Our History

The GFSC Story

For years, professional facilitators have been called upon to serve community needs in places and situations where the communities do not have the economic resources to pay for these services. Global Facilitator Serving Communities (GFSC), an outgrowth of the Community Outreach initiative of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), began as an organized effort to respond to these requests and expand the base of professionals with specific skills/techniques to address communities’ needs in times of change and/or crisis.

In 2002, the former coordinator of the IAF Community Outreach Initiative, Lenny Diamond with Mirja Hansen, Jim Troxel and Francisco Fernandez, brought together a small group of interested energetic facilitators to form GFSC. Since GFSC’s incorporation in 2002, the demand for our distinctive disaster & crisis intervention (DCI) facilitation model has grown dramatically.

Our model and “cascading” delivery philosophy,(training and mentoring local facilitators in their own communities so that they can then share techniques and train others throughout their communities), began in 1986. The key concepts of the GFSC model were developed by Drs. Gilbert Brenson-Lazan and María Mercedes Sarmiento Díaz (1947-2003), who focused on psychosocial reconstruction after natural and social disasters. They worked with the victims of  the 1986 Arenas Volcano eruption and the ensuing avalanche that buried Armero, one of the most beautiful towns in Colombia. Twenty five thousand people lost their lives and another two hundred thousand people were affected by the human and financial loss. Gilbert and Mechas wrote several self-help manuals for adults, children and professionals assisting in recovery efforts. Over the years these manuals have been updated to reflect new research and effective techniques and are available in the GFSC Online Library.

Since that tragedy, nearly one thousand professionals have been trained and mentored in these techniques in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela), Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and the USA. GFSC facilitated a dynamic and successful process of building community capacity in New Orleans after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We have also worked with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, training community volunteers.

All over the world there are tremendous challenges: economic upheaval, social changes, natural disasters. Facilitation techniques are some of the most effective intervention tools for managing change, grief and building individuals’ as well as community resilience and self-reliance everywhere.

The success of our support to the communities, institutions and professionals that provide help to victims and others affected by tragedy, directly or indirectly, is made possible, in great part, by the hundreds of professionals and other volunteers who have trained to work in this area, and who have donated time and money to train hundreds of facilitators and distribute thousands of manuals.

Our process and distribution system apply in many more situations of change than originally defined. Together, they help communities build resilience and self-reliance necessary to face future challenges in more positive and productive ways. Ideally, our goal is to reach out to communities before a disaster strikes, rather than in reaction to a tragedy.To address the needs of communities everywhere around the world, GFSC tries to take advantage of existing technology to communicate, mentor and consult with organizations, communities and facilitators, where ever they are.