Weekes In Advance Enterprises LLC is an organizational development firm offering facilitation, meeting design, change consulting, equity and inclusion, and collaborative skills capacity building services to the arts and entertainment, non-profit, and social innovation sectors. Social change architect Melinda Weekes-Laidlow is the Principal Consultant and President. She is also Founder/CEO of Beautiful Ventures, a creative social enterprise that influences popular culture, disrupts anti-blackness, and elevates perceptions of Black humanity.
Previously, Melinda was the Managing Director at Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, Senior Consultant at the Interaction Institute for Social Change, and for 10 years, practiced law representing artists, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations in New York City. In 2015, leading social impact fund Echoing Green named Melinda its first-ever Social Entrepreneur in Residence. Keep Reading
One of Melinda's great loves is teaching. Melinda has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on entertainment law, racial justice, design thinking, and leadership. She gives back to institutions that have shaped her -- as a member of Wesleyan University's Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship board, and as Co-Chair of the Wesleyan Black Alumni Council. Melinda currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Interaction Institute for Social Change and the Advisory Board of The Alliance Theater at Atlanta's Woodruff Center for the Arts. She loves fitness, good music, plant based food, oceans and quality time with friends and family. A native New Yorker born in The Bronx, Melinda is also a proud "Georgia Apple". She now makes home and community in the dynamic city of Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, actor Sekou Laidlow. Melinda is a graduate of Wesleyan University, studied at Spelman College, and holds degrees from New York University School of Law, and Harvard Divinity School. Go Back
Weekes In Advance Enterprises (WIAE) is an organizational development firm offering facilitation, meeting design, change consulting, equity and inclusion, and collaborative skills capacity building services to the arts and entertainment, non-profit, and social innovation sectors. We would be delighted to speak with you for a free scoping conversation to explore how WIAE might support you in achieving your vision of success.
Lisa Anderson, Vice President of Embodied Justice Leadership, Auburn Seminary
Under the leadership of Melinda Weekes-Laidlow, the team from Weekes in Advance Enterprises are simply amazing. We recently had the pleasure of working with Melinda and company on MountainTop, our organizations' 3-day long, 140-person, national convening. Whether they were leading the process of process design with our core team, helping to translate the vision of the leadership into concrete sessions, securing the best graphic recorders to chronicle the work or holding space at the front of the room, everything was handled with the perfect combination of excellence, and generosity of spirit. The fact that our convening was a magnificent success was due in large part to Weekes in Advance Enterprises. Melinda leads with integrity, focus, humor, and purpose, and inspires the same in everyone around her. Forever grateful and I cannot wait for the next time!
Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director, Center for Action and Contemplation
In their facilitation, Melinda and Curtis showed a rare capacity to call forth dreams we all share for a more equitable world while also applying their deep professional experience and savvy to operationalize our aspirations within the context and complexities of our mission and workplace. This work of racial equity is hard, but their training, tools, and coaching set us up to be on a continuous journey of learning and application that is already having a transformative impact. Where I know I would have shrunk away or sped to an answer in the past, during difficult times (in our organization and societally) I have found a new muscle to acknowledge and hold pain, allow for reactivity, and consider creative solutions. I am very clear this is the result of our work with the team from Weekes In Advance Enterprises.
Maurine Knighton, Foundation Program Director
The Weekes in Advance Enterprises team hit the ground running, paying great attention to detail for the planning efforts for our learning exchanges. They consistently received high marks from exchange participants. All of this was grounded by a clear sense of their organizational values and commitment to social justice.
David Nee, former Executive Director, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund
Melinda and Curtis played a lead role in designing and facilitating dialogues where people could talk about and explore sensitive issues without feeling a need to know the answers. As they often reminded us, “Sometimes the rush to a solution is a privileged move that avoids discussion of the real issues.” The conversations we fostered rippled into other arenas and brought the issues of systemic racism to more public spaces, including the annual Stone Soup Conference. As one state government leader said, “We need this work to continue. This is a conversation that we aren’t having [but need to have] in my agency.”
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Settler colonialism and racism are the most difficult, intractable and pernicious problems we face as a nation, in communities, as institutions, and individually. As a social justice consultant, trainer, capacity builder, and advocate for decades, I help groups learn together, design, practice, and operationalize anti-racist cultures that are resilient, relational and inclusive. This is hard work. Yet, WIAE's specially curated teams delight in meeting you where you are and supporting you in the journey towards equity and liberation. We fuse a multidisciplinary approach with both adaptive creativity and compassionate clarity to cultivate conditions for learning, practice, and transformation within your team, organization or network.
As a master facilitator, I can support your team, group, or convening of any size experience meetings where input is elicited, differences of opinions are welcomed, power dynamics accounted for, and the stated desired outcomes are achieved.
The secret to dynamic, engaging, and even transformative meetings, learning spaces, convenings, and events --- is the design work that happens before anyone enters the room. I will work with your team, and infuse my considerable design expertise, to co-create an exceptional experience for your meeting guests.
There are the everyday meetings --- and then there are meetings that just must go well. One of the things I love the most is working with teams to co-design just the right blend of process + content + secret sauce to produce gatherings that meet and exceed expectations.
I support groups with process guidance, coaching and facilitation to identify what will -- if they devote their resources and their attention to over a period of time --- enable them to make the most impact in ways that resonate with and animate their stated Values, Mission and Vision.
As the African proverb says: "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together". WIAE consultant teams are experts on the practices for how teams, organizations, and networks can share the load, foster trusting relationships, and deepen collective impact. Our interactive workshops and modeling practices are designed to bolster and ignite the collaborative capacity of your team or collective.
I love designing, training, and leading adult learning experiences. I have been certified as a master trainer by the Interaction Institute for Social Change. I have also taught undergraduates and graduate students on topics such as: design thinking, racial equity, entertainment law, contracts, and collaborative leadership.
When you have a large group of diverse perspectives, opinions, and interests to attend to, and you want your planning work to attract the voices, areas of expertise and approvals needed -- our expertise in complex planning and meeting design is just what is needed to support your success.
We are living in a time when our ways of working and expectations from the workplace are different and changing. Our systems thinking and relational culture-building approach to organizational change can build your team's capacity to thrive in this time of rapid change, disruption, and opportunity.
Institutions and structures tend to operate the way they were designed to operate. To change them -- we must bolster our skillfulness in thinking systemically, and then to acting strategically. Our training, facilitation, and coaching services help you to lead, thrive and flourish in today's complex and ever-changing context.
I would be delighted to serve as your keynote speaker, commentator, or preacher for your upcoming event. Topics of special interest include collaborative leadership, narrative change, disrupting antiblackness contemplative spirituality, liberation theologies and racial justice.
I am a seasoned conversation curator, with a special love for moderating interactive and dynamic panels, film and theater talkbacks, and interviews.
I have authored articles, blog posts, and a few poems. I would love to write a relevant piece for your magazine, blog, or publication.