About Partners

  • Forge partnerships to increase academic achievement by promoting a safe, welcoming and caring environment in the school for students, staff and parents/community members.
  • Maximize success for a diverse group of learners developing emotional intelligence and social competencies.

The primary goals of Partners Inc. include:

  • Establishing a solid foundation of knowledge, skill and best practices among staff for integrating social and emotional learning with constructive conflict resolution strategies into all aspects of the school environment.
  • Refining the structures and content of teaching and learning to facilitate culturally responsive practices for an increasingly diverse school and community.
  • Supporting the development of a safer, more respectful, and more inclusive school community by fostering partnerships between and among students, staff, parents, and the community.


Founder, Marion O’Malley, and staff, past and present of Partners Inc.: Matt Gress, Jeannie Carr, Caroline Blackwell, Marilyn Williams, & Tim Diffenderfer

Partners Inc.’s process design solution for lasting systemic change built around social-emotional skill-building was formulated by Marion O’Malley, who after over 20 years of working with schools in peace, conflict resolution, and diversity education, saw that many wonderful changes and curricula did not last in schools, and she subsequently learned the principles of lasting systemic change and how to make real, customized, achievement-based school change take hold and truly last. This is Partners Inc.

For more information about Partners Inc. and how it might work in your school, contact the following people. For more specifics about how the process works preK-12, sign up for notice about when the upcoming manual: True Partners: A Guide to Challenge and Change in our Nation’s Schools is available this fall.

Marion O’Malley
Partners Inc. Director

Tim Diffenderfer
Associate Executive Director of STARS

Rodger Dinwiddie

Caroline Blackwell
Director, Human Relations Commission of Nashville and trainer

Matt Gress
Partners Inc. Site Coordinator

STARS welcomes and will serve individuals with both mental health and substance use disorders. We believe that every door is the right door to gain access to appropriate services in the integrated system of care.

STARS does not discriminate on the grounds of race, religion, creed, color, sex or national origin. No one shall be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any of STARS programs or activities. STARS is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
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