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Rockwood Institute

President's Message


I’m old enough to remember when music, dance, art and poetry were integral parts of social change. No one would even consider having a meeting that didn’t include some aspect of celebrating the human spirit. There is something deeply satisfying about gathering in groups and singing together. Collective music around the fire or down by the riverside is an integral part of our human story, and our social movements are suffering as a result of a lack of common song.

Something was lost when we began to professionalize the making of social change. Our songs became chants, our dances became marches, our rallies became meetings and our art was relegated to the walls of conferences.

When was the last time you sang, recited poetry or danced in a professional setting? It’s been awhile for me, and that’s not a good thing. Fortunately, we have folks like Dan Zanes and Toshi Reagon who teach us about the power of collective song. Sarah Crowell and alum Joe Goode remind us how to dance and move; Drew Dellinger and alum Logan Phillips remind us about the power of words; and alums Cece Carpio and Ashley Minner bring beauty to our eyes.

What might happen if we were to burst into song the next time we hit a tense moment in a board meeting? Or dance as we made our way to our seats at our next professional conference? One of my staff members has taken to skipping through the office, and I can’t tell you how thoroughly it delights me.

Leadership can be one of the best things about being human. Sometimes I worry that social change leadership has become a bit dreary, and could use some breath, air and tone. Song.

This month, I invite you to sing – in your shower, office or at staff meetings. Take a dance break. Write a poem instead of a list. Paint your way out of your next problem. Try skipping through the hallways.

Let’s look for ways to enliven our leadership, and humanize our work by returning to basic human capacities that need no agendas, flip charts or work plans. Let’s grab a partner, a funder, a staff or board member and sing, dance, write or play – it will be good for our souls and even better for the world.

From my heart to yours.

October 2014

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Rockwood Leaders Changing the World

Cristóbal Joshua Alex (President, Latino Victory Project) and Rashad Robinson’s (Executive Director, piece, Ensuring the Voices of Government Reflect the People They Represent, appeared in The Huffington Post.

Darlene Nipper (Deputy Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force and Rockwood trainer), Rea Carey (Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force), Sarah Reece (Director, The Academy for Leadership and Action, National LGBTQ Task Force) and Stacey Long Simmons (Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs, National LGBTQ Task Force) are featured in a video included in the ROYGBIV piece, National Gay And Lesbian Task Force Changes Name To LGBTQ Task Force.

Lara Granich (Director, Missouri Jobs with Justice) received the Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award from the National Consumers League.

President Obama nominated Vanita Gupta (Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU and Director of the ACLU's Center for Justice) to head the civil rights division of the Justice Department.

Virginia Sloan (President and Founder of The Constitution Project) is one of three finalists for an Excellence in Advocacy Award in a Federal Campaign from the Professional Women in Advocacy Conference.

Are you a Rockwood Alum? Send us your news.



Art of Leadership for Women Working in Racial Justice and Human Rights

The 8th annual Art of Leadership for Women Working in Racial Justice and Human Rights is coming up! The session will be held December 8-12, 2014 at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY, and the deadline to apply is November 17, 2014. Read what six alum of the 2013 Art of Leadership for Women in Racial Justice and Human Rights session had to say about their experience on the Rockwood blog.

Apply Here



Discount on Management Center Trainings

The Management Center is offering a discount to the Rockwood community for any of their popular management training courses that are held across the country. To receive the discount, select "my organization is a current client of TMC" when registering. You can view a schedule of their upcoming trainings here.




Advanced Art of Leadership

The next Advanced Art of Leadership will be held March 16-19, 2015 at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma, California. This training is for graduates of the Art of Leadership who are ready to take on a greater leadership role, deepen their skills, and build on what they learned at the Art of Leadership. Whether you attended the Art of Leadership years ago, or would like to apply to both the Art of Leadership and Advanced at the same time, this 4-day retreat will enable you to integrate real changes into your life and leadership

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Art of Leadership for Racial Justice and Human Right Leaders

Because of the popularity of the Art of Leadership for Women Working in Racial Justice and Human Rights, we’re offering a new training that is inclusive of all genders: the Art of Leadership for Racial Justice and Human Rights Leaders. This training is open to leaders of color and white leaders who have:

  • A commitment to racial justice and human rights in their work.
  • Experience working in communities of color on issues such as environmental justice, media justice, racial equity, poverty, and reproductive justice.
  • Incorporated a racial justice and human rights framework in their advocacy, philanthropy or organizing.

The Art of Leadership for Racial Justice and Human Rights Leaders will be held March 23-27, 2015 at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma, California.

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2015 Training Schedule

The 2015 schedule of Art of Leadership and Advanced Art of Leadership trainings is up!

Wondering about future dates? Contact us.


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