach. I’ve participated in a number of strategy sessions before with other organizations where it felt like we were shovelling clouds and not getting anywhere and this was not at all what I experienced.

Board Member

Rebecca always delivers and never disappoints.

Director who sits on multiple community boards

Our gratitude and thanks to Rebecca also for her very warm, outgoing and engaging facilitation. I think everyone came away feeling that they had a chance to be heard and to join in. It’s a very tough issue and Rebecca handled it beautifully.

Board Chair

Thanks again for your support at last weeks board meeting. The feedback has been very strong and everyone left feeling energized and excited to get working.

Executive Director of a national association

This workshop was great! There were many tangible skills shared with us. I really appreciated the time to work on our own situation to lead to practical application of skills.

Fantastic workshop. I feel much more clear and confident about facilitation.

Rebecca’s energy and knowledge is amazing!

Thank you for your guidance throughout the workshop — I gained valuable insights and knowledge and have found memories from this experience.

Facilitation Skills workshop participants
Conrad Grebel University College

Fantastic, practical, immediately usable.

Rebecca was incredibly fabulous! I really appreciate the opportunity to learn, apply and explore the content.

Very practical. Great energy.

Strategies for Effective Stakeholder Engagement workshop participants
Conrad Grebel University College

I took Rebecca’s Nimble Facilitation online course and since that time have found her to be a robust resource. We all get a tad nervous when people challenge the process designs we create. I found the course to be tremendously helpful in learning how to fortify my facilitation skills to handle challenging people and tricky moments. 

Since taking her course, I have reached out to Rebecca for guidance when designing meetings on hot topic issues. Her ability to listen to my concerns and help me navigate design issues was invaluable. Her experience, innate talent and wisdom are a comfort to me.

Rachel Gooen, MS, LCSW, Facilitator, Coach, and Catalyst
5th House Consulting, Missoula, MT

I had the good fortune to attend a workshop facilitated by Rebecca as a member of the Wyndham House Board. I left the workshop with clarity around my role on the Board at this moment and confidence to ask important questions as we work on our future strategic direction. Rebecca gave our Board a broad perspective but also put our work and mission into context for the decisions needed to guide the organization. Newly established and seasoned organizations will benefit from Rebecca’s guidance towards consensus on purpose and action.

Danielle Van Raalte
Wyndham House, Board of Directors

Rebecca helped us have difficult conversations and wade through complexity to focus on what was most important. She has wonderful facilitation skills and a pleasant style that makes everyone, from front line employees to board members, feel at ease and valued.

Tracy Elop
CEO, Carizon Family and Community Services

I really benefited from Rebecca’s coaching approach. I sometimes had difficulty articulating what I needed to help me address a situation or develop additional skills. Rebecca asked the right questions, provided guidance, and suggested resources to help me on my personal and professional development journey.

Kelly Giesbrecht
Regional Manager, Retention and Recruitment, Medical Affairs at Northern Health – BC

Rebecca is just very good at what she does. She is flexible in her approaches, and listens well to our needs. She is very thorough in planning. In a meeting, she has the uncommon ability to ‘roll with the blows.’ We have seen her address very difficult people at public meetings, and address issues as they arise very respectfully. She is able to think quickly on her feet and keep a meeting moving forward to meet the outcomes staff need. Her final reports are very comprehensive with thorough data analysis.

[Rebecca] has a breadth of experience (public, non-profit, institutional and private sectors) that informs and enhances all her services. She is very technically skilled and brings this to all her workshops and engagement activity design and planning. For example she considers and designs for multiple learning styles with a variety of information and different types of engaging and creative activities.

She is an excellent and dynamic communicator, speaks with clarity in “plain” language, and draws on lots of relevant examples to illustrate her ideas. She is highly organized and dependable. We also can count on Rebecca to manage some of our most challenging stakeholder groups.

Kate Bishop
Supervisor of Community Engagement, City of Guelph

Rebecca’s sessions are productive and engaging. She is both conscientious and adaptable. She can be counted on to build strong rapport with participants and to maintain high positive energy in the room. She models collaborative leadership even as she teaches it to others.

Personally I have found Rebecca to be dynamic, authentic, and passionate. She knows how to connect with people in a genuine manner that allows for trust and difficult conversations to happen. She creates dynamic environments that make innovation possible. She is also someone who consistently goes the extra mile and I deeply respect.

John Neufeld
Executive Director, House of Friendship

Rebecca is a master at taking complex work and boiling it down into manageable pieces. Professionals of all levels of experience with collaborative work will feel even more capable of tackling tough conversations and challenging group processes with Rebecca at the helm!

Alison Pearson
Manager, Children and Youth Planning Table, Waterloo Region

[Working with Rebecca] is like working with a trusted friend who steps in, analyzes what is needed, and then supports you to work towards that goal. The intention is in the best interests of the client. The work undertaken is confidential and professional and will leave you in a better place than you started.

Rebecca is a personable and professional consultant who delivers. She was able to quickly gather and analyze information, identify gaps and collaborate in order to engage stakeholders in implementation. The result has been an engaged board moving forward.

Lorri Sauve
Program Director, Shelldale Better Beginnings, Better Futures

Rebecca was exactly what our organization needed. An objective and fresh perspective that allowed us to examine the future of our organization critically. Rebecca’s style was engaging and effective and non-judgmental while keeping us focused on task. We are excited to see where the organization goes as a result of our work with Sage Solutions.

Board Executive Members
Learning Disabilities Association of Wellington County

Dr. Sutherns seems inevitably to display a large appetite for tackling tough and complex research and policy assignments with a combination of speed and comprehensiveness…You will enjoy working with Dr Sutherns, a fact to which I and many of her colleagues and clients can attest. She is a constant learner and critical optimist.

Dr. David Kupp
World Vision International

Positive, practical and insightful facilitator.

Facilitation Skills participant
Conrad Grebel University


Sandra Austin

Sandra Austin is the Director of Strategic Initiatives for The Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario Canada.

The Strategic Initiatives portfolio includesdistinct, high-priority and high-profile portfolios that are constantly changing, often addressing messy problems with uncertain outcomes. The key for Sandra is to approach this work with curiosity, but not simply curiosity for its own sake. She works hard at understanding the issues and considering possibilities without being too committed to a solution, while being anchored by a strategic plan and pursuing a “coalition of the willing.” She brings curiosity to those who resist change, recognizing their value in widening the lens on an issue. Sandra says, “We need to be comfortable with things being uncertain and moving into untried things, asking ‘What if…we did it this way?’”

Dr. Dorothy Nyambi

Dr. Dorothy Nyambi is the President and CEO at Mennonite Economic Development Associates.

From a background as a Black female medical doctor in Cameroon, Dorothy is now working on a North-South shift in a development subsector characterized by explicit and implicit racism, white ‘saviourism,’ and sexism. “People say they are curious, but they also don’t know how to give up power to do so.” Dorothy brings a sense of genuine curiosity to these challenges and to leading her team. She likens them to an Olympic team, where everyone has their strengths in service of the same goal, and her role is to help them work together to do so. “I really believe in working with people to unpack their own minds—that people have the solutions to their own problems.”

Jennifer Hutton

Jennifer Hutton is the CEO at Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

Whether in seasons where staff and leaders are exhausted from the complex needs of their work or in instances where new and exciting possibilities are envisioned and made a reality, Jennifer leads her team with imagination as a core value.  Jennifer says, “Time is well spent in conversation. Sometimes a pivotal conversation can send you down an important path forward.” This value also means letting her team know it’s okay to take risks and even make mistakes. Many of those risks have paid off, too, with innovative and effective awareness campaigns, discovering ways to eliminate job stressors for staff, and pivoting to new ways of delivering services to their clients in times of crisis.

Julia Grady

Julia Grady is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of 10C, as well as a working encaustic artist and community finance innovator. 

“People talk strategy, but they don’t realize that imagination, passion and creativity are actually the underlying ideas and principles in the top companies in the world,” says Julia whose work as a placemaker is rooted in her identity as an artist. Her organization’s imaginative vision always addresses the question: what do changemakers need? The answers to that question have been varied and are constantly evolving, and are often found in the design constraints of a problem itself. She activates conversation between partners, including funders, who work and imagine collaboratively. The result is social impact work that earns revenue and makes communities better.

The Counselling Collaborative of Waterloo Region

The Counselling Collaborative of Waterloo Region is a group of six not-for-profit community counselling agencies working in an integrated way to serve their community. 

While the agencies worked together for years, in 2018 they began working more collaboratively, developing a strategic plan and securing funding as a group. They use a “no wrong door” approach and a centralized intake to help the community connect more easily. Along the way, the leadership team addressed power differentials and built credibility so today their biweekly meetings are characterized by vulnerability and mutual support, with each member considering the group a vital resource and a place to discuss practical concerns. The agencies have found a way to be better together, with greater access to resources and influence.

Heather Froome and Dr. Sidney Kennedy

Heather Froome is the Director of Operations of the Homewood Research Institute, where Dr. Sidney Kennedy is the Executive Director.

As affordable housing has become increasingly scarce, Eden says it’s vital to be clear about her organization’s mission and values as they discover new ways of achieving them in the face of market constraints. It’s easy to drift from mission, especially when appealing opportunities come with significant revenue, but Eden is committed to strategic planning as a guide: “You need to deeply understand your organization’s mission and stay true to it. These give purpose and clarity. We also consider the return on investment and whether an opportunity is in our wheelhouse. You have to be okay in being narrow in what you do.” As a leader, she also seeks those who share the vision, saying, “You can’t be strategic alone.” 

Eden Grodzinski

Eden Grodzinski is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin.

As affordable housing has become increasingly scarce, Eden says it’s vital to be clear about her organization’s mission and values as they discover new ways of achieving them in the face of market constraints. It’s easy to drift from mission, especially when appealing opportunities come with significant revenue, but Eden is committed to strategic planning as a guide: “You need to deeply understand your organization’s mission and stay true to it. These give purpose and clarity. We also consider the return on investment and whether an opportunity is in our wheelhouse. You have to be okay in being narrow in what you do.” As a leader, she also seeks those who share the vision, saying, “You can’t be strategic alone.”

Devon Page

Devon Page is a lawyer and the outgoing Executive Director of Ecojustice.

Protecting the planet is a daunting task requiring those doing so to be highly strategic and mission-aligned. When Devon considers organizational effectiveness over the last few years, he asks, “Why aren’t we thinking about the ways we are better and stronger than we were before?” Thinking strategically for him is simply a question of operationalizing vision, although he acknowledges translating vision into action is not always straightforward. A big challenge within strategy is innovation, where an organization is directed by its mission and also called to respond to new challenges and pursue audacious goals. Devon also points to clear impact—rather than funder appetite—as the bottom line for strategy, and what makes an organization stand out.

Catherine Wassmansdorf

Catherine Wassmansdorf is the Education Program Manager at The Riverwood Conservancy.

Pivoting work in experiential outdoor education during the pandemic was a lesson in adaptability for Catherine, who adjusted her personal practices, relied on the support and confidence of her organization’s leadership and colleagues, and leaned on their shared mission. She discovered new ways of delivering dynamic and effective programs digitally—including unexpectedly popular online Turtle Time—some of which allowed new participants to join in the fun. She also learned about the limits of adaptability, when constraints did not allow programs to translate well to online environments. “We now have a new capacity,” Catherine says. “We have a sense that we have forged multiple pathways that will help us if and when we have to adapt again.”

Jay Reid and Hayley Kellett

Jay Reid and Hayley Kellett are co-founders of the improv-based corporate training organization The Making-Box.

From roots in theatre, Hayley and Jay use improv principles and skills to help their clients experience change as energizing rather than depleting. The principle of letting go equips teams for uncertainty, while the skill of noticing distinguishes between faux adaptability and factors needed for real change. “’Yes-and’ helps us work together in polarized situations,” says Hayley while Jay says, “There are deeper outcomes in the notion of practicing playfulness together,” pointing to studies demonstrating the practical value of humour in creating psychological safety for teams. The Making-Box itself draws on these principles and over the last few years has itself been a case study in adaptability as it shifted its model and service delivery methods.

Terry Cooke and Annette Aquin

Terry Cooke is the President and CEO, and Annette Aquin is Executive Vice President Finance and Operations of the Hamilton Community Foundation

Rather than likeability being a goal, Annette says it’s an outcome of the work they do—and how they do it. Because community foundations engage in potentially divisive issues, Terry and Annette say decisions must be firmly rooted in research and their organization’s values. Relationships past, present and future drive their work as they acknowledge their debt to those before them. They work hard at building trust, inclusivity, and true collaboration with their community and look to a solid future by hiring well, mentoring, responding to emerging opportunities, and, as Terry says, “creating space for the next person to do what is best.”

John Neufeld 

John Neufeld is the Executive Director of the House of Friendship. 

Building strong rapport is important to John because of his personal story as an immigrant. “I just didn’t fit in. That’s why I’m passionate about House of Friendship—because we make sure everyone belongs.” Investing in relationships and culture, connecting at a human level and tapping into the strengths of his team are key elements of likeability. But John recognizes that rather than seeking to be liked, leaders need to harness courage and passion to make tough decisions, work hard and deliver on their promises. Likeability is a proxy for that kind of integrity. He says, “One of the best pieces of leadership advice I was ever given was to look for ways to add value to other people’s lives.”

Jim Moss and Dave Whiteside

Jim Moss and Dave Whiteside are longtime colleagues, first at Plasticity Labs and now at YMCA of Three Rivers's YMCA WorkWell where Jim is the Leader of Community Development and Dave is the Director of Insights. 

YMCA WorkWell has a mandate to build healthier, thriving organizations and their work offers relevant, evidence-based, recent Canadian data on how organizations can help their people find the right stretch. In their work, Jim and Dave engage in practical and fresh thinking on depletion, burnout, managing your own and your employees' energy. "An elastic needs to be engaged to be useful," says Jim while Dave adds that the last few years have been "a natural experiment that's allowed us to know where we could stretch and where it's not optimal." 

Emma Rogers 

Emma Rogers is the CEO of the Children's Foundation of Guelph and Wellington and the co-founder of the community philanthropy charity Guelph Gives. 

In a social good sector devoted to making every dollar have impact and where everyone is working harder than ever, Emma has a new appreciation of the currency of energy. "It's the most valuable thing I can give someone, and vice versa." Her own energy is admirable and is fueled by her passion for innovation and by the stories of impact from her work, but she leads her team with more than inspiring stories. Instead, Emma implements innovative practices and knows that enabling team members to show up as their best selves is an excellent investment in accomplishing their mission.