Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center

The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation logoNorthern Virginia Community College was selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) as a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation™ (TRHT) Center in the spring of 2021.

As one of the seventy-one colleges and universities that have been named TRHT Campus Centers, NOVA joins a community of higher education institutions that have implemented visionary action plans with the shared goal of erasing barriers to equal treatment and opportunity on campuses, in our communities, and for our nation.

The TRHT Framework is built on five main pillars: narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, separation (segregation, colonization, concentrated poverty), law, and economy. You can read more about the pillars here.

NOVA’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation™ (TRHT) Center prepares the next generation of strategic leaders and thinkers to break down racial hierarchies. This work supports the VCCS Opportunity 2027 goal of achieving equity in student outcomes and NOVA’s commitment to inclusive excellence.

In support of the first two main pillars of the TRHT Framework, NOVA has implemented Healing Circles.

For more information about NOVA's beginning efforts around the TRHT initiative, please get in touch with Dr. Sherrene DeLong in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at

Healing Circles at NOVA

As a designated TRHT Campus Center, NOVA is one of seventy-one colleges and universities dedicated to pursuing narrative change, racial healing, and relationship building. One practical tool that TRHT Campus Centers utilize is Healing Circles.

Healing Circles are groups of no more than 30 people coming together to share individual truths, history, and stories. They are led by two trained co-facilitators who guide the circle through a series of prompts and debriefs that lead to generative conversations. The experience is usually two and a half to three hours long, with time for group sharing, conversations in pairs, and self-reflection. The process of listening and becoming open to one another's perspectives and experiences is what leads to a transformative experience.

To heal means to restore wholeness, to repair damage, and to set right. Healing Circles acknowledges the negative effects of racism on every one of us, regardless of our skin color. Historically, racism has been one of the biggest obstacles in our communities, keeping us apart. We need healing from this reality, and Healing Circles are one way of pursuing healing.

Each Healing Circle is different based on the different co-facilitators, prompts, and group composition. We always start with Touchstones, which serve as a group agreement involving confidentiality, mutual respect, commitment to listen without judgment, and more. The co-facilitators lead the group into deeper discussion, providing opportunities for individuals to share in pairs and then as a group, reflecting on the stories shared, as well as the process of listening and truth-telling.

It is important to note that Healing Circles are not magic. The power of the Healing Circle process comes from what a participant puts into it. In our busy worlds, we have great intentions of connecting with diverse groups of people, but many times, we struggle to make time to truly listen to the experiences and stories of others. Setting aside a significant amount of time (two and a half to three hours) to listen to others, share your own truths, and expand your understanding of different perspectives takes intentionality and commitment. NOVA provides this opportunity for folks as a way to take our good intentions and apply them to practice.

Absolutely! Circles are never a one-and-done experience, and each circle will be different based on the different co-facilitators, prompts, and participants. The process of listening and truth-telling takes intentional practice. We strongly encourage participants to attend more than one in an effort to build skills, grow empathy, and develop a lifelong commitment to healing from the effects of racism.

Contact Dr. Sherrene DeLong at in the Office of DEI. Sherrene is also available to attend your staff meeting, club meeting, or other community gatherings to share more about the Healing Circles process at NOVA and answer any questions you may have.