Speaker: Deidre Combs

Deidre Combs provides leadership on cross-cultural approaches to resolving conflict and to overcoming challenges.  She is a management consultant, coach, mediator and professor.  Her approach to conflict resolution integrates wisdom from the world’s lasting cultural traditions with systems theory and brain research.  She works with individuals to creatively and confidently engage a dispute until the participants develop a win/win solution.

"Conflict indeed is messy and risky and scary and can be, as we all know, extremely dangerous," she says. "But … I’ve come to understand that conflict is one of the best things we’ve got going for us."  Deidre believes that we need conflict to push us forward and to be more courageous.  "Conflict is calling us to our best. Conflict creates our hero’s quests -- those life-defining moments in our lives where we can sing our proudest souls’ anthems."  Drawing on all the world's wisdom traditions, she counsels that when conflict comes, we should be grateful -- not only for the conflict, but for our opponent.  "Our worst enemies have the potential to become our best teachers."  When we forget this and turn our opponents into "things", then "the legacy is so long. ... We run into situations that not only live with us but live with those that follow us. How many generations does it take for a family to overcome physical and sexual abuse? When do we as a species recover from slavery, the Holocaust, and other forms of genocide?"

Deidre is the author of three books -- The Way of Conflict; Worst Enemy, Best Teacher and Thriving Through Tough Times.  She has served as a professor at Montana State University for over a decade teaching intercultural leadership and critical thinking.  Since 2007, she has also provided intensive leadership training to more than a thousand State Department, Muskie Foundation and Carnegie-selected students, K-12 teachers, activists and professionals from just about every country in the world.  She has been a guest instructor at La Universidad de Sagrado Corazon, Puerto Rico, El Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico, and PP International School, India.  She also teaches Dialoguing in Global Education for Columbia University new Global Competency Certificate masters program

As a management consultant, executive coach and mediator, she has worked with a variety of corporate, government and NGO clients including Aveda Corporation, US Postal Service, IBM, Agenda Ciudadana and Landmine Survivors Network.  She has been a featured keynote speaker at the US Forest Service, Montana Library Association, and TedxBozeman.

She holds a BA in Mathematics and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a master’s degree in Information Systems Technology from George Washington University, and a doctorate focused on world religions from UCS/Naropa University.