About Jackie & Cheri

Leaders and teams who use the two simple practices in Conversations Worth Having will fuel the kinds of conversations that lead to high performance, productivity, innovation, and long-term success. . . for people and organizations. Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres combined have 50 years of experience in  practicing and teaching Appreciative Inquiry.  Their passion for focusing on strengths and possibilities leads them to use the Appreciative Inquiry methodology to support organization excellence and strategic planning, and to share the practices and principles with people to inspire high engagement, igniting the kind of creativity that generates positive change and meaningful results. Leaders and teams that have worked with them have achieved great success!
Jackie and Cheri have delivered workshops, keynote addresses, and webinars to thousands of people around the world, sharing the appreciative inquiry-based practices and their deep knowledge about the science of Appreciative Inquiry, positivity, and wellbeing in personal and organizational life. Their presentations are engaging and interactive. People leave knowing how they can turn any conversation into a conversation worth having!
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Cheri and Jackie have worked with many community colleges, universities, and school systems bringing Appreciative Inquiry practices and processes to support organization and student success.  One example is Rainbow Community School in Asheville, NC. After their year of engagement with Appreciative Inquiry training and strategic planning they took action. They doubled their physical plant, almost doubled the student body, and doubled their income in less than three years. In that same three years, they achieved all of their five year goals including their bluesky goals!


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Jackie and Cheri have worked with diverse healthcare communities, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, hospice, and organizations caring for the aging population. One example is Extendicare Health Services. Extendicare developed strategic initiatives and plans to foster positive energy, creativity, and engagement among all employees and residents to increase and maintain its census and delivery of quality care.


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Cheri and Jackie have worked with non-profits, NGOs, and community organizations to support whole system change. One example is the formation of the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council (ABFPC). Within two months the newly formed ABFPC hit the ground running with a short and long-term plan to address common community concerns regarding food availability, security, and policy. They achieved their short-term goals within one year: With an eye towards community collaboration, inclusion, and collective impact they established six community cluster groups focusing on all aspects of food, a representative council, and a collaborative governance model. They successfully introduced local governent policy changes that made way for additional fresh food availability in residential areas and an easier and faster licensing process. Several new food enterprises emerged to serve food deserts and those living in poverty. Their focus and efforts encouraged city government to add food into the city’s sustainability efforts. Fall of 2017 they introduced a new set of food policy goals and action plans based on a collaborative planning process; the city passed the plan. To review their accomplishments, see the 2017 Food Policy Plan.

Jackie Stavros, DM

Jackie’s passion is working with others to discover their strengths, identify opportunities and create a plan with meaningful results for positive change! She is internationally recognized for her creation of SOAR, a positive approach to strategic thinking, planning, and leading that focuses on strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results in strategic conversations (www.soar-strategy.com). The heart of her work is using Appreciative Inquiry (AI), one of the most popular approaches to positive change – that is bringing out the best in people, their organizations, and communities to fuel conversations worth having that produce meaningful engagement and results. She has presented her research and work in over 25 countries.
Jackie has been integrating strengths-based, whole system practices into her research, teaching, training, coaching, and consulting work to strengthen relationships, impact performance, and create positive change. She works with organizations in leadership development, team-building, and strategic planning. She helps organizations identify and articulate their values, vision, mission, strategy, and strategic initiatives and build collaborative teams and communities for results-oriented action. She has worked across all sectors including for-profit, non-profit, government, and a wide spectrum of industries. To learn more about how she g0t started with AI: http://positivitystrategist.com/ps77.
Jackie is a professor at Lawrence Technological University (LTU) College of Management and has been honored with the LTU Inaugural Presidential Research Award. She is Senior Appreciative Inquiry Strategist for Flourishing Leadership Institute and a member of the Appreciative Inquiry Council of Practitioners for the Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry and Taos Institute. Prior to joining LTU, her industry work includes manufacturing, automotive, banking, technology, education, healthcare, government, and professional services. As a college student, Jackie first professional position was a sales rep for Cutco Cutlery where the seed of positivity was planted by Cutco leaders.
Jackie has co-authored many books, book chapters, and articles including: Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leadership of Change, Dynamic Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living and Thin Book of SOAR: Building Strengths-based Strategy. She is a keynote speaker on AI, SOAR, positive approaches to leadership development and change. Jackie earned her Doctorate in Management from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She earned her MBA at Michigan State University and BA at Wayne State University. She lives in Brighton, MI with her husband, Paul, their kids, Ally and Adam, and lovable dog, Rex.  jackie@conversationsworthhaving.today 

Cheri B. Torres, Ph.D.

Cheri’s passion is helping people use everyday conversation to create positive dynamics in their relationships, organizations, and communities. She specializes in leadership, team development, and whole system strategic planning, emphasizing the art of productive and meaningful engagement through intentional conversation. She blends together Appreciative Inquiry and other strength-based conversation practices and grounds her work in the current research in positive psychology and neurophysiology. Leaders working with her learn to create the kind of relational dynamics that ignite the full potential of their teams and organization, resulting in high performance, innovation, and goal achievement. She partners with communities and organizations for whole systems change and strategic planning, bringing all stakeholders together for planning, design and collaborative action.
She has worked across all sectors: corporate, government, education, and social profit/NGOs, supporting their capacity for learning and innovation, shared leadership, teamwork and collective impact. She has trained thousands of trainers and teachers in the use and practice of Experiential Learning, Appreciative Inquiry, and other strengths-based processes. In addition to North America, she has worked in India, Mexico, Canada, South America, and Europe.
In 2009, Cheri founded Collaborative by Design, reflecting her commitment to collaborate with clients and other consulting groups for positive change. She currently is a founding partner or Associate with a number of such groups, including NextMove, Innovation Partners International, Insight Shift, the Taos Institute, the Center for Appreciative Inquiry, and UniteWNC.
Cheri holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a specialization in Collaborative Learning from the University of Tennessee. She also holds an MBA, a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology, Level 2 certification in Cultural Transformation Tools/Barrett Values Centre, and Level II certification in Spiral Dynamics Integral. She has authored numerous books and articles including The Appreciative Facilitator: Accelerated Learning Practices and Dynamic Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living. She co-authored a chapter for the newest edition of Advances in Appreciative Inquiry and a chapter in Appreciative Education. She co-designed and patented Mobile Team Challenge, an award-winning, portable low ropes course. She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, Michael, their two dogs, Logan and Annabelle, and feisty cat, Ziggy.  cheri@conversationsworthhaving.today