Now more than ever, we need tools to be in relationships with our loved ones, our community members, our movement partners, and our fellow humans around the world. With Bridging Divides, you’ll learn about and experiment with some of the most effective tools and strategies engaged by faith-rooted organizers to recognize and respect common humanity as we work for justice, and you will be supported to iterate a strategy ideally suited for your community or challenge.


  • A range of successful strategies to listen, share, and be with people who do not see eye to eye.
  • A plan to engage difficult conversations with greater skill — and to train leaders in your community to facilitate such conversations in group settings.


Our trainers travel anywhere in the U.S. and around the world. We also have a state-of-the-art meeting space in Manhattan. Trainings are offered for a fee, and occasionally Auburn can assist groups in fundraising to cover the training costs.

Contact our Director of Program Operations, Courtney Weber Hoover at [email protected], or call 212-870-3187.


Macky Alston is a Senior Vice President at Auburn Seminary, where he works to equip faith leaders to stand for justice. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, Macky founded Auburn Media in 2002 and since then has served as its director, innovating a range of programs related to media and religion and media training over 6,000 leaders on a wide range of justice issues, including many of the most influential faith leaders of our day. Macky’s films include Love Free or Die – PBS 2012; Hard Road Home – PBS ’08, The Killer Within – Discovery Films ’06, Questioning Faith – HBO ‘02, and Family Name – PBS ’98. He has won at Sundance twice and received the Gotham Open Palm Award, three Emmy nominations, and appeared widely in the press, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and The New York Times. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary, he comes from a long line of ministers in the American South and grew up exposed to the power of religion, politics and the media, as charismatic leaders on the Left and Right shaped society and history for generations to come.

Rev. Cedric A. Harmon works directly with Black religious leaders and other people of faith to engage diverse topics at the intersection of religion, faith and human sexuality. An ordained pastor affiliated with the National Baptist and Missionary Baptist Churches, he provides trainings, workshops, coaching, and presentations—always creating a safe space to connect the concerns of LGBT families with Black churches’ historic commitment to liberation, freedom, and justice.

Formerly, he served as religious organizer for Americans United for Separation of Church and State where for 13 years, he recruited and trained clergy from around the country to provide legislative testimony about issues of religion and government. He’s also known for his writing and television appearances—again on human rights and social justice—and serves on several boards having to do with sexuality and religion.

Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted author, activist, and pastor, working at the intersections of spirituality and social renewal. Robertson currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego, CA and works as an instructor, consultant, and organizer with various national and international NGO’s, religious denominations, and governmental organizations.

Robertson is the author or contributing author to seven books including Nomad: A Spirituality For Traveling Light (2016), True Inclusion: Creating Communities of Radical Embrace (2018), and Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians (2018). He writes regularly for Patheos, and has published numerous pieces with bylines in TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, NBC, and The Washington Post.

Robertson received his B.A. in Pastoral Ministry and Theology from Moody Bible Institute and his Masters of Theological Studies focused on sexual and gender justice from Iliff School of Theology. He currently resides in San Diego, CA.

Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, a daughter of Detroit, is the Faith Work Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, the country’s oldest national LGBTQ justice and equality group. In that role, she coordinates the Task Force’s public faith messaging and advocacy and leadership development work in faith communities. Naomi is also an adjunct professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University.

Before joining the Task Force, Naomi was a faith organizer for POWER, a multi-faith, multi-racial network of congregations in metro Philadelphia. She also served as Co-Pastor and Minister of Music at the Wisdom’s Table at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ. She earned the Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 2016 and is affiliated with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and the United Church of Christ.

Naomi delights in singing with the Philadelphia Threshold Singers, a choir whose mission is to bring audible comfort and kindness at the bedsides of people living in hospice care. She is a board member of the Pennsylvania Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice. In 2016, Naomi was invited to serve as a member of the Faith and Spiritual Affairs Advisory Board of the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services. In 2017, she was appointed by Mayor John Kenney to the Philadelphia Commission on LGBT Affairs.

Naomi’s work is included in the volume, From Generation to Generation: A Commemorative Collection of African American Millennial Sermons from the Festival of Preachers 2010-2015 (Chalice Press, 2015). Her writing can also been seen on Medium, Religion Dispatches, and Rewire.News. She regularly preaches and teaches in diverse faith communities around the country.

Naomi shares her life with her wife, Kentina, a chaplain and religious educator. Together, they are raising a curious, energetic, future Oscar-winning middle-schooler.

Rev. Dr. Christine Y. Wiley retired from the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington, DC along with her husband, Rev. Dr. Dennis W. Wiley after serving for 32 years. Reverend Wiley is a significant leader for justice in the Washington DC community. She served on the strategy leadership team of the IAF Washington Interfaith Network, a community organizing group, and is a founding leader of DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality that helped to bring Marriage Equality to the District of Columbia. Together with her husband, Dr. Wiley is known as a soldier for Justice. Together they have broken down barriers of oppression for women; developed empowering programs for those who are disenfranchised; addressed issues of mass incarceration; and fought bigotry regarding the LGBT community. Together, the Wiley’s led their church to become an open and affirming congregation of LGBT persons. “Black Lives Matter” meetings are held in Covenant Baptist UCC because of a desire to address Racism and the intersections of oppression. She serves on a number of national and community boards and initiatives. Rev. Wiley has taught and lectured at a number of seminaries in the areas of pastoral counseling, prophetic ministry, field Studies, and social work. She currently teaches in the M.Div./MSW dual degree program at Howard University in Washington DC. She is recognized as an astute practitioner and licensed therapist who consults with church, community, and government organizations. As a graduate of Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, she received the Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Psychotherapy and also holds the MSW degree and Ph.D. in social work from Howard University. As a practicing psychotherapist She has authored articles regarding counseling, caregiving, psychotherapy, and oppression in the African American community. Rev. Wiley has three adult children and five grandchildren.


Appelbaum, Yoni, “How One Pastor Is Bridging the Partisan Divide: Adam Hamilton takes on controversial social issues from the pulpit, challenging his politically divided congregation to find common ground.” The Atlantic, 6/27/17.

Bentley, Rosalind. “After Philando Castile, 2 churches in Roswell seek racial reconciliation.” Atlanta Journal Constitution, 07/20/17.

Brown, Rachel. Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech. United States Holocaust Museum, 2016.

Ellison, II, Gregory C. Fearless Dialogues: A New Justice Movement (Westminster John Knox Press, 2017).

Ellison, II, Rev. Dr. Gregory. “Fearless Dialogues.” Video: Yale Youth Ministry Institute, 7/18/2014.

Guzman, Monica, “Seattleites Took a 10-hour Road Trip to Cross a Political Divide. Here’s What Happened.” The Evergrey, 3/7/17.

Haidt, Jonathan. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. (Pantheon, 2012)

Haidt, Jonathan. “The moral roots of liberals and conservatives.” TEDTalk, 2/2008.

Palmer, Parker. Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. Jossey-Bass, 2011.

Patel, Eboo. Interfaith Leadership: A Primer. Beacon Press, 2016.

Patterson, Kerry, Joseph Grenny and Ron McMillan, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. (McGraw Hill, 2011)

Perez, Robert and Amy Simon. Heartwired: Human Behavior, Strategic Opinion Research and the Audacious Pursuit of Social Change – A Strategy Guide for Changemakers.

Rosenberg, Marshall. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships (Nonviolent Communication Guides)  (Puddledancer Press, 2003)

Scott, Susan. Fierce Conversations. (New American Library/Penguin/Random House, 2017)

Tippett, Krista. Civil Conversations Project Guide

Herzig, Maggie and John Sarrouf, Reaching Across the Red/Blue Divide (Essential Partners, Inc.)

Auburn Webinars:

Bridging Divides: Brave Space with Micky ScottBey Jones, Faith Matters Network, June 30, 2017

Bridging Divides: Exploring Methodologies with Parisa Parsa, Essential Partners, November 16, 2017

Bridging Divides: The Stories That Will Save Us with Michael McRay, Narrative 4, December 14, 2017

Bridging Divides, Exploring Methodologies with Andrew Hanauer, One America Movement, January 11, 2018

Bridging Divides, Exploring Methodologies with Rachel Brown, Over Zero, March 22, 2018

Bridging Divides, Exploring Methodologies with Mike Niconchuk, Beyond Conflict, May 31, 2018


Friends in the business:

Essential Partners

Faith Matters Network

Fearless Dialogues

Interfaith Youth Core

Narrative 4

One America Movement

Over Zero

Resetting the Table

The People’s Supper

Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom