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Rockwood Institute

President's Message


About a week ago I was in my car on my way home, and traveling toward me on the busy sidewalk was a young man (20-ish) on a skateboard. It took a moment for me to register that he had a toddler-aged girl on his shoulders. Neither of them had helmets or shin pads or any protection whatsoever.

My first thought was "Stop! Get that child off his shoulders — they could both be killed if he hits a rock! This is child endangerment!!!" All my alarms started clanging, and I was on HIGH alert.

And then I noticed their faces. He wasn't going fast, but was moving smoothly and with expertise. He was also grinning from ear to ear, and the look on that baby's face was sheer and unadulterated joy. It's been a long time since I've witnessed such unselfconscious bliss. Their expressions took my breath away.

I pulled over for a moment, caught between abject fear and utter delight. My heart was pounding in outrage and the child in me was whooping in happiness. What a dilemma.

Reflecting on it later, I realized that leadership can often feel like that, especially when I'm taking a risk, or trying a new skill. On one hand — "If I take this risk and fail, what could happen to me, to Rockwood, to our community, the world!?!?" On the other — "How terrifically amazing might it be if…"

How often do we lead from a place of managing fear of possible disaster rather than going all-out on something that thrills our hearts? What are the consequences of this?

Please hear me — I'm not espousing child endangerment or recklessness. But I am questioning what we lose when we listen overmuch to our own fears and the fears of those around us. There are many risks to take, but the greater risk is the choice we didn't attempt because of those fears. We risk missing out on the exhilaration and joy that is possible when we take a chance and leap into the unknown now and again.

These are unprecedented and changing times. We need new tools and ways of leading. We will need to take new risks, and undoubtedly we'll fall down and stumble — perhaps even break a bone or two. While it's important that we're not reckless, it's equally important that we're not so cautious that we become moribund.

So I'm going to push myself to be a little less "safe" and see what happens over the next several months. I invite you to join me in whatever way makes sense to you.

From my heart to yours.

September 2012




Two East Coast Trainings Have Spaces Left!

WHEN: October 7-11, 2012
WHERE: Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, NY

Rockwood has scheduled an Art of Leadership right outside New York, October 7-11, 2012, at the Edith Macy Conference Center, with trainers Toby Herzlich and José Acevedo. We received many requests this year for a training in New York and are pleased we could oblige. Please click here to apply for October's NYC Art of Leadership.

WHEN: November 11-15, 2012
WHERE: Airlie Conference Center in Warrenton, VA

There are also spots still available in November's Art of Leadership for Women in Racial Justice, Nov 11-15 near DC, with trainers Helen Kim and Suzanne Hawkes. This special training, which is held just once a year, will bring together a select group of women of color and white women leaders engaged in reproductive justice, education, immigrant rights, environmental justice, indigenous communities and many other racial justice issue areas. Please click here to apply for this year's Women in Racial Justice training in November.



SEIU Partnership Continuing with New SEIU Leaders Fellowship

Rockwood and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are pleased to announce the continuation of our partnership and a new fellowship program for SEIU leaders. The fellowship brings together a diverse group of courageous, influential officers and senior staff who are committed to developing the leadership skills needed to be visible and vocal leaders. SEIU President Mary Kay Henry shares, "As an alumna of the Rockwood National Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellowship, I know firsthand the transformational power of a Rockwood Leadership program. The 23 SEIU leaders that completed the first SEIU Fellowship can also testify to the power of this experience and have recommended a continuation of this program." Rockwood and SEIU extend a warm welcome to the 2012 class of SEIU Fellows.



Rockwood National Yearlong Fellows Announced

Rockwood is proud to share the list of this year's National Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellows. Each year, we select 24 nationally recognized leaders to participate in our transformative National Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellowship. Established in 2003, this executive leadership program has emerged as one of the nation's leading learning laboratories for experienced social change leaders. Please join us in congratulating this incredible group of Fellows!



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