community trustbuilding fellowship

In our increasingly fractured nation, it is valuable to gather together and go deeper in conversation; to take the time and find the space in which we can equally wrestle with challenges and find renewal to embrace opportunities. Central to the racial healing commitment of TRHT is relationship building. 

The Community Trustbuilding Fellowship (CTF), held over five weekends in Richmond, VA, develops the capacity of community leaders from around the U.S. to become authentic trustbuilders capable of overcoming divisions of race, culture, economics and politics. It nurtures multi-sector networks of facilitators and change agents committed to healing historical wounds, creating new shared narratives and building healthy equitable communities. Since 2003, CTF, through Initiatives of Change, has been offering a formative and foundational experience to Richmonders and is now a cornerstone offering of the TRHT/Richmond enterprise.  

The Curriculum 

A cohort of 25 fellows representing a wide diversity of age, background and experiences are led by a deeply trained faculty of scholars and practitioners over five weekend residential modules at Richmond Hill

Weekend 1: Catalysts of change: Becoming an authentic leader                                                
Weekend 2: Healing history: Creating a new narrative for our communities                                          
Weekend 3: Dialogue delivery: Building skills for honest conversation                                                     
Weekend 4: Creating dialogues for change: Getting to the underlying causes of division
Weekend 5: Strategies for engaging all sectors: Building sustainable networks for healing & equity        

Hear firsthand experiences from eight alumni of Initiatives of Change's Community Trustbuilding Fellowship in Richmond, VA

learn more about the CTF experience from RVA Fellows Below and visit to discover more about the CTF curriculum, application, cost and network.  


Osita Iroegbu

CTF 2017
Scholar, Activist, Communications Professional
"Facilitation of healthy and spirited dialogue is an art that allows everyone involved to embrace a space of ownership and responsibility. CTF reinforced the concept that each of us must carry the weight of this journey of reconciliation, healing and structural transformation - that the work does not fall on one individual or group alone. It also emphasized the critical fact that we are all stakeholders who must realize that our true societal liberation is bound up in each other."


Don Cowles

CTF 2003, with friend Lillie A Estes, CTF 2003
“One of the greatest challenges is building relationships with people who appear very different from oneself. (After taking part in the program) I have begun to explore how one’s identify is formed, protected and sometimes born anew.”



Jackie Washington

CTF 2017
Program Manager, Storefront for Community Design
Embrace Richmond
"Communities are directly shaped from policy and structural changes. If we only work on community level changes then we are missing the other half of the solution. I am working to create models in the community level that empower groups to engage in the political process. After taking part in the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship, I am slower to feed into stereotypes and I also now have a network of people I can lean on."




Kevon Purdie

CTF 2017
Norfolk State University
"Ironically, I have been placed in a position in my community wherein in I get a chance to have dialogue with people of several ethnic groups in the Christian community. There is a divide on Sunday mornings during worship services, so I've made it my responsibility to visit several places of worship to connect with the people and invite them to have conversations about bringing all parties together. My next goal is to tackle religious groups, in particular, the Jewish and Muslim community."



Alberto Torres

CTF 2017 - pictured on the right
Hispanic volunteer for justice and peace
"The Community Trustbuilding Fellowship was really challenging for me since I always believed that debate was the key to obtaining solutions. The concepts of dialogue and personal change that bring everybody to the table were not always part of the menu of my life. Now, I have learned the there is always a personal sort and a way each person looks at the world - perspective. I learned how to listen and how to be in the shoes of the other person. 


Kelly Merrill 

CTF 2017
Pictured on the left with Lauranett Lee, CTF 2017
"Increasingly, the national discourse on social differences is becoming decisive at best, and violent at worst. Where we might have once seen our neighbors in their nuanced glory, rhetorical and systemic divisions make complexities more difficult to see, let alone honor. It's easier to see our neighbors as simplistic stereotypes, and this is dangerous for the health of all of our communities."


Hayat Bain 

CTF 2017
Community Convenor, Holistic Nurse
The Community Trustbuilding Fellowship has supported and equipped me to be a much more dynamic, assertive, inclusive and conscious leader and bridge builder in Richmond, VA.  I was challenged to rethink any assumptions and bias I still have, to focus on my development as a leader AND also simply as a person. I also came away with a more complete understanding of the black experience, currently and historically, especially here in Richmond. We have so much more work to do, and yet I can clearly see how far we've come and how other communities are learning by our example and leadership."