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Fellows Spotlight
Fellows on Facilitation: Brent Kakesako
August 2, 2023
Contributed by: Brent Kakesako
Photo of Brent Kakesako facilitating a group meeting

Photo courtesy Brent Kakesako

In our latest issue of Taking on Tomorrow, we asked Fellows to share how they prepare for meetings, tips they have learned from their experiences, and how their facilitation skills extend into all aspects of their lives. Here's what Brent Kakesako, executive director of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development had to say:

How do you prepare for facilitating a group?

Learn About the People, Place, and Issue: I set aside time beforehand to get to know who will be in the room, the place and context, and the issue so as to be able to allow conversations to go deeper rather than participants having to take valuable time and energy to educate me. It also helps me to try to make connections that could hopefully add some sort of immediate value for participants as well as keep in mind voices that need to be supported to feel safe to be heard.

Be Clear on the Process and Value for Participants: I get clear with myself and our partners to know what the process is, how participants’ voices will be used, what the feedback loop will be, and what the value may be for participants so as to be able to clearly communicate with participants to honor their time and so they have choice whether to participate. And as a part of this, I prepare myself so I can share my level of commitment and involvement in the process and going forward.

Get a Good Nights Sleep the Night Before: Being well-rested helps me to be fully present for the group as well as able to think clearly if things need to pivot based on what is happening. It’s also been critical to be rested so as to be prepared for tense situations or when folks express anger or frustration and be able to stay grounded.

Photo of Brent Kakesako

“I strive to integrate the practices of active listening and being present for my loved ones in my daily life.”

Can you share an example?

We worked with an institutional partner and together prepared for a place-based facilitation event and identified the hot button issues as well as how we might handle them. Unfortunately, that partner brought up the issue and immediately realized their mistake based on the immediate angry and frustrated response of participants. The person then looked at me and said, “ Heeeere’s Brent!” with a sorry look. That led to me getting lit up for about an hour. Yikes. Thankfully, I was rested so I was able to stay present and not take the comments personally. It also highlighted the importance of showing up again as folks were surprised I came back and led to the beginning of some trust building.

How do you apply facilitation in your personal life? 

I strive to integrate the practices of active listening and being present for my loved ones in my daily life—I’m not always successful, but a goal I aim for! I sometimes repeat back verbatim what I heard to show the person I was truly listening to them, which I find is especially appreciated by the younger people in my life.

Facilitation skills, especially the ones above, are widely applicable that everyone can learn and apply—like any practice, bugga takes practice!!

Photo of George Yarbrough
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