Everyone has a story -- this is mine

 
 

Paul Cooper, CPF

For more than twenty-five years, I have helped people and organizations catalyze growth and improve how they work. My credentials are here; my story is below.

Certified Professional Facilitator: Certified by the International Association of Facilitators 

Certified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) 

Certified in focus groups & market research 

International Gestalt Organization & Leadership Development (iGold) Program 

Certified in charrette management and facilitation 

 

1479 Florida Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 494-7053

 
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I was first drawn to facilitation as a volunteer in the early 1990s.

It was the peak of the AIDS crisis; I was petrified of contracting and dying from a painful and debilitating illness, and I was afraid to reach out to those in need. I remained paralyzed on the sidelines for a long time.

When I finally found the courage to act, I threw myself into the middle, volunteering as support group co-facilitator for Whitman-Walker Clinic, an AIDS service organization in Washington, DC. For seven years, my co-facilitator and I held a space every week for eight to ten gay men with HIV to connect, support, and care for one other.

There were many bleak moments. Group members became too sick to return. We attended funerals for friends, young men too young and vital to die. And at time when a cure for HIV seemed unimaginable, we debated whether a sane person with AIDS should even hope for the future.

Looking back, I don’t remember being sad. I remember feeling empowered, and seeing others empowered too. I remember so many acts of love, compassion, and tenderness. We cried at times, but we laughed even more, finding joy and camaraderie together.

Twenty-five years later, many people from that group are dead. But many more are still alive and healthy.

I gained so much from my experience. When I realized I was better at my volunteer job than I was at my profession, I switched the two and began facilitating as a career.  And I carry so many lessons that continue to inform the way I work. I now know that everyone has the power to make a difference. Listening is a gift. Intimacy binds people together.  Joy and sadness can coexist.

And most importantly: It’s always wise to remain hopeful.