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Rockwood Institute

President's Message


We’ve been in the process of setting our direction here at Rockwood. We’re looking at our purpose, our vision, and how we will fulfill our commitments to the world. It’s been an enlivening and satisfying exploration, and as a result, it has become clear that I need to radically shift my role from one of internal management to external relationship building.

This is a change I welcome, as it is much more in alignment with my gifts, and will allow me to do more of what I love and less of what is best left to others. I know it’s good for Rockwood that others take greater leadership, and I’m committed to stepping aside when appropriate.

Nonetheless, I’m finding that occasionally I resist actually letting go of some of my old tasks, clinging to my old role as key decision-maker in most things. While I know this shift in role is good for me and for our organization, I still sometimes resist.


Logically, I should be delighted to relinquish those tasks for which I am not well-suited. I should be wildly excited about delegating to others with greater skills than I, so that my load is lightened. I’m really happy with what we’ve learned and where we’re going, so what is keeping me from fully embracing change?

Sometimes I fear that if I don’t manage everything, we’ll make mistakes and fail. (As if I’ve never made a mistake or failed…). Or I get invested in how we’ve always done things and take it personally if someone has a better way or idea. Or the Taurus part of me likes things to just remain the same – let’s not fix what ain’t broke.

Fortunately I have Rockwood practices to lean back on, and they remind me that good leadership requires co-powering. It does not serve Rockwood or the world when I refuse to create space for other leaders in our organization. Nor is it helpful when I try to weigh in on all decisions – that can stifle the creativity of those around me.

Letting go of and sharing power requires discipline and intention. The habit of doing everything can be a hard one to break. But I’m finding that if I really let go, really share power and decision-making, life gets infinitely more easy and satisfying. There are folks in my organization who are much wiser about their work than I could ever be. If I get out of their way, magic happens. Stepping aside creates space for the wisdom of others to emerge and thrive.

I don’t think that I’m the only person on this planet who has a hard time sometimes letting go.  Perhaps this is also true for you. If so, I invite you to take an honest and rigorous look at your habits and connections to old patterns:

  • What might it be time for you to release?
  • Are there decisions that do not need your input?
  • Are there people who are better at some of your key organizational tasks than you?
  • What could happen if you trusted more and controlled less?

Imagine what might be possible if each of us were freed up to do what we do best. Imagine how much easier that might be than trying to control it all. I’ll bet that if we all let go of a little, there would be significantly more room for those around us to step forward, and our lives and leadership would become more satisfying and interesting.

And that would be good for the whole world.

From my heart to yours.

September 2013

What might it be time for you to release? Share your experience on the Rockwood blog.



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Rockwood Leaders Changing the World

August 22nd: Hyeon-Ju Rho & Chris Punongbayan announced their new co-directorship of Asian American Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.

August 24th: Rinku Sen (President and Executive Director, Applied Research Center (ARC), and Publisher, Colorlines) had a piece on, Going Multiracial.

August 29th: Nusrat Choudhury (Staff Attorney, ACLU's National Security Project) represented 13 people on the no-fly list who won a round in an Oregon no-fly suit.

August 29th: Saket Soni (Executive Director, National Guestworker Alliance and the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice) spoke about Same Old Labor Day; Very Different Face of Labor on the The Laura Flanders Show at GRITtv.

September 2nd: Billy Parish (Co-founder and President, Mosaic) was profiled in the New York Times article, A Bet on the Environment.

September 6th: Peggy Flanagan is the new Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota.

September 8th: Ben Jealous (President and CEO, NAACP) will step down at the end of the year.

September 18th: Gihan Perera (Majority Executive Director, Florida New Majority) received an award at Wellstone Action’s 10th Birthday celebration.


Are you a Rockwood Alum? Send us your news.



Leading from the Inside Out Webinar

If you missed the Leading from the Inside Out webinar last month with Stacy Kono, Director of Programmatic Partnerships, and Pia Infante, Director of Organizational Partnerships, the recording is available on Leadership Learning Community’s Vimeo Channel, and the slides are up on SlideShare. Enjoy!





Photo by Indigo_Iggy

Rockwood 2013-2014 National Yearlong Fellows Selected

Rockwood is proud to announce 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!




6 Art of Leadership Trainings for Nonprofits and Social Changemakers

“Rockwood has been an invaluable and transformative experience which has increased and reconfigured my spiritual foundation and enhanced my overall management vision. Inspired by the lessons learned, our entire organization has been powerfully changed." ~ Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

We have six Art of Leadership trainings coming up on the East and West Coast in 2013/14. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about the program.


Apply Here



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National Selah Cohort Accepting Applications

The Selah Leadership Program is a collaboration between the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Bend the Arc, in partnership with the Rockwood Leadership Institute. Selah integrates Rockwood's Art of Leadership with Jewish leadership practices, training a cross-section of leaders in Jewish and non-Jewish organizations to be effective, sustainable and collaborative agents for change. Since its founding in 2004, more than 275 leaders from over 200 organizations have been trained.

Applicants from Jewish and non-Jewish organizations that work on social change from multiple approaches including, but not limited to community organizing, direct action, social entrepreneurship, advocacy, education, and arts and culture are encouraged to apply.

Learn more about Selah, get an application, or recommend someone you know.



Advanced Art of Leadership: Leadership in Action

Leadership takes practice and ongoing learning. The Advanced Art of Leadership is designed to support graduates of the Art of Leadership to continue to grow as leaders. The session will be held February 24-27, 2014 at the Mayacamas Ranch in Calistoga, CA.

Apply Here



Art of Leadership for Philanthropic Leaders

Now in its tenth year, this special training is designed to meet the unique needs of philanthropic leaders who wish to further their leadership and collaboration skills. The session will be held February 24-28, 2014 at the Earthrise Retreat Center in Petaluma, CA.

This training is open to all philanthropic leaders: foundation executives, board members, executive directors, program officers, donors, corporate sponsors, and other leaders in a position to leverage resources for social good.

Apply Here



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