DebSalasphotoDeborah Salas joined Creative Ground in September 2014 as a strategic partner.  She has been a management leader in organizations ranging from corporate high tech to arts and education non-profits for over 30 years.  She is currently a lecturer/instructor at the University of Washington, School of Social Work.  Along with her expertise in social work, she brings extensive experience in community building.

Building on her work in community schools strategies and classroom instruction, Deborah is currently focusing her energies on facilitating conversations to deeply explore emergent issues, reach common understanding from divergent points of view and building project action plans.  She constructs this work using tools from ToP (Technology of Participation) Facilitation Methods and Crucial Conversations.

In 2000, Deborah was part of a founding collaborative of the (Tukwila) Community Schools Collaboration, an organization developed as a public/private partnership established to support community development and education in low-income communities. After winning the Coalition for Community Schools National Award for Excellence in 2007, the organization expanded into the Highline School District.  She also co-founded the West Coast Collaborative, a partnership developed to provide technical assistance in community school work.  She provided training for city, education and community leaders from Washington, Oregon and California.

Through her work with the West Coast Collaborative, Deborah was also a contributor to “The Role of Community Schools in Place-Based Initiatives” a white-paper documenting best practices for aligning resources and leveraging partnerships.  The paper has been widely published across the country.

Deborah grew up in Spokane, Washington. She spent ten years working in customer service and sales in two high-tech companies in Silicon Valley before returning to Washington State.  While completing her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Washington, she provided family counseling at the Skokomish Tribe and was the Social Services Manager at the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency.  Upon completion of her degree, she became the executive director of an arts & education organization before entering community school work.

Contact at:

“Having crucial conversations is one of my weaknesses. I feel uncomfortable when these situations arise.  Sometimes I try to avoid them but avoiding them can make situations worse.   With the help of Deborah giving me the right tools and strategies to have these difficult conversations, I feel more confident when these conversations come up.”

– Jeannie Shek, Supervisor, The Amy Yee Tennis Center

“Deborah helped our staff design a retreat that wove both the “why”, the strategic goals of our team’s work together, and the “how”, the values we want to live by as we do that work, into a day that was pleasant and meaningful.  Her facilitation was artful – light and effective.” 

– Jill Crary, Director, Seattle Center Redevelopment

“Deborah’s warm, outgoing personality contributes to her positive working relationships. She intuitively understands how to link people and entities in order to resolve issues win-win, and does so with grace. She sees the big picture—the system—yet understands the specific strategies that will get her and others to a satisfactory and mutually beneficial goal.”

–  Suzanne Y. Yerian, Ph.D., Pacific Lutheran University




Leave Comment