Distinguished Fellow

Dorothy Cotton was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for twelve years under the direct supervision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Working closely with Dr. King, Dorothy served on his executive staff and was part of his entourage to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize.  She served as the Vice President for Field Operations for the Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. Dr. Cotton was the Director of Student Activities at Cornell University for nine years, and served as the Southeastern Regional Director of ACTION, the Federal Government’s Agency for volunteer programs for three years. She holds a Masters Degree from Boston University in the area of Special Education.

Dorothy serves as a valuable resource to organizations on diverse topics addressing race relations, multiculturalism/diversity, communication, personal development, spiritual growth, human relations, citizenship education, civic organizing for the 21st century and nonviolence education.

Currently she is involved in the expansion of the National Citizenship School in conjunction with Civic Organizing, Inc. of Minnesota. Dorothy’s upcoming book will focus on lessons from the historic citizenship education program and her work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And, of course, a cornerstone of her current work is the development of DCI.

Senior Fellows

Photo by George Gull

Laura Ward Branca is a managing partner of Training for Change (TFC) Associates, founded in Ithaca, New York in 1982. With her partner, Kirby Edmonds, TFC provides consulting and customized interactive training to local, national and international organizations–business, unions, government, educational, not-for-profits and grassroots groups. She leads training workshops and retreats focused on planning, organizational change, leadership development, communication, shared decision-making, managing conflict, diversity inclusion, and building culturally competent organizations and coalitions.

Laura is the Board President of Moosewood, Inc. and has been a co-owner since 1980. She has co-authored ten of their thirteen cookbooks. Bon Apetit Magazine named Moosewood “one of the thirteen most influential restaurants of the 20th Century.” Moosewood has a long history of supporting organizations committed to community service, health, education, social change and the arts.

Laura designs and leads the Multicultural Resource Center’s Talking Circles on Race and Racism™ and other safe, respectful dialogues on diversity and inclusion for the community, Cornell, Ithaca City School District, Tompkins County and City of Ithaca governments. She is a trained mediator with the Community Dispute Resolution Center, and has twenty-eight years’ experience resolving interpersonal, organizational and community conflicts and teaching conflict management and facilitation skills courses for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, SUNY Cortland, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the Institute for the Transformation of Conflict, among other audiences.


Photo by George Gull

Kirby Edmonds is a managing partner of TFC Associates, a human relations training and consulting firm based in Ithaca, New York.  Kirby is a management consultant, facilitator, mediator, facilitator and trainer with experience in the areas of managing conflict, team-building, supervisory issues, building and valuing diversity in the workplace, and stress in the work environment as well as network organization and management.  He has over 20 years of experience working in the public and private sectors, in higher education and with public schools. He has been a consultant to public-private partnerships and networks throughout the country and has worked directly with many work groups tasked with developing diversity initiatives for large organizations. He has written many training manuals on conflict management, cultural competency, communication skills, and group facilitation to name a few.

Kirby is a 2011 Civic Leaders Fellow at Cornell University.

Besides being a DCI Senior Fellow, Kirby is also the program coordinator. (Photo by George Gull)

Photo by George Gull

Dr. Margo Hittleman is a co-founder and the coordinator of the Natural Leaders Initiative (NLI)in Ithaca, NY. The Natural Leaders Initiative supports the growth of grassroots and “everyday” leaders, particularly from low/moderate-income communities and communities of color, and helps the entire community build its capacity to welcome, include, support and develop diverse community leadership.

Margo also leads community-based and professional development workshops on leadership; staff and organizational development; supporting diversity and inclusion; effective strategies for social and organizational change; action research; and participatory evaluation. She has been worked in and with community service, educational and social change organizations for nearly three decades.

In 2008-9, Margo was a Civic Leaders Fellow at Cornell University. She has taught courses (at Cornell) on leadership, education and social change, and is the recipient of three teaching awards from Cornell’s Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines. Her published writing includes Winning Decisions: Getting It Right the First Time (Doubleday, 2002), Counting Caring: Attending to the Human in an Age of Public Management (Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2007), and a chapter in the Research Companion to Leadership Studies: The Dialogue of Disciplines (forthcoming). She received her PhD in Adult Education from Cornell University. (Photo by George Gull)