Meet Us

Dave Russell

IMG_20160807_174509In the summer of 2004 in Edgewood, at a yard sale, I found a magazine article that has, for the past few years, had a major impact on my life. The article was by a woman who had been studying Buddhism for many years and who had recently attended a workshop on NVC with Marshall Rosenberg. She was comparing Nonviolent Communication with the concept, in Buddhism, of “Right Speech.”

At the time I had been working in the field of spouse abuse prevention and violence cessation for about 23 years and thought that Nonviolent Communication was right down my street. I bought Marshall’s first book and was so impressed that I sought out classes in NVC. The first workshop I attended was in December of that year in Cleveland with Rita Herzog. In 2005 I attended two international intensive training’s and to date have received over 200 hours training from certified trainers, 30 of those hours with Dr. Rosenberg himself.
After about 2 years studying NVC, I began to share some of the basics in a workshop format and to date have led or co-led 7 basic introductions to what we now more often refer to as Compassionate Communication.
I now believe that I was first attracted to Compassionate Communication when I saw how it brought people of different backgrounds into productive and conflict transforming dialogue.
Kathleen Gera47a2d631b3127cce98548a5a291600000035102IYtG7Fm5aice
When reading Marshall Rosenberg’s book Non-violent Communication: A Language of Life about 3 years ago it evoked a passion in me to be able to embody the skills and consciousness of peace making that he described in his book. Since attending several NVC retreats I’ve been amazed how much it has benefited both my personal and professional life.
Claus Makowka
Claus-1Dave Russell introduced me to NVC in 2009.  The practical and prescriptive framework was immediately appealing to my inner engineer.  Over the following  years, I participated in a number of study groups and workshops that have more than fulfilled that initial promise.  Drawn by a desire to have more meaningful conversations, I have come to value the contributions to my own peace and harmony.
Aware of the large costs that unbridled conflict inflicts on our society and the world, I find in NVC a hopeful vision for resolving conflicts in a meaningful way to increase the peace and harmony in our world.  This compels me to help bring NVC to a larger audience.
Bill Vandivier

IMG_1546I was attracted to NVC Through my friendship with David Russell. I have been drawn to the idea of non-violence for many years, beginning with objecting to the Vietnam war in college and more recently to the two Iraq wars, and several military actions in between. When I learned several years ago that Dave was leading a study group on non-violent communication, I was glad for the opportunity to strengthen my connection with him, and to explore this new way of counteracting the powerful tendency to use violence to achieve our goals.

I am an active member of Waverly Presbyterian Church in Regent Square, where I met Karen Sloan and Dave Carlton. Together, we participated in a Sunday school study group of NVC, and when I learned of their strong interest he introduced them to Dave Russell. Seeing the international network of NVC practitioners take root in Pittsburgh gives me hope.

Nonviolent communication is a language-based tool which builds compassion between people, decreases the destructive effects of conflict, and increases the likelihood that all parties in conflict can have their most important needs met. Like any tool, NVC requires study to learn the skill, and practice to use it effectively. Bill is glad to be a part of the growing Compassionate Pittsburgh network.

Dave Carlton
I first learned about NVC in 2009 while listening to Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life on CD in the car driving to and from work. As I listened I heard Marshall Rosenberg describe phrases and words, that I had used regularly, and then explain the unfavorable consequences that can come from using them.  Initially, I was defensive and repulsed, yet I kept listening and I am now grateful that I did. The more I listened I heard someone wanting to teach me how to love in ways I hadn’t known before. I went on to go to several trainings and workshops with my wife, Karen Sloan, and we have informally shared NVC with friends.
Karen Sloankaren-for-cp-website
Nonviolent Communication brings so much flexibility in how it is applied, from doing inner work within oneself, to work among large groups towards supporting meaningful shifts for entire communities.  In my own journey with NVC practice, it is a middle space of interpersonal work, improving my marriage and my parenting, that is my primary focus for building NVC skills.  
Discovering NVC was a happy accident of coming across books and CDs by Marshall Rosenberg, at a friend’s house, while preparing to get married.  My husband and I find the communication tools quite helpful in navigating difficult moments of being together.  Our smaller experiences with NVC then led to us reach out locally to others, some whose stories are also on this page, and eventually, traveling to Columbus, Ohio, and beyond, for in-depth training opportunities.  NVC’s deep well of practice opportunities means I have a much learning ahead for integrating these skills into more areas of my life, yet I am grateful for completing over 100 hours of training with certified NVC trainers.  
As someone who, from childhood on, is always eager to tell others about any resources I find that make my life more wonderful, I started teaching NVC-inspired workshops in recent years, most often as a team with my husband.  A particular focus within NVC teaching that energizes me is anything that moves our learning into realms of kinesthetic, tactile, and visual experiences, given my own personal struggles to focus while sitting still.  A few years ago, a shift in my NVC application occurred with the birth of our son, increasing my priority for digging into NVC parenting resources.  
Beyond NVC, I am a seeker of vibrant Christian life, with rooting in the Presbyterian Church (USA), among other formative spiritual influences.  A joyful surprise of NVC is the ways it adds substantive depth to my day-to-day lived out faith, taking my intellectual commitment to “love one another” into tangible, practical, expressions.  While my spiritual commitments are primary in shaping my core value of loving connection with others, it is Nonviolent Communication that keeps teaching me paths that achieve far more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Pat Ulbrich

I was introduced to NVC in 2009 when my husband, Claus Makowka, and I took a class offered by Dave Russell. As a sociologist I was interested in how the principles and practices of compassionate communication could help promote positive change in organizations and larger social systems. I’ve participated in multiple in-depth training opportunities with certified NVC trainers. I have come to appreciate that compassion for myself is basic to having trust and empathy in relation to others that is necessary to promote change. I am excited about sharing compassionate communication with others and growing a community in Pittsburgh.