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Consulting, Speaking, and Training


Dennis Donovan with group of students.For more than two decades, the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship has coached organizations and individuals to work on issues they care about in communities in Minnesota, around the United States, and across the globe. Using theory-based civic engagement strategies, we work closely with instructors, academic advisors, student life coordinators, coaches, students, civic leaders, and ordinary citizens as they develop their civic agency and ability to connect and work with others to address shared problems.

We work with you to tailor a program of facilitated workshops, coaching, lectures, program consultation, and more to fit your context and institutional needs.


Our Offerings

Customized Training and Coaching

Where We Work


Contact Us


What do we offer?

Power, Self-Interest, and One-to-One Relationship Building

In this interactive training session, participants will gain an understanding of relational power while learning how to conduct (and practice) one-to-one relational meetings, a key tool for organizing.  Participants will develop greater clarity around their own self-interest, and will learn how to get to know others’ self-interest in order to invite them into common work.

Introduction to Public Achievement

Participants will be introduced to Public Achievement as a model for using public work to take action, and will leave with at least two models for integrating Public Achievement into their educational setting.

Public Achievement Training

Learn all the details you need to begin Public Achievement in your context. How do you start? What is a site? What are the stages of Public Achievement? What is the role of a coach, coach coordinator, site coordinator, teacher, and more? May also include specific training for coaches and coach coordinators.

Public Narrative

Using Marshall Ganz’s framework for storytelling as a catalyst for social change, participants in this workshop will learn about the power of the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now, and will begin to develop their own public narratives.

Deliberative Dialogue

According to research through the National Issues Forum, Americans are deeply worried that the social fabric may be unraveling due to polarization. A deliberative approach helps to address the problem of polarization. Deliberative practice promotes learning, listening, and understanding across lines of difference, and can lead to collective action. This experience-based training for moderating deliberative dialogues offers the opportunity for participants to engage in a deliberative dialogue, and to develop facilitation skills for moderating deliberative dialogues.

Democracy and the Philosophy of Public Work

In this dynamic workshop, participants will learn about the theory and practice of public work. Participants will leave being able to distinguish between three ways of conceptualizing democracy and what it means to be a citizen, and will understand civic agency and its role in public problem solving.

Power Mapping

People interested in promoting positive social change— through public work, civic action, advocacy and other vehicles—need to be aware of who else cares about their cause, and the political and social power structures in play. Social change agents need tools to access resources and to put their ideas into action. Power mapping gives participants a way to think about different kinds of power, and a set of tools to access the power needed to make things happen.

Leadership for Change

Local leaders are constantly seeking more effective ways to engage citizens and community groups in productive civic problem solving. Typically, citizens are invited to participate in a formal process after the issue has been identified. The Sabo Center’s civic engagement approach flips the role of local officials from problem solver to partner, bringing citizens in on the front end of public problem solving to name the problems to begin with. In this module, learn how to create a space that brings citizens together to name and act upon  the issues that matter to them.



Sabo Center staff are available for lectures and keynote addresses on the topics of democracy and higher education, public work, non-violence philosophy, history and experience in the civil rights movement, public organizing, the Public Achievement model, and more.



Customized Training, Coaching, and Consultation

Our trainers work with educators, student and neighborhood groups, businesses, nonprofits, and professional organizations. Workshops and presentations are interactive and designed around each group or organization’s goals. Our training staff is available to provide site visits or longer-term coaching. Our fees include needs assessment, planning, facilitation, and materials.

In the past we have provided training, consultation, and developed materials for:

  • Lone Star College
  • St. Norbert’s College
  • Denison University
  • Colgate University
  • Longwood State University Student Leadership Retreat
  • University of Minnesota Graduate and Professional Student Association
  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College
  • Augsburg University
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Association of Public Management Professionals of Minnesota
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Education Society of Malopolska (Poland)
  • Clear Vision (Eau Claire, Wisc.)


Where and with whom do we work?

On College and University Campuses

Students have the skills and confidence to be public problem solvers on campus and in the community. They realize accountability is crucial for public work, and they know how to build strong relationships with instructors and administrators, community members, and other students.

In Schools

Citizen teachers have the skills and confidence to be part of addressing community–school challenges. They are facilitators of learning and see young people as civic resources. Citizen teachers serve as powerful role models for students and other staff, feel less isolated, and report greater job satisfaction.

In Communities

Addressing complex public problems requires the skills, ideas and work of a diverse group of people. A core team that includes young people and representatives from local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, faith groups and schools can effectively coordinate community-based action–if they have strategies for identifying and building relational power and working across differences.

With Professionals

Citizen professionals use their expertise and place in the community to solve problems with–not for–others. They do this by developing relationships with a wide network of people and seeking to understand their needs, interests and skills, When a citizen professional wants to change something, or is asked to change something, she knows how to organize people in her network to take action.

With Trainers

When individuals in your organization have the skills to teach and mentor others, your organization’s commitment to public work will be more sustainable and effective. Trainers are able to connect action on a particular issue to larger themes of democracy and civic engagement in a way that inspires. They facilitate the process of issue development and reflection and engage in problem-solving with action teams.



The Sabo Center staff bring decades of experience to our work. We will work with you to match one of our experienced facilitators to your context and training needs. Read more about our primary facilitators.


Contact Us

Interested in working with us? Contact Sabo Center Executive Director Elaine Eschenbacher to start a conversation about how we can work together (