We grew out of one woman's desire to make change.

In the fall of 2014 Dr. Nicole Robinson was asked to conduct a session on Urban Music Education for a group of music education majors at Florida State University. Dr. Robinson had been researching, teaching, and working in urban areas and contexts her entire career, but for this presentation, she decided to guide students to deeper levels of understanding about urban education. She wanted to go beyond the "who," "what," and "how" of such complexities. Although such questions often served as underpinnings for her presentations, this time she wanted to address a more critical prose— the "why" and to examine what was the direct impact of more than 17 million children educated in urban schools.

Dr. Robinson knew that for many of these music education majors this would be the first time they would explore and examine their personal attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs about the "isms" (i.e. racism, classism, sexism, etc.), which, more than likely, they had not experienced themselves. More importantly, she could not ignore her positionality as a black woman presenting these "isms" to a group of predominantly white, middle-class students. In the midst of these uncertainties, Dr. Robinson wanted to shift her position from a teacher–leader to a facilitator of learning to alleviate any resistance or barriers associated with delivering such complex material. She wanted to establish a safe, carefree environment that would nurture critical conversations around race, class, privilege, and so on. Dr. Robinson challenged herself to present this complex content in a creative, thought-provoking, yet non-threatening way.

Over the course of the last several years since that day, Dr. Robinson has managed to develop a curriculum that is at once engaging, inspiring, and meaningful. She continues to grow her own knowledge of diversity and inclusion as she works to change the world.


Most diversity trainings focus on HR issues. We educate to increase understanding, develop critical consciousness, and build a sense of empathy.


Most diversity trainings are not grounded in research and show little evidence of program impact. However, our content is constantly evaluated through various forms of research methodologies.


Most diversity conversations can alienate participants. We foster safe spaces that allow participants to contemplate different perspectives and learn at their own pace.

Education, Not Training

At Cultural Connections by Design™(CCBD), we are clear and intentional about the distinction between training and education. Training is skill-oriented and focuses merely on task development. However, education is conceptual; it is holistic, sequential, and purposeful. We believe individuals are at the core of transformative change; therefore, we always begin with “Understanding Self” first. Diversity education empowers individuals with the appropriate tools to forge breakthroughs.

Because diversity contexts are constantly evolving, diversity trainings do not provide the appropriate tools to successfully navigate the complexities of various cultural landscapes.

Our Team

Founder & CEO

Saran Donahoo


Sommer Forrester


Chiho Okuizumi Feindler


Francy Magee, Ed.D.

Leaders Summer Intensive Program Keynote

Nicole R. Robinson

Founder & CEO

Team Members

Kaya Aman

Game Graphic Designer

Zenitta Anderson

CCBD Board Chair

Mindy Johnston

Web Designer

Allyssa Jones

Interim CCT Board Chair

James Labastille

Marketing & Graphic Design

Micheal McElveen