Since its inception in 1991, the Matrix Leadership Institute continues to evolve according to its principle of shared leadership, integrating the inspiration, insights, and skills of its participants, facilitators, and leaders. Previously called Group Leadership Training (GLT), the Matrix Model was founded by Amina Knowlan, M.S. and David Patterson, Ph.D. At that time, Amina and David had been leading groups and consulting for over twenty years. Amina was a trainer for the Hakomi Institute of Body-Centered Psychotherapy. She had gained a reputation in the Hakomi community as someone who brought her expertise and attention to group dynamics into the Hakomi trainings. The first Group Leadership Training was offered in Portland, Oregon in 1991, in response to a request from students and teachers within the Hakomi community. The design of their first four-phase training was influenced by their training with NTL and its roots in laboratory education and T-groups, as well as their graduate studies in group work and counseling psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
During the next seven years, Amina and David conducted this ever-evolving model in six subsequent trainings in Boulder, Colorado, Evanston, Illinois and Asheville, North Carolina. The training was designed to offer an experiential opportunity to participate in an intentionally formed learning community from its birth to its death. The four phases of the training reflected the developmental stages of group life. Forming and maintaining an interpersonal matrix of communication between people became the cornerstone of the method. The training offered an intensive laboratory for personal and professional development and a practicum in design and co-facilitation. The original training was also influenced by Amina's background in dance and movement work, which she attributes to her training with Joyce Weir, and by her work with Ron Kurtz in the Hakomi Method of body-centered psychotherapy.
In the late 1990s, the development of the work consciously broadened. David Patterson resigned in 1998 to pursue his career as a psychologist. Amina began more actively encouraging and integrating the support and skills of a number of new trainers and facilitators in the Matrix Model. Deb Sherer and Jennifer Hartgering of Evanston, Illinois and Mukara Meredith of Boulder, Colorado were instrumental in the transition phase. The development of the training at that time was also strongly influenced by transpersonal or spiritual traditions that were shared by Deb, Mukara and Amina and cofacilitators, Charna Rosenholtz and John Cannon. Cofacilitators Jack Spivak, Bob Medlock and Christian Isquerdo brought a thorough knowledge of systems theory into the mix. Christian also brought his training in Process Work developed by Arnie Mendell. Carol Jungman brought her knowledge of organizational development. Debra Sheehen and Mukara brought their knowledge of Cranial Sacral work and the principles of attending to the health and fluid connecting systems of the body. A training in Houston, Texas in 1998 was the first to begin to integrate awareness of privilege, rank and social justice, in part due to the presence of participants Gerald Boyd and Joanne Demark, Ph.D., who were long-time diversity trainers for NCBI (National Coalition Building Institute) in Atlanta. Through these years of reorganization, a core staff group committed to evolving Matrix Leadership and learning to embodying their own principles.
In early 2002, the first advanced training, the Facilitator Training, was offered in Boulder. This four phase, 16-day training included four days of training in multicultural competence conducted by Gerald Boyd and Joanne DeMark. This reflected Amina's commitment to integrate training in prejudice reduction and multicultural competence into the Matrix Model. Matrix Leadership today remains committed to gender-balanced training teams that incorporate as much diversity as possible. The organization is committed to making the Matrix workshops and trainings accessible to diverse economic groups and professions.
In the fall of 2002, Amina, Gerald, Joanne, and Christie Donner from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder, organized a pivotal event on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. This community-wide event (entitled 9/11 Convergence: Training Social Artists; Moving Beyond Fear, Hatred, Greed and War) was the first public workshop that intentionally brought together Matrix group work and the work of prejudice reduction and multi-cultural training. Since that time, Convergence: Training Social Artists workshops have also been conducted in Chicago and Atlanta.
Since 2002, Amina has also been more actively engaged in developing Matrix Leadership principles and practices for application in businesses, organizations, government, health care and nonprofit agencies. This work has been influential in helping her to articulate the deep structure of the Matrix Model. She is currently writing a book that describes both the science (the method) of creating sustainable communities and organizations, and the art (the transformational healing) that becomes possible in a truly open system.
It is a very exciting time in the development of this work. Matrix Leadership has evolved from its roots in laboratory education and T-groups, to a model that is centered in the values and principles of interconnectedness and sustainability. It is now clear that there is a sequence of components that create the foundation for a truly sustainable, open system in any group context. In the four-phase Matrix Comprehensive Training, participants go well beyond learning the revolutionary Matrix Model of relational and group development. They experience profound personal and social healing, as well as an extraordinary level of professional development.
Our two newest trainers, Raven Wells and Gregory Gaiser, bring an expertise in working with trauma in groups. From this background we are learning in quantum leaps how to create a ground of present connection between people that supports individuals and relationships to stay in present-time connection and evolve through territories that would ordinarily be threatening, chaotic or fragmenting. We are now teaching and working at the cutting edge of developing true, sustainable inter-connection. We are teaching as fast as we learn to differentiate from the cultural paradigms of separation and external hierarchical authority. We are social artists, emerging into the blueprint for a new social order.
Current trainings are scheduled for Boulder, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay area. The newly redesigned Matrix Comprehensive Training will include an increased attention to the need to train, inspire and empower Social Artists to envision and develop applications that are dedicated to restoring the truth of our interconnectedness on the planet.
"What we really trained in was a language of connection (verbal and nonverbal) so that where we were once limited, we are now expansive, where we were once stuck we are now spacious, where we were once paralyzed by fear, we are now ready to lean into discomfort. "
— A. Lessing
High School English Teacher