Cheri Torres
Collaborative by Design
135 Westwood Place
Asheville, NC 28806
Unpaid Non-Profit Work (years):
Consulting Experience (years):
Summary of your consulting practice and relevant experience:

I am Lead Catalyst at Collaborative by Design and guest lecturer at Lenoir Rhyne University. The foundation of my work is Appreciative Inquiry, one of the most widely used approaches for systems change. My work is grounded in neuroscience and positive psychology, and I am adept at helping others understand how their interactions influence their well-being and ability to succeed. Having written numerous books and articles, I am most excited about my most recent book: A Berrett Koehler bestseller, Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement. In a nutshell, I work with communities and organizations to support productivity and meaningful engagement at all levels of the system. I consult, train, and facilitate:

  • Leadership and team development
  • Conversation Bootcamps
  • Strategic Planning
  • Complex problem-solving with whole system engagement processes
  • Cultural values clarification

The processes I use are inclusive, experiential, effective, and efficient. The tools and skills I teach are simple and effective in creating highly functional teams and systems.


Organizational Development/Change

Kate Pett Consulting
Strategic Planning
Kate Pett
Participated in the Listening Project for the Asheville middle school sponsored by the Asheville City School Foundation. Subsequently, I worked with a core team to design and facilitate a whole system strategic planning summit. 100 participants, including students, parents, teachers, administrators, after school program directors, and other interested community members attending. Grounded in the data from the listening project, the participants created an after school program that maximized collaboration among members of the city and school, maximized outcomes for students, and minimized costs. Participants followed through on the initiatives from the planning process and implemented the first middle school after school program in the county. Ten years later it is still thriving, growing, and achieving its goals.
Meet the Geeks
Strategic Planning
Tracy Schmidt
Board Chair
Worked with a core planning team to design, fund, and facilitate a 100-person, 2-day summit on developing the digital future for WNC. The summit was grounded in Appreciative Inquiry. One hundred IT and technology people from across the region came together to identify current technology strengths, envision a future where technology supported the social, economic, and health of the region, and developed a strategic plan and set of initiatives to support that future. Following the summit, several of the initiatives moved forward addressing needs in the area of seniors, transportation, and social enterprise.

Organizational Management

Rainbow Community School
Strategic Planning, Leadership, & Team Development
Renee Owen
Executive Director
Provided whole systems strategic planning facilitation in 2012 and more recently leadership and team training on Appreciative Inquiry and Conversations Worth Having. In 2012, Rainbow developed a 5 year plan. In less than 5 years, they achieved every one of their goals, including blue sky goals. They doubled their physical plant, double the student body, and almost doubled their income. In 2018 I facilitated a collaborative and restorative passage through a difficult time, and subsequently provided training in my approach to planning, development, and communication for a core leadership team, and effective communication for the faculty, board, and parents. The work in 2018 has been restorative and progressive; they just successfully completed their own Appreciative Inquiry strategic planning summit.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville
Leadership & Team Training
Mark Ward
Provided a series of 1-hour workshops on Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and communication for the administrative staff at the church. The training introduced two practices that help people have conversations worth having, especially in the face of conflict, frustration, and problems. In addition, Mark attended a 4-day training that I facilitated: Appreciative Inquiry Facilitation Training. This is a 4-day training to teach people about AI and train them to facilitate planning, change, and strategic conversations using AI.