National Network of ToP Trainers

Our national network of skilled and experienced ToP® Trainers train over 4,000 people each year on ToP Facilitation Methods.

If you would like to connect with a particular trainer, or if you are interested in learning more about the journey to become a ToP Trainer, submit an inquiry through the Contact Us button.

Trainers appear alphabetically by first name. Use your browser's search function to find a particular trainer.

Carla Roberts

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Trainer – Fremont, MI

Carla Roberts, President & CEO of the Fremont Area Community Foundation has reinvented herself through three waves of professional experience:  the early formative years of administrative support roles in education, a decade of leading arts institutions and two decades in philanthropy.  One of the touchstones of her professional experience has been the Technology of Participation methodologies which she first learned in the early 90’s.   Roberts became a practitioner and later a trainer of these simple but powerful ways of working with others to achieve genuine consensus and momentum towards social change.  She has used them to negotiate tough conversations, to resolve conflicts, to create strategic frameworks, to develop fundraising campaigns, and to enhance learning through reflection on group achievements and progress.  Carla is delighted to have the opportunity to share these methods with others.

Carole Rylander

Qualified Trainer - Dallas, TX

Carole Rylander inspires and engages nonprofit leadership to maximize mission impact by strengthening fund development, governance and planning practices. She has expertise in feasibility studies, capital campaigns, major gift campaigns, case for support development and development audits. Carole has in-depth experience with governance best practices and assists with enhancing board culture, recruitment, engagement and meeting practices as well as committee structures. A trained facilitator, she customizes strategic and fund development planning processes to meet each organization’s unique needs. As a frequent speaker, she draws on more than 30 years of service in the nonprofit sector to benefit board and staff members with highly rated workshops. (For more information visit Carole is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer, was named 2006 Outstanding Fundraising Executive by the Dallas Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, has held the Certified Fundraising Executive credential since 1990 and is a CoreClarity Certified Facilitator.

Deb Burnight

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Mentor Trainer - Sioux City, IA

Deb is a certified professional facilitator with more than twenty-five years of experience in facilitation, board and corporate training, and community collaboration. A graduate of the University of Iowa and a former elementary and middle school teacher, Deb blends a rich background from her work with educational, private, government and not-for-profit sectors with solid facilitation skills to help groups communicate and work together effectively. Deb’s expertise in facilitation, training and consulting covers a wide range of arenas, including strategic planning, project design and evaluation, team building, process design, executive coaching and leadership development. She is also an experienced facilitation skills trainer, coach and mentor. Deb is professionally affiliated with the International Association of Facilitators and the ToP® (Technology of Participation) Trainers Network, has served on its national Board of Directors, is principal of Prairie River Partners training consortium, and is a founding partner of Great Plains ToP Facilitators. Deb and her husband Randy live on a small acreage in the Loess Hills outside Sioux City, Iowa, where they enjoy their native prairie restoration project and a rather noisy family of productive chickens.

Dennis Jennings

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Mentor Trainer - Chicago, IL

Dennis Jennings is a professional facilitator who assists individuals and organizations seeking to successfully navigate the challenges and the opportunities of a continually changing environment. He is particularly skilled at designing processes to meet the situation and needs of the organizations’ he serves. As a facilitator Dennis creates a safe environment for individuals to share differences and to find common ground. As a trainer he seeks to demonstrate that facilitation skills are accessible and can be applied by those open to learning them. Dennis designs and delivers programs in Strategic Planning and Implementation, Mission Development, Public Participation and Team Development.

Ester Mae Cox

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Mentor Trainer - Winterset, IA

Ester Mae Cox, MA is a “retired” educator from Iowa State University Extension. Besides training ToP courses, she is an independent consultant, trainer, and facilitator. In her encore retirement work, she worked as a trainer with Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, and assists World Learning groups create action plans they will implement when they return to their home countries. Since 2000, she has co-trained ToP courses including ToP Facilitation Methods, ToP Strategic Planning, ToP Secrets of Implementation, Approaches to Environmental Scanning. Mrs. Cox has served on several of the ToP Network teams, including Certification, Curriculum, and Virtual teams, and led team that updated the TFM participant manual in 2016. She co-leads a team of international ToP Trainers who train the Virtual Facilitation Online (VFO) course that is publically offered four times per year and in-house virtual training as requested. She co-authored the manual for VFO classes updated/refreshed/revised in 2018. She lives on an acreage near Winterset, IA, with her husband, numerous animals, an abundant garden, numerous quilting projects, and four grandchildren close by.

Eva Jensen

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Qualified Trainer - Twin Cities, MN

Eva Jensen is an organizational and community development consultant based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Ms. Jensen works as an independent consultant with clients from the public, private and nonprofit sector. She has specialized expertise and experience in work with religious communities, congregations, church denominations, and organizations. Eva has a Ph.D. in Development Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; with a concentration in sociology. She is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Most recently Eva served as an Interim Pastor in two different ELCA congregations based in Minneapolis. Rev. Jensen has directed National Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) relationships in seven West African Countries and facilitated collaborative program capacity building for peace-making, education, health care, agriculture, and water resource development; managed a national ecumenical rural development, education and advocacy program; and brought leadership to urban ministry and community development in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Heidi Kolbe

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Mentor Trainer - Sacramento, CA

Heidi Kolbe is a highly skilled, nationally recognized Facilitator and Project Consultant specializing in public policy formation. She creates team alignment with multi-disciplinary and multi-sector stakeholders to enable them to accomplish great things together. She has served all levels of government for 28 years. Heidi holds professional certification from all three national entities certifying facilitators. She is author of a chapter on reshaping the California Judicial System in the book Government Works: Profiles of People Making a Difference.




Irina Fursman

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Mentor Trainer - Minneapolis, MN

A premier facilitator and OD practitioner, Irina guides teams through strategic planning, change and engagement initiatives. Irina also teaches the art and science of facilitation. Born in the USSR, Irina spent the first half of her life in Russia, Crimea and Ukraine. She moved to the US in 2002 and co-founded the Institute of Cultural Affairs Ukraine. Irina delivers lively, inspiring experiences for communities and organizations.





Jen Schanen-Materi

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Qualified Trainer - Green Bay, WI

Jen Schanen-Materi has facilitated and trained diverse groups including the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force, Great Lakes InterTribal Council, and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Jen integrates ToP facilitation methods into her classroom at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to create a safe and participatory learning environment. Jen presently serves as BSW field coordinator and lecturer in the Social Work Professional Programs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Jen is an APSW (Advanced Practice Social Worker-Wisconsin), and received both her Masters and Bachelors of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Previously, Jen worked at a grassroots nonprofit, serving primarily Native American children and families. Jen coordinated domestic violence, sexual assault, and teen pregnancy prevention and outreach efforts—both in direct practice settings with youth and community, and in program development and evaluation capacities. Jen has also worked alongside survivors of domestic violence and adults with disabilities.

Jennifer Obinna

Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and Mentor Trainer - St. Paul, MN

Dr. Jennifer Obinna, Director of Consulting at The Improve Group, has a background in social work, violence against women, primary prevention, program evaluation and social science research methods. She provides high-quality evaluation, research, facilitation and planning services to clients from a variety of local, state and national organizations that includes governments and non-profits. She received her Masters of Science in Social Work and her Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.




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