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Rockwood Institute

President's Message


Recently, four friends of mine lost parents and siblings. Rockwood has had a few unanticipated challenges this year. The ripples of the 2008 recession are still affecting the nonprofit sector, and many organizations are struggling. The instability of our national government in recent months has made things very difficult for many folks.

Sometimes life is just hard.

I come from a family that lived by the adage, “God bless the child who’s got his own.” I learned early and thoroughly not to complain, to toughen up and deal, and to do what’s in front of me right now and with excellence. There was kindness in my family, but we were expected to do our part without much help, and to get it done well. It was how my parents learned to survive, and I honor that they passed those lessons on to me.

In many ways, those lessons have allowed me to be successful in my work, but they have also taught me that I must be totally self-reliant, not depend on anyone else, and that fundamentally, I can only count on myself to do things right.

And that’s what makes things hard. Unnecessarily so.

A couple weeks ago, I was having one of “those” days, so I called a pal and asked her to remind me why I said “yes” to this work. Without missing a beat, she said: “Because you are born for it, you have a gift for it, you love it and no one is better suited for it.” My jaw dropped. I was expecting her to join me in a bit of “woe is me.” Instead, she showered me with a deep and affirmative truth I needed to hear. A truth I wasn’t capable of telling myself at that moment.

She lovingly yanked me out of my isolation and put me right smack back into the circle of relatedness.

It was a reminder of how much I need others if I am going to be an effective leader and work for the common good over a lifetime. It was a reminder of how much each of us needs the other. We cannot do the work of transforming the world unless we are in interdependent relationships—the work is too vast and complex for any one of us.

Since that day, I’ve looked for other ways to practice reaching out and asking for help, and have been astonished by the many folks who’ve been delighted to lend a hand, a shoulder or some needed wisdom. WOW!

Leadership can be downright daunting at times. Hard even. The next time your leadership begins to feel like a burden, I invite you to reach out and see who responds. I’ll bet there is more support for each of us than we can imagine. I’m beginning to wonder how much of the isolation many leaders feel is based in a false belief that we are alone.

Let’s reach toward each other. Let’s ask for assistance when we need it and lend a hand when we can. I promise you that the work of transforming the world will be much more satisfying, effective and easy if we do it together.

Here’s a video that reminds me of what’s possible when we flock and fly in community – beauty and motion and joy. Murmuration.

From my heart to yours.

November 2013

How do you reach out to your community when things get is hard? Share your experience on the Rockwood blog .



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Rockwood Leaders Changing the World

October 14: Portland Monthly & Knowledge Universe named Amy Sample Ward (NTEN) one of Portland’s Rising Stars.

October 28th: Deepak Bhargava (The Center for Community Change), Patricia Castellanos (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy), Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins (Green For All), George Goehl (National People's Action), Sarita Gupta (Jobs with Justice & Caring Across Generations), Ai-jen Poo (National Domestic Workers Alliance) & Angelica Salas (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles) were included on a list of 19 Young Activists Changing America on

November 14: Quentin James was named Black Americans and Regional Director for Ready for Hillary.

Annie Leonard was featured on the cover of the Fall 2013 issue of Yes! Magazine.

Are you a Rockwood Alum? Send us your news.



Photo by Stephen Bowler

Lead Forward by Giving Back!

Have you had a transformative experience at a Rockwood Fellowship, Art of Leadership or Alumni Gather? If so, please consider LEADING FORWARD by GIVING BACK. Your donation will help us secure the funds needed to continue to provide quality leadership trainings in 2014 to a diverse community of leaders from across the country.

Rockwood relies on general support funding to underwrite all leaders' participation in the Art of Leadership and Fellowships. Today, Rockwood's 4,500 alumni are 69.9% women and 54.9% leaders of color, and we're proud of our growing diversity. With your support, we can keep our sliding scale fees low to ensure that grassroots, rural and low-income leaders can attend.

As 2013 comes to a close, we invite you to make an investment in Rockwood and in the leaders we serve. You can make a secure tax-deductible, online donation with your credit card on our website.

Your contribution will ensure that Rockwood can continue to support a diverse community of leaders who are working to create a healthy, vibrant and sustainable world. Thank you!



Rockwood 2013-2014 Cross-Movement Yearlong Fellows

After a successful pilot program, Rockwood and eleven national movement-building organizations have launched a second "Leading from the Inside Out" Yearlong Fellowship for 24 senior leaders. The Cross-Movement Yearlong Fellowship represents an innovative methodology that allows for the opportunity to network, build relationships, and seed the potential for collaboration among the organizations, and across sectors in the field of social transformation. Please join us in congratulating the 2013-2014 Cross Movement Yearlong Fellows!



Rockwood 2013-2014 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Advocacy Fellows

Now in its sixth year, the Fellowship for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Advocacy brings together LGBTQ changemakers from across the country and across issue areas to build community and gain skills to lead effectively. The 2013-24 Fellows include activists working on issues that impact LGBTQ people such as immigration, policing, suicide prevention, and reproductive rights. Please join us in congratulating the 2013-2014 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Advocacy Fellows!



Two Advanced Art of Leadership Trainings in 2014

"The Advanced Art of Leadership changed my life irrevocably - I now see how I must live my life in balance and integrity in order to truly lead from a place of love and compassion" - Jayeesha Dutta, Mind Power Collective

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.

Due to popular demand, we’re offering two Advanced Art of Leadership sessions in 2014: February 24-27, 2014 at Mayacamas Ranch in Calistoga, CA, and October 20-23, 2014 at Carter Hall Conference Center in Millwood, VA.

We still have a few spaces left in the California Advanced Art of Leadership. For the October East Coast session, you’ll receive an early registration discount of 10% off training fees if you apply by December 31, 2013. Just enter the code “POWER” on the online application.

For the February 24-27, 2014 West Coast training
Apply Here

For the East Coast October 20-23, 2014 training
Apply Here



Art of Leadership for Philanthropic Leaders

“I’m actually more joyful as a result of Rockwood — I’ve never been able to say that about a leadership training program!”  - Surina Khan, Ford Foundation

Now in its tenth year, the Art of Leadership for Philanthropic Leaders 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.

The deadline to apply is Dec 19, 2013.


Apply Here



6 Art of Leadership Trainings for Nonprofits and Social Change Leaders

"I believe that I now have a greater capacity to learn from my allies and from my adversaries." - Tzeporah Berman, ForestEthics

We have six Art of Leadership trainings coming up on the East and West Coast between now and June 2014. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about the program. You can review the five-day agenda here.


Apply Here



Windcall: Sabbatical for Community and Labor Organizers

From our partners at Windcall Institute: The Windcall Residency Program is a transformative, free, three-week residency/sabbatical for community and labor organizers working in low-income communities and communities of color across the country. Windcall residents return home with new visions, energy, and practices to sustain their organizing. At Windcall, your time is entirely your own, with the space to think, rest and reflect. Residencies will take place in the spring and fall of 2014.

Applications are being accepted through December 16th for the 2014 Windcall Residency Program. Go to for more information and to apply.


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