Trainings, Workshops, and Community Events

For over ten years, our Family Pictures USA methodology has been used to build community across the country, and the world, in unique experiential events, workshops and trainings. In 2020, we added a new, virtual dimension to our offerings, making our learning program available to audiences wherever they are.
Using our unique and extensive content, from over 4500 interviews with people in over 70 communities in the USA, Canada, Europe and Latin America, our fully customizable workshops and trainings are focused on helping leaders and organizations to build more inclusive and equitable cultures where every stakeholder feels a sense of belonging.
Below are a few highlights from our recent engagements. To schedule a workshop or event for your company, organization or community, please contact us at: or 646-662-8409

Family Pictures Institute for Inclusive Storytelling
Celebrates Book Launch in NYC

December 2022

Since the November release of the latest book with MIT Press, Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media for Equity and Justice, there have been multiple book events celebrating the book release around the globe and in New York City, it was no different but with a more personal touch.

Host Thomas Allen Harris invites audience members to participate by sharing their photos amongst each other

Co-author Thomas Allen Harris, in collaboration with the Co-Creation Studio at the MIT Open Documentary Lab, got to bring the Family Pictures Institute for Inclusive Storytelling for the NYC celebrations at Ford Foundation.

Co-authors Kat Cizek (l) and Thomas Allen Harris (r) share photos of their parents both reading the “Collective Wisdom” book

Thomas invited his fellow co-authors to share excerpts of their written works along with their own family photos to get a deeper look behind their work and build a more collective narrative amongst artists.

To see more of what went down, visit our Flickr.

Family Pictures Institute for Inclusive Storytelling
Launches in Pittsburgh!

October 2022

Special thanks to one of our newest partners, Carnegie Mellon University for co-hosting our successful Community PhotoShare (CPS) event, Transforming Our Pittsburgh Family Album!

As part of their annual campus event, Tartan Day 2022, we invited both students and members of the community to come in and share their family stories and photos that range over 150 years and four continents.

During the photoshare, we also taught participants our Family Pictures methodology where they can continue the experience of diving into their family albums with loved ones at home!

CMU student Yael Canaan shares a photo from her Bat Mitzvah wearing her first gargush

We closed the program with our grand finale inviting special guests that included undergraduate and graduate students and faculty, deans and alumnae to share their family stories and photos which gave a deeper look into the rich diversity as well as the communities which unite the Carnegie Mellon community across differences of religion, generation, race and origin right here in Pittsburgh!

Producers Thomas Allen Harris and Don Perry pose with the Family Pictures Institute production crew

To see more of what went down, visit our Flickr.

Family Pictures USC Student Edition: How I Got Here

March 2022

We had a blast hosting our second Community PhotoShare (CPS) event with the USC School of Cinematic Arts and USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative. I was joined by a dynamic range of students who shared personal photos and intimate reflections on the journey that brought them to USC. 

From childhood memories to the issues that matter most to them today, their conversations and images not only provide a uniquely personal view of USC’s student body but also creates a dynamic snapshot of the school’s present and future.

For the first time, I felt close to the USC community because of our shared values and human plight. Thank you for your inspiring discussion

The student participants included Nana Adwoa FrimpongViviana MejiaNeha DhabaleA.J Salazar BextonLau RodriguezRamis BaigTommy NguyenIshita BansalDaniela De La CruzThomas WinterKimberly HenrySammie Sorsby-Jones and Ulises Venegas-Rivera.

73rd Annual Philanthropic Southwest 2021 Conference:
Rebuild Together, Emerge Stronger

October 2021

Thank you to Philanthropy Southwest for having Family Pictures USA kick off their annual conference creating a family album through a workshop, keynote & Community Photosharing with our “Connecting Philanthropy through Pictures” event!

Our special guests include: Ben Leal, President at The Addy Foundation; Amanda Morrall, Executive Director at Coretz Family Foundation; and Abel Wurmnest, Executive Director of the Anschutz Family Foundation.

Throughout the conference we collected diverse photos and stories of resilience in the face of adversity, emphasizing and expanding upon the theme of this year’s conference – Rebuild Together, Emerge Stronger.

We are excited for the Family Pictures Institute for Inclusive Storytelling and its transformative work with nonprofits and corporations & universities throughout the fall.

It is our mission to be able to use our Community Photosharing methodology to create common ground that bridges across differences and helps in the healing of our communities…and the nation.

The Florida Department of Children and Families 2021
Child Protection Summit

September 2021

Thank you to the Florida Department of Children and Families for engaging Family Pictures USA to create a family album for their 2021 Child Protection Summit through workshops, a keynote & social media campaign!

It was such a moving and impactful experience with our special guests including esteemed Judge Jason Emilios Dimitris, authors and business owners Alexis Lenderman-Black and Justin Black, DCF Training and Research Consultant Tanisha Lee and founder of 4Generations Institute Jack Levine.

Throughout the conference we collected photo-stories of joy, tragedy and heartbreak and love from the attendees— including people who had been part of the foster care system and shared their success stories, and many stories of resilience in the face of adversity. All of these photographs and stories shared with us help create new narratives around the meaning of family and community.

This was our very first family album for this community of activists and workers who strive to protect and empower children and families.

AMEX Converge Academy 2021:

Personal Storytelling for Effective Leadership and Advocacy

August 2021

In this special workshop session, Thomas discussed how something as ubiquitous as family photographs can create new narratives around notions of equity, inclusion, diversity and belonging for organizations and the communities they serve. Transforming social and cultural narratives begins with the insertion of our personal stories into the collective understanding of our shared experiences. By bringing the personal into the public square we humanize our differences, encourage empathy around our shared values and validate our common humanity.

The presentation centered around a virtual Community Photosharing event where participants shared photographs and family stories in conversation with Thomas, connecting personal family narratives with how participants came to do the work they are doing, and what motivates their continued service to the community.

Family Pictures USA at USC

June 2021

I had a wonderful time guest visiting the USC School of Cinematic Arts to discuss Family Pictures USA and our storytelling methodology with Associate Dean Michael Renov and his graduate seminar students in documentary.

The session included screenings of our national Family Pictures USA series as well as my documentary “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” (2014) and we talked about how to use our Community PhotoSharing methodology to create common ground that bridges across difference and helps in the healing of the nation.

This event was in advance of our upcoming campus-wide engagement with our Family Pictures Institute of Inclusive Storytelling and the University of Southern California.

Family Pictures USA at the University of Delaware

January 2021

We always welcome the chance to bring our Family Pictures USA methodology to the classroom and younger generations, so we were happy to visit Debra Norris’s Photograph Conservation class at the University of Delaware Program in Art.

Thomas led a discussion with the class about his approach to community engagement and personal storytelling, some of his past work as well as about the various ways that Family Pictures USA resonated with the students. The block culminated in a poignant and touching Family Pictures USA Community PhotoShare where each student was able to share their most personal family photos and memories with their peers – creating an unforgettable experience of bonding within the group.

“I just wanted to thank you for your WONDERFUL presentation and the time you spent with our class today.  I so look forward to future collaborations. It was just fantastic.” – Debra Norris

Spitfire Strategies’ 2020 Executive Training Program

December 2020

Our Family Pictures USA team presented a special training session during Spitfire Strategies’ ETP on how something as ubiquitous as family photographs can create new narratives around notions of equity, inclusion, diversity and belonging in the work for social change. In the workshop, participants learned how to harness personal testimonies based on family photographs in authentic ways to create new narratives and foster more nuanced dialogues with constituents – boards, donors, staff, clients, policy makers, etc. Select members joined the Community Photoshare event where they shared their family photos and histories with us, connecting their personal family photographs with their present work.

Advancing the Narrative: Using Family Photographs and Stories for Social Change

“I’m enjoying all of this! Thank you, everyone, for taking time to share these stories about our lives.” 

“I could do this all day!”

“So many of the stories highlight empowerment and success despite adversity – create way to tell the story of triumph and possibilities” 

“Much appreciation to all of you who “dared to share” so personally, deeply, and thoughtfully! REALLY useful and inspiring!” 

“This was an uplifting and informative session. Thanks so much for sharing and being vulnerable.” 

“What a moving presentation. It is one I will never forget. Thanks to all who shared. And many thanks to you Thomas for sharing your work. It is plain to see you are living your passion. It’s so inspiring!”

Housing California’s 2020 Virtual “Un-Conference”

August 31- September 4, 2020

For Housing California’s annual conference, Family Pictures USA ran a month long campaign that culminated in keynote presentation and workshop on how family photographs can expand our notions of “Home” and can help bridge differences between the Housing Justice Movement and policymakers in order to bring housing security to everyone. Our event featured a diverse group of special guests — CEOs, staff, formerly homeless, and interns — who shared stories about their family photographs and how their family stories motivated them to join the Housing Justice Movement.

“Home is a place for family and friends to find warmth, comfort and safety, and where memories and traditions are made. Home is the foundation for a life full of love, health and security.”

“We are so incredibly happy that we organized a plenary with [Family Pictures USA] at our virtual conference this year – it was the perfect addition to the event – a way to truly connect to the ‘human side’ of the important work that this movement is doing and bring the ‘people’ front and center to our critical work. We couldn’t have done that without you!” – Jenny Welch, Operations Director, Housing California

North Carolina Network of Grantmakers 2020 Annual Meeting and Conference: People, Place, Purpose

March 2020 | Winston-Salem, NC

In a special plenary presentation, we shared our Family Pictures USA methodology at the NCNG 2020 Annual Meeting and Conference. During the event, we discussed the impact of family photographs and their value to understanding our shared history. We participated in a dialogue with Charles Thomas, the head of the Knight Foundation about the FPUSA North Carolina episode as well as the use of photography and storytelling in helping to facilitate communication between funders, their grantees and the communities they serve. Our session featured special guest Joy Vermillion of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, who spoke about her multigenerational history in North Carolina and throughout the South.

Our event concluded with a Community Photoshare workshop – highlighting the stories and photographs of a diverse group of participants – with the 300 event attendees where everyone is able to engage in our FPUSA methodology. Participants uploaded their photos to Twitter as part of a social media campaign – bringing the FPN family album to the digital sphere.

“Shared this epic family photo at the @ncgrantmakers #NCNG2020! Loved hearing everyone’s stories.”

“Loving the #familypicturesusa session at #NCNG2020! Here’s my family… in Kenya” 

“Storytelling & expressing moments of joy with friends and strangers at @ncgrantmakers. ‘I feel like I know more about you after a few minutes of sharing’ #PeoplePlacesPurpose #ncng2020 #familypicturesusa” – Charles Thomas, Knight Foundation

Thomas, Ret Boney, Charles Thomas, and Joy Vermillion
Ret Boney, Charles Thomas, Joy Vermillion, and Thomas
Group photosharing
Community PhotoShare
Group photosharing
Community PhotoShare

Group photosharing
Community PhotoShare

FRANK Conference 2020

February 4 – 7, 2020 | Gainesville, FL

At the 2020 Frank Conference, our Family Pictures USA team traveled to Gainesville, FL, where Thomas presented workshops on “Awe” and “Love” and discussed how sharing publicly our personal family histories and photographs can elicit both Awe and Love, creating strong community connections. We showed how our Family Pictures USA methodology developed from Thomas’ own intimate documentary films, and also hosted a Community Photoshare where a group of strangers become a joyful family through the sharing of family photographs.

“Your work is an absolute game-changer in creating meaningful conversations with strangers. Now I’m looking at ways to use family photo-sharing in my own work, teaching people how to talk to strangers.”

“It was so wonderful to meet you at Frank… You are a true inspiration.”

Florida Philanthropic Network 2020 Statewide Summit on Philanthropy

February 2020 | Orlando, FL

In February, 2020, our Family Pictures USA team traveled to Orlando, Florida, to teach summit attendees about why family photographs are essential for building community in our Dinner and Conversations workshop session. The workshop was preceded with a Welcome Reception,  where attendees were photographed with their personal family photos. 

Our special guests included Kathryn Kelly (The Heights Center), Vince Stehle (Media Funders) and Brittany Timmons (Community Foundation of South Lake) in wide ranging discussions about charting a course for the future of philanthropy and the world itself by looking towards our past in family photographs. We concluded the workshop with a Community Photoshare where members of FPN were encouraged to share their beloved family photographs and stories with those around them.

“Spending some time at #FPN2020 discussing how family photographs are essential for building community. Thankful to be apart of this impactful discussion”

Dinner and Conversations
Dinner and Conversations
Community PhotoShare
“Why Family Photographs are Essential for Building Community” Keynote

University of Brasilia

October 2019 | Brasilia, Brazil

Our Family Pictures USA methodology is applicable internationally, as demonstrated by our workshops at the Federal University of Brasilia as part of the “Plural Knowledge: The Social Relevance of the Public University” Conference, in a multidisciplinary symposium. Thomas gave a keynote presentation about the evolution of his work and our Family Pictures USA project. This was followed by a workshop on the exploration of family archives. We concluded our engagement with a Community Photoshare event at the “Family Photography: Ancestry, Memory, and History” workshop, where a full and diverse group of undergraduates, PhD candidates, artists, community activists, and scholars coming from African, Indian, Asian, and European Brazilian heritages shared their images and stories. 

The photoshare event spanned multiple days and many participants found it to be a transformative experience that inspired them to use our methodology in their future work.

Community PhotoShare Workshop
“Family Photography: Ancestry, Memory, and History” Workshop
Community PhotoShare Workshop
Group participant photo

United Philanthropy Forum’s 2019 Annual Conference

July 2019 | Cleveland, OH

In July, 2019, Family Pictures USA traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, for the United Philanthropy Forum’s Annual Conference. We presented at the “Clips, Conversations, and Cocktails” plenary session, where Thomas spoke with Vincent Stehle, Executive Director of Media Impact Funders, about the stories that exist behind family photographs. We showed a sneak peak of our national Family Pictures USA PBS series and led a Community PhotoShare with event attendees who shared the history and sentiment behind their family photo albums.