Racial Justice Training: Heather Hackman

The Heather Hackman Consulting Group works with organizations to conduct trainings on diversity, equity, and social justice issues. Heather Hackman works with predominantly white organizations that are looking to jumpstart their work surrounding equity and racial justice. When an organization hires Heather, she conducts an initial training and works with leadership within the organization to make a plan to integrate racial justice into the fabric of the organization. 1

The First Universalist hired Heather Hackman in 2013 to implement her services at the First Universalist. After three years, the church completed its sixth round of trainings, and in 2016 they were in “maintenance mode,” during which the Hackman Consulting Group lent support when needed. Kate Eubank of the Hackman Consulting Group explained that “Heather works hard when she does training to do pre-work to understand the motivation of the organization, because ultimately racial justice work is not one size fits all.” In order for Heather’s services to be effective, racial justice “has to be part of the blood and mission of the organization; it has to be interwoven with the reason that the congregants are there.”2

The goal of Heather’s work is to give organizations the foundation and shared language to recognize and challenge racism as it happens in their organization.

Because Heather works with white-dominated organizations, she focuses on “helping white folks deconstruct racism and help people of color in these white spaces through the process of learning how to talk to white people about race.” Overall, Heather strives to “give organizations the foundation and shared language to recognize and challenge racism as it happens in their organization.”

At the First Universalist, Heather began the process with an initial training, which she breaks into five parts:

  1. The foundation of race

  2. The social construction and American narrative of race

  3. The systemic nature of racism

  4. Whiteness, white privilege, and white supremacy

  5. Implementation of racial justice work in daily lives

Heather held a series of workshops and sermons to prepare the congregation for their journey towards racial justice. Then, Heather conducted a three day training for various groups in the congregation, including all of the church’s ministers. Following the three-day training, Heather also offered a “train the trainer” series, which taught members of the congregation how to facilitate their own trainings, which has enabled the church to hold ongoing trainings.

congregants had commitment and self-discipline to stick with the work.

Connection with Ministers and other Leadership:

Kate Eubank explained that Heather has been “engaged with Justin and the other ministers in supporting them. The critical thing is people are going to have questions and give pushback, and the leadership of the organization has to be ready to respond to that.” Kate also noticed that congregants at the First Universalist generally received Heather’s work with optimism and willingness to work through these challenging topics. She credits this open reception to “Justin and the ministry leadership and folks in the congregation who were doing racial justice work before Heather arrived.” Because the congregation had already begun the racial justice learning process, she said that “the congregation was prepared for this work.” Lena Gardner, a First Universalist congregant and one of the core members of the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis movement, also helped prepare the church for its racial justice journey.

Challenges with Racial Justice Training:

Although the First Universalist welcomed Heather’s training, Kate recognized that racial justice training does not come without challenges. She said that in this type of work people “can be really on board in theory, but then they come up against something in the work that is threatening.”

Because every congregant enters trainings at a different stage in their involvement with racial justice, each person needs to “work through their resistance” at different times. Luckily, Kate said that, “the leadership team knew to expect and lent support, and congregants had commitment and self-discipline to stick with the work.”



  1. All remaining quotes on this page retrieved from: Kate Eubank, Interview by Natalie Jacobson, May 20, 2016.