Uncomfortable Conversations: Why you need them and how to have them

Coming August 2024! Be curious, not judgmental. Approach difficult conversations head-on and empathetically, not to assign blame but to better understand and create a welcoming work culture internally and inclusive experiences externally. The learning product "Uncomfortable Conversations in Parks and Recreation" delves into navigating the challenging discussions that surface in park and recreation settings and beyond. 

Leveraging insights from lived experiences on six continents with global organizations such as Disney, Olympics and TED / TEDx and utilizing communication lessons and social psychology, this course is designed for individuals working or volunteering in these areas. The curriculum emphasizes how to handle topics like inclusivity, environmental stewardship and cultural awareness with sensitivity and effectiveness.  

The goal is to empower learners with strategies for constructive dialogue and empathy, ultimately fostering an environment in park and recreation spaces where everyone feels welcome and a sense of belonging. This is vital for promoting community cohesion and ensuring equitable access to public amenities. 

This talk is available for 1 year after release date.

Learning Objectives:

1. The learners will be able to implement effective communication strategies to facilitate open and respectful dialogues about sensitive issues in park and recreation settings, ensuring conversations are inclusive and productive. 

2. The learners will be able to apply principles of empathy and cultural competence in their interactions with colleagues, stakeholders and the community, fostering an environment of understanding and respect within park and recreation management. 

3. The learners will be able to apply equity-focused assessment techniques to identify and mitigate systemic barriers within park and recreation environments, ensuring facilities and services are accessible and welcoming to all community members. 

Neelay Bhatt (he/him)

Founder & CEO

Next Practice Partners

Neelay’s career on six continents includes Disney, The Super Bowl, The Olympics, and years of consulting, public speaking and training. 

He champions “Ideas Worth Spreading” as the curator for TEDxIndianapolis, TEDxIndianapolisWomen and TEDxCollegePark and his role on the NRPA Board served to ensure “no child was left indoors”. He continues to give back by serving in a leadership role for the 2024 NBA All-Star and 2024 US Olympic Swimming and Diving Trials. 

As the Founder & CEO of Next Practice Partners, he combines inclusion and innovation to help agencies prepare for “what’s next” through planning, training, and technology solutions. 

Over his 25-year journey, he has keynoted worldwide, trained and coached Olympic Gold Medalists, Indy Car Race Drivers, Oxford Physicists and start up CEOs to tell their story and discover their WHY, developed the business plan for the first internationally certified cricket stadium in the US, and co-created the world’s largest municipal customer service & leadership training initiative for Chicago Park District’s 3000 employees. 

He is an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School and #1 ranked Sports Management Program at Ohio University and his Master and Strategic planning work with Atlanta, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Norfolk, San Diego etc. have recommended parks, arts, and sports facility development and improvements totaling over $2.5 billion, shaping a more innovative and inclusive future for all.

As a first-generation immigrant raised by three women and a father who always showed up, he hopes to model the same for his two kids. These life experiences are woven into his keynotes on Innovation and Next Practices, the Power of One, and creating Magical Customer Service Cultures, and have inspired executives, professionals, startups, and students from Charlotte to China and from Switzerland to New Zealand.

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