Deep Democracy Training for Leaders and Managers


What We Are Here ForMORE ABOUT US

In today’s complex work environments, the skillful handling of interpersonal and team dynamics has become a vital quality among leaders. We offer trainings, civic dialogues and consulting services that provide a powerful set of practices to excel in groups and work more skillfully with the human factor. Use the tools of Deep Democracy to:

  • Lead your team to a place of clarity, trust, and high performance.
  • Crack open and powerfully shift the dynamics that are holding back your work.
  • Tap into the richness of diversity and create just and equitable communities.
  • Transform conflict and frustration into authentic resolution and forward momentum.

Our team of exceptionally skilled facilitators and trainers bring the Lewis Method of Deep Democracy from its roots in post-apartheid South Africa to the communities and organizations of North America. We are experienced consultants, scholar-practitioners, social innovators, and activists working for a wiser, more sensible world.

In conflict there is wisdom. Learn simple steps and revolutionary ideas that will unleash the full potential of your team.

Aftab Erfan & Sera Thompson

Social Innovator

Sera began studying with Myrna Lewis in South Africa in 2004 and was the first trainer in this lineage of Deep Democracy in North America. She is a master practitioner and coach, having successfully led change processes with dozens of organizations on four continents in the public, private, not-for-profit and academic sectors.

Sera Thompson


Aftab has been experimenting with the tools of Deep Democracy in challenging organizational and community settings since 2006. Her PhD research was the first comprehensive attempt at applying and studying the Lewis Method of Deep Democracy in North American. She has trained or coached over 200 people in these methodologies.

Aftab Erfan


“We offer trainings, consulting and community events throughout North America. Our standard starter training is a 2-day face-to-face course called CoResolve: Deep Democracy for Leaders and Managers. For those who want to continue we offer online resources, coaching and supervision, which can lead to advanced training down the road. We also offer an experience of Deep Democracy though Civic Dialogues around topical issues. Find an open enrolment event near you.”


I came to  CoResolve  thinking that if I could pick up one or two things it would be worth the time. The course greatly exceeded my expectations.

Laurie Ford, Senior Engineer, Metro Vancouver

CoResolve is a 2 day course for managers and leaders who find themselves working with  interpersonal, team and client dynamics. Based on the underpinnings of the Lewis Method of Deep Democracy, this specialized course covers the theory and practice of managing up, managing down and managing across within complex organizations.

It is a highly experiential course, limited to 10 participants, applicable to both experienced and emerging leaders. We also offer a full suite of Deep Democracy trainings for those who want to gain mastery.

I have been a successful leader in my field for a number of years, yet Sera’s Deep Democracy-based coaching really helped me take my skills to a new level.

Maggy Burns, Managing Director, Ecology Action Centre

Our coaching and supervision programs complement and strengthen course offerings. Time spent one-on-one or in a small group with an experienced coach allows leaders to integrate and deepen their learning of Deep Democracy. 

Coaching helps develop technical skills, build confidence through practice opportunities, and foster the self-awareness and personal growth needed for mastery of these techniques.

I thought I had figured out what this was about. The event, however, was eye opening. It illuminated the validity of the variety of perspectives that were there.

Olive Dempsey, Engagement Specialist, Lower Mainland Health Authorities

Civic Dialogues are an opportunity for a broad cross section of community members to come together to discuss a topical issue or mutual challenge. Using large group techniques of the Lewis Method of Deep Democracy, these occasions enable groups to explore otherwise untouchable challenges and gain insight into how to work with them at both an individual and collective level. 

We have convened Civic Dialogues on topics ranging from controversial urban development projects, to refugee settlement decisions in rural communities, and the broader dilemmas of how to live and engage in an uncertain world.

Aftab facilitated us through one of the most divisive issues our organization has ever faced. The process challenged us, but we came through the other side intact, and even more open and united as a team.

Drew Dennis, Former Executive Director, Out on Screen

We facilitate team meetings and stakeholder conversations that serve the double benefits of arriving at decisions and building stronger relationships. We design and deliver customized sessions ranging from a few hours to a few days to meet the specific needs of each team. 

We rely on the tools of Deep Democracy, along with other complementary methodologies, to help people have the strategic of difficult conversations they need to have, bringing out the wisdom and creativity inherent in groups.

I feel that deep democracy may be the most hopeful process that I have seen for universally getting to the heart of what separates us in our big social, cultural challenges.

Danny Graham, Lawyer and former Nova Scotia Elected Official

Conflict Resolution is at the centre of our expertise and often the reason we are called in by clients. When tempers flare and team or interpersonal dynamics become painful, it can throw everything out of balance. Our compassion, clear seeing, and skill in working sensitively with conflicts helps groups find their way to the other side.  

Developed in the fire of post-apartheid South Africa, our Deep Democracy tools are particularly apt at getting at the root of conflicts and making it safe to work with them in a productive manner and in favour of staying in relationship.

I am a senior organization development practitioner with many years of facilitation, mediation and conflict resolution training and practice. However, I was drawn to Deep Democracy and Co-Resolve because of the unique paradigm of the process that encourages the uncovering and amplifying of differences, in service of giving a voice to all and ensuring decisions arrived at are real decisions that can truly be committed to by all.  It was invaluable for me to do this training with two of my leadership team colleagues. As a result, we are exploring ways to bring this methodology to the teams of consultants we lead.

Yabome Gilpin-Jackson, Managing Consultant, Organization Development, Fraser Health

Deep Democracy was introduced at our non-profit organization almost ten years ago. Several generations of our staff and board members have been trained in the methodology. It has given us a language to talk about some of what’s happening at our organization (e.g. “there is a fish below the waterline!”) and has influenced our culture (e.g. we’re more attentive to dissent and talk often about making space for the “no”). We are looking forward to developing the capacity of a few staff members who will be our Deep Democracy champions in the years to come.  Aftab did her best to tailor the training to our needs and context. We really appreciate her work.

Stephanie Childs, Directrice des ressources humaines et des opérations I Director of Human Resources and Operations , Santropol Roulant

While this method fits easily into my everyday practice as a leader working with different groups, the practices provide new twists that are astonishing in their power to bridge and deepen conversations and lead to practical actions.

Michael Chender, Founder and Former CEO of Metals Economics Group

I went into the Co-resolve training hoping for a set of tools to address conflict in my work environment, which consists of mainly multi-disciplinary teamwork. I definitely came away with those tools but what really surprised me is how useful they are in all aspects of my life, especially within my family.

Beth Lewis, Business Analyst, First Nation and Inuit Health Branch - Health Canada

Conflict is a normal, yet often upsetting, part of all relationships. In the work context and as a leader, dealing well with conflict and differing points of views is essential to creating space where what needs to be said can be said.  CoResolve provides tools and helps develop skills to lead honest frank conversations with a focus on mutual understanding and resolution. I’d recommend this course to anyone who would like to develop their skills in a time when leadership requires delving into the conflict to find a better future.

Jocelyn Yerxa, Director of Programs and Community Development Coordinator, Nova Scotia Department of Seniors

As my coach and mentor in the Deep Democracy Personal Development program Aftab’s wisdom and skill, knowledge and compassion continue to be inspirational. Aftab’s neutrality and capacity to be present modelled something to which I aspire. I learned to trust myself, and hold and value my alternative view, my ‘no’, as well as my ‘yes’. Learning with Aftab is learning for life.

Susan Kilgour, Principal, Wulagi Primary School, Australian Northern Territory Department of Education and Training

I had the great pleasure and fortune to land Aftab Erfan as my coach in the Deep Democracy development Program I recently completed. Aftab is not only an obviously highly skilled practitioner but is also extremely generous in the sharing of her time, experience, practice and wisdom. The coaching sessions provided me with the opportunity to explore questions and concerns that I had during the course, and whilst doing so, practice the tools of Deep Democracy. In my coaching sessions with Aftab I gained insights into the methodology, and developed an immense appreciation of its application in everyday life. Aftab is a gem!

Julie Whitmore, Senior Conciliator and Review Officer, Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Commission

La formation sur la “Deep democracy” m’a transformée tout en douceur, mais a eu un impact significatif sur ma façon de percevoir et de vivre les relations humaines, dans une optique de prévention et de désamorçage des conflits. Cela m’est déjà très précieux, dans le contexte de mon milieu de travail et dans ma vie personnelle, non seulement à la compréhension des dynamiques qui nuisent à mon bien-être, mais également dans la prise d’initiatives pour y remédier. N’est-ce pas extraordinaire que de disposer d’outils pour améliorer sa vie, celle de ses proches et celle de ses collègues?! En ce qui me concerne la formation suivie avec Aftab et Sera a été révélatrice et m’a fourni toute une nouvelle gammes d’outils complémentaires à ceux que je possédais déjà, et j’irais jusqu’à dire nécessaires pour exercer un leadership plus inclusif et propice à une connexion authentique avec l’autre.

Stéphanie Belliard-Hogue, Analyste principale des politiques | Senior Policy Analyst, Foreign Affairs, Government of Canada

I want to once again thank you both for you excellent facilitation of the course over the past 2 days. You really practiced what you peach in creating an open space where were I really felt allowed to openly discuss my perspectives and bring forward my insights and questions on issues without feeling that I had to fight to be heard or somehow prove the validity or reasoning of my points. Your teaching methods were broad enough to capture several learning styles, from theoretical to hands on learning and walking us through examples that I feel these different approaches helped cement the Deep Democracy tools in my mind. I know that these tools can be powerful in helping me in my personal and professional life. Many thanks!

Dina Abdelhakim, Program Assistant, Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity

I came to the CoResolve session thinking that if I could pick up one or two things that I could use, it would be worth the time.  However, the course greatly exceeded my expectations, and has got me thinking about how critical the ability to work through conflict is (to stay in relationship), and needed all over the world, right now!  Lots to think about and put into practice.

Laurie Ford, P.Eng, Program Manager, Utility Residuals Management, Liquid Waste Services, Metro Vancouver

Sera coached me during my personal development program as part of my development journey in Deep Democracy facilitation. Through her coaching, Sera not only helped me in terms of improving my understanding and capability in Deep Democracy facilitation but also improved my understanding of who I am and how that impacted my facilitation work.

What I appreciated most was Sera’s calm, supportive and accepting presence, which was key to her creating a safe and open atmosphere for me to work on what was important for me.

Payam Yüce Işık, Executive and Team Coach, Facilitator, Tribe Consulting

Sera’s excellent coaching has provided me with powerful learning and helped we grow my leadership at key times and in important ways. In one instance our coaching session helped me step into my leadership role at a critical juncture. I knew what I needed to do as a leader but in my heart I wanted to take a different path. Sera’s process really transformed how I addressed this situation and I’m really proud of the results. I have been a successful leader in my field for a number of years yet Sera’s Deep Democracy-based coaching has really helped me take my skills to a new level.

Maggy Burns, Managing Director, Ecology Action Centre