Building Our Own Table: Dr. Lynne Maureen Hurdle

Meet the founder of Hur Communication Solutions and On The Matter of Race Program

Hello friends,

One of the questions that often comes up in this work is how to have the hardest conversations with those closest to you. Please meet Dr. Lynne Maureen Hurdle, who has a programme that does exactly that …

Dr. Lynne, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Hur Communication Solutions

Prior to founding my company, I worked in non-profit agencies and schools teaching conflict resolution skills and techniques to whole school communities (i.e. administrators, students, teachers, parents, etc.) and agency employees. I also taught them how to implement mediation and conflict resolution programs, delivered diversity workshops and taught contemplative skills and wrote and taught conflict resolution curriculum for grades K-12. I taught mediation and negotiation skills as an adjunct professor at Syracuse University, NYU and John Jay College.

On top of all this, I was a board member and actively involved in one of the largest international conflict resolution organizations ACR and taught my two sons how to deliver conflict resolution workshops alongside of me at very young ages.

Give me the elevator pitch for Hur Communication Solutions

I'm known as The Conflict Closer and my work is to bring people closer to conflict in order to develop the skills to engage in it skillfully, productively and powerfully. My company is leaving the legacy of breaking through barriers to heal hearts, spirits and minds through powerful conversations.

Please tell us more about the On The Matter of Race programme

My On The Matter of Race Program (OTMR) was created in 2019 in response to two of my former conflict coaching clients who identify as white women. They asked me if I had any interest in creating a program for white people like them who for the first time in their lives were making friends in business who were Black, Asian and Latino/Latinx and did not know anything about racism and felt paralyzed when it would come up.

My initial response was "no, cause ya'll are resistant in anti-racist workshops and I don't want to create something that personal and deal with folk who are there to teach me or be convinced."

Photo of Dr Lynne Maureen Hurdle

The more I thought about it and the two women who were asking the question, the more I thought that I was supposed to do it with parameters. Everyone has to be interviewed, you can't just put your money down and in that interview I want to hear their why and where and how they want to take action to have these conversations and to help communities of color in our efforts to dismantle racism.

OTMR is a six-month journey for each level where the work is both internal examination as well as external information being learned. We have guest speakers who are doing the work like Michelle MiJung Kim, Naomi Raquel Enright and Dr. Linda Lausell Bryant to name a few who impart their wisdom but we also have experts who are perhaps not so well known but have the lived experience.

The intention is to begin to introduce them to what racism really is, not just episodic but systemic and to challenge them to examine how they are upholding racist beliefs, practices and policies. The first group of 8 wanted to continue on to Level 2 and when George Floyd was murdered we expanded to 5 groups. We now have Level 1 - Level 5 and a 90% retention rate along with a C-Suite group in the company Equinix and we are currently recruiting for a new Level 1 group.

We only take up to 12 people in each group. The two women who made the request have stayed with us and are now in Level 5 and we are now hosting our second summit on racism and having our first in-person conference in September in Washington DC.

What inequity were you trying to address, and why is this important?

Racism in all forms. So many reasons. It's personal. As an African American mother of two Black sons and the widow of an amazing Black man who was committed to this work and died three years ago from health issues exacerbated by the work he was doing, I have to be committed. As a conflict resolution strategist for over 40 years, the conversations around DEI have always been of interest to me and last but not least, having almost lost my life to a terrifying racial incident when I was 17, I know this has to be a big part of my work.

How’s it going? What has the response been?

The response has been white people who crave the community and space to learn about and talk about racism while receiving direct, honest feedback in love.

My youngest son who is 21 and has had some really horrible experiences with white teachers, administrators and students in school was eavesdropping one night and asked if he could sit and listen to a session. I featured him as a guest speaker instead and he has come in and is learning the co-facilitator role and I tell you they love him. For the majority of them he is the only young black male that they have ever gotten to know and learn from.

We have married couples who began at level 1 and are in Level 4 and 5. Folks want to stay in community and level up. The actions they are taking run the gamut from having the tough conversations with family to bringing it into their workplaces or bringing me in or to changing the policies in their small businesses and more.

What’s next?

Our first live and In-person OTMR conference will take place September 15-18th in Washington DC and will include, among other ,things a guided tour of The Smithsonian National Museum of African American of history and Culture with a facilitated debriefing after. We also will host our third Summit in November. We are looking to expand the number of Level 1 groups to 2 -4.

In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?

Our vision is to host conversations through Summits and conferences that are open to everyone which they are now but we want to do it on a wider scale. To be honest our vision is engaging more white people in the work of learning about and taking action to help dismantle racism especially the white "moderate" who often think they already know and are doing enough.

Our intention is to expose ourselves and OTMR participants to the work of others who are really committed to this and create ways to genuinely and actively support each other. We intend to create a network of folks, especially white people who understand it and are using their privilege to work to dismantle it in every system.

Is there anything I haven't asked you that you'd like to add?

I should add that what makes us stand out is as a conflict resolution strategist I teach the skills of having the conversation in ways that don't just push folks away but can leave the door open for another and another conversation. We have had participants who thought they would never be able to engage particular family members in constructive conversation on racism and who met with resistance on the first couple of conversations who were stunned that they actually had conversations where the person started to get it and wanted to talk more.

Thank you, Dr. Lynne. I’m certainly inspired. Folx, you can connect with Dr. Lynne Maureen Hurdle on her website, on LinkedIn, and on Instagram. And please share what stood out for you from this interview.

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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Cover photo courtesy of Canva.

I am an anti-racism educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

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