Roberts & Kay

Advancing democratic practices
in workplaces and communities


Roberts & Kay's Clients

Our clients include small and large groups and organizations with service areas ranging from neighborhood to nationwide. We work with clients in all three sectors: private, public, and nonprofit. You can read descriptions of current or recent clients here, or view a partial client list here.   

Selected client examples:

Brushy Fork Institute
From 2007 through 2015 Steve served as track leader for the Brushy Fork Annual Institute in Berea, Kentucky, where he led a 14-hour intensive workshop track focused on communication strategies for experienced leaders.

Kentucky Education Association
In 2013 and 2014-15, Rona carried out regional and statewide qualitative research projects with KEA on topics related to excellence in teaching.

Bluegrass Community Bankers Association
In 2016 Steve worked with BCBA board members to design a two-day planning retreat that he then facilitated. Steve drafted a concise strategic plan based on notes from the retreat.

University of Kentucky Family & Consumer Sciences Extension

  • In 2018, Rona conducted a set of statewide focus groups intended to refine understanding of SNAP-eligible Kentuckians' use of three important mobile tools; Rona produced a summary report including key findings and propositions for use in social marketing campaigns.
  • In 2017, Rona conducted two large sets of statewide focus groups aimed at identifying ways to overcome barriers to low income shoppers' purchase of local, fresh food. Rona's summary reports on these two studies served as the foundation for social marketing campaigns.
  • In 2013, Rona conducted statewide focus groups that served as the first stage of an intensive, three-year social marketing initiative aimed at encouraging Kentucky families to cook at home.

University of Kentucky Neighborhood Advisory Council
Starting in 2005, Steve conducted a study to determine the feasibility and usefulness of establishing a Neighborhood Advisory Council to address issues of common concern between the university and its near neighbors. That work involved a set of interviews with key constituents, and then work with an ad hoc group to establish membership and other parameters for the Council. From 2006 through 2018 Steve facilitated the meetings of the group, and worked with the co-chairs to set agendas and draft recommendations for the group.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
The Prichard Committee is a nationally-recognized education advocacy group based in Lexington, Kentucky. Roberts & Kay has worked extensively with the Prichard Committee since 1984 in a variety of ways – designing dialogues, conducting focus group research, organizing conferences, assisting with staff development, creating and maintaining websites, and facilitating collaborative work sessions with allied groups. also includes excellent information.

Mountain Association for Community Economic Development
The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) provides opportunities and resources to help citizens build healthy, sustainable, equitable, democratic, and prosperous communities in Kentucky and Central Appalachia. MACED staff provide technical assistance to organizations and people to improve life in mountain communities, particularly for low-income people. In the spring of 1999, Rona worked with a design group and then facilitated a one-day session on values. Using an inquiry frame, staff and board members of MACED invested six hours in identifying the values that underpin their work as an organization, took initial steps toward refining key values, and began identifying concrete ways to align daily work more closely with those values.

In 2001-2002 Steve worked with staff on internal staff development, and with staff and board on development of a strategic plan. Steve's work included initial assessment interviews, structured work sessions, and facilitation of meetings.

From 2009-2015 Steve worked with staff to design board meeting agendas and served as facilitator for those board meetings.

University of Kentucky Office of the Provost
Steve worked with staff to design a two-day planning retreat for all UK Deans and the staff of the Office of the Provost. Steve then served as facilitator for the retreat.

2020 Vision for Fayette County Public Schools
In 2005-2006, Roberts & Kay provided public process design and trained leadership teams and facilitators for "2020 Vision," an intensive community engagement initiative aimed at changing the face of education in Fayette County. 2020 Vision kicked off with a community summit attended by 1300 people on May 9, 2005. At the summit, community members, students and educators chose among 17 work groups and began six months of intensive focus on developing research-based approaches to educating all Fayette County children. School Superintendent Stu Silberman described 2020 Vision as a way for the community to provide the guidance that would level the field for all students, and result in Fayette County Schools joining the ranks of the top five percent of school districts in the USA.

Highly Skilled Educators, Kentucky Department of Education
In the summers of 2005, 2006, and 2007, Steve conducted Authentic Partnership™ training-for-trainers sessions for a small group of Highly Skilled Educators who then assisted Steve in delivering the training to the full cadre of Highly Skilled Educators.

University of Kentucky College of Nursing
In 2006 and again in 2009 Steve worked with the Dean of the College of Nursing and a planning team to design a set of meetings and opportunities for participation for the full faculty and staff of the College of Nursing to revise their strategic plan. Steve facilitated the largest meetings and worked with the planning team to draft the planning documents.

Legal Aid Network of Kentucky
From 2005-2010, Rona provided project management services for a technology consortium of Kentucky legal services programs that jointly present public legal education as well as password-protected support for legal services advocates at

Education Coalition
The Education Coalition (1990 through 2008) was a multi-stakeholder group of 14 Kentucky statewide professional associations, advocacy groups, and state agencies and  concerned with public education. As the group's facilitator, Steve set meeting agendas in collaboration with coalition members, facilitated the meetings, and took the lead role in producing the Coalition's written products, including a major policy statement that influenced adoption of the seminal Kentucky Education Reform Act.

Site-Specific Advisory Board (SSAB) for the Paducah, Kentucky Gaseous Diffusion Plant
The Site-Specific Advisory Board is a multi-stakeholder citizen board for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The Plant is a Federal Superfund Cleanup Site directed by the Department of Energy and overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Kentucky Department of Waste Management. The Board is chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Steve served as a researcher and adviser in the creation of the SSAB and facilitated its regular monthly meetings from 1996 through 2006.

Everyday Democracy (formerly Study Circles Resource Center)
Everyday Democracy helps communities bring large numbers of diverse people into democratic, face-to-face dialogue and action on critical public issues. Everyday Democracy chose Roberts & Kay to conduct a two-year study of the ways successful community-wide study circle programs organize and produce large-scale dialogue projects, particularly on the topic of race. Roberts & Kay completed the final product of this study, a 455-page report entitled Toward Competent Communities: Best Practices for Producing Community-Wide Study Circles, in September, 2000. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation funded the study.
(Visit their website at

Kentucky Arts Council
In 2002 Steve worked with the Kentucky Arts Council as it updated its strategic plan. That work included advising on the structure of the overall planning process, designing a series of public meetings throughout Kentucky for public input, facilitating the largest public meetings in Louisville and Lexington, and assisting with analysis of all data gathered and preparation of the plan.

Community Action Council
Community Action Council provides a range of direct services for low-income communities in Fayette (Lexington) and four of the surrounding counties in Kentucky. Over a ten-year span Roberts & Kay provided a number of different kinds of services for the agency, all part of a long-term developmental effort to increase organizational effectiveness and restructure the organization so that as much work as possible would be accomplished through self-organizing and self-management. That work focused mainly on developing effective self-managed work teams and work groups, and more generally on communications issues.

We worked directly with the executive director and senior management and with groups of employees representing all levels of the agency. We provided direct training, technical assistance, facilitation services, and organizational analysis and assessment.  

In the area of communications, Steve began work with senior management to develop a model of effective communications within the agency. He then used the model as the basis for a day-long training delivered in small groups to all employees in the agency. A self-managed work team of agency employees eventually delivered the training program.

In his final year with Community Action, Steve worked with a team of consultants brought into the agency to develop a more effective evaluation system, design a strategic and long-range planning process for the agency, and address issues of diversity.

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