Many of us learned this week of the death of Cleo Wolff, Director of Certification for WIAL and GM for WIAL’s Brazilian affiliate, as a result of a violent assault. The details of her passing are much less important than the loss that many of us feel and the vacuum that she leaves in the Action Learning community. I knew Cleo as a trainer, colleague, and student of her approach to learning. Cleo not only had a passion for Action Learning but also had the courage to speak her mind, asking courageous questions even if she knew she would be rocking the boat or going against the current norms. I remember her asking me a very demanding question, “Skip, do you believe in Action Learning?” during a training session when she thought I might be compromising what she understood to be the correct process. Following that training program, we had a long phone discussion about the issue at hand (as I recall, whether it was OK to provide more than one answer/opinion to a given question) before she was assured that I wasn’t an apostate. While she was not afraid to challenge authority, she was very open to learning and changing her beliefs and perspectives as a result.
Cleo threw herself into her passions, lived her ideals, and maintained friendships even in the midst of disagreements. Friends and colleagues like Cleo are hard to come by and harder to replace. She will be sorely missed!