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The Academy for Leaders


The Academy for Leaders is a unique professional development program that will transform your leadership, helping you ignite your courage to lead from within.

Leadership is demanding, especially when you care about what you do. Stress, pressure and uncertainties can grind you down. Even with exceptional skills, you can’t keep making an impact if you can’t sustain your leadership.
How do you stay in the game?

Sustainable, courageous leadership hinges on your ability to know your own values and act on them. When you’re true to yourself, and true with others, that authenticity translates into trust. And trustworthy relationships translate into more effective, wholehearted leaders, teams and results.

"quote-L "quote-RNew leadership is needed for new times, but it will not come from finding new and more wily ways to manipulate the external world. It will come as we who lead find the courage to take an inward journey toward both our shadow and our light, a journey that, faithfully pursued, will take us beyond ourselves to become healers of the wounded world.

Parker J. Palmer, Author, Activist and Center Founder


The Academy for Leaders isn’t just for formal leaders. The Center for Courage & Renewal believes that the world needs a new kind of leadership, the kind that means having the wisdom and courage to see what is needed and do it. It means acting on your core values, engaging others to do the same as you work together to move common goals forward. It means bringing your whole self to the complex tasks of collaboration, education, healing and change.

If you have ever asked yourself, “how can I contribute to something greater than myself?” you are a new leader.

The Courage & Renewal Academy for Leaders is designed for this new leadership. Imagine a safe space where you are free to explore questions like: What do I offer the world? What inspires me, challenges me, and gives my life meaning? What are my strengths and limitations? How can I lead with compassion? How do I stay true in the midst of trials?

Join like-minded peers from across all professions and take a deep dive into the heart of leadership. Through storytelling, reflection and facilitated discussions, you’ll have an opportunity to reflect on your work, renew your energy and passion for your cause, and strengthen your leadership within a community of practice.

Lead authentically. Lead with integrity.

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Voices of the Academy

CJ Callen“Leadership is hard. People put so many expectations on us. Sometimes you get into survival mode. This space, this place, this commitment to understanding yourself and your leadership role, will allow you to thrive.”

- CJ Callen, CEO of Youth Leadership Institute

bonniecampbell150“I got such a sense of hope for the future that there were more people concerned with deeper issues, wanting to push out their experience to benefit the rest of the world. It was staggering and inspirational.”

- Bonnie Campbell, Director of Community Impact for Foodbanks

mike-seely2-apr12-academy-150The six months in the Courage & Renewal Academy for Leaders was the most useful, meaningful professional development I’ve experienced in a long time.

- Mike Seely, Executive Director Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank



Parker J. Palmer on Effectiveness vs. Faithfulness
Parker Palmer is a world-renowned author, teacher and Founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal

"quote-L"quote-RIf we are to stand and act with hope in the tragic gap and do it for the long haul, we cannot settle for mere “effectiveness” as the ultimate measure of our failure or success. Yes, we want to be effective in pursuit of important goals. But when measurable, short-term outcomes become the only or primary standard for assessing our efforts, the upshot is as pathetic as it is predictable: we take on smaller and smaller tasks—the only kind that yield instantly visible results—and abandon the large, impossible but vital jobs we are here to do.

We must judge ourselves by a higher standard than effectiveness, the standard called faithfulness. Are we faithful to the community on which we depend, to doing what we can in response to its pressing needs? Are we faithful to the better angels of our nature and to what they call forth from us? Are we faithful to the eternal conversation of the human race, to speaking and listening in a way that takes us closer to truth? Are we faithful to the call of courage that summons us to witness to the common good, even against great odds? When faithfulness is our standard, we are more likely to sustain our engagement with tasks that will never end: doing justice, loving mercy, and calling the beloved community into being.

- Parker J. Palmer


The Courage & Renewal Academy for Leaders is for you if…

  • You want to take your leadership to the next level and you’re game for the challenge of introspection toward self-growth.
  • You are rethinking how you want to offer your leadership to the world, whether you are in a new position, in transition, or hoping to renew your sense of meaning and purpose.
  • You would appreciate learning with a community of diverse leaders from across professional sectors to discuss the hard work of solving complex social issues.
  • You would like to receive academic credit or continuing ed. units for participation in a leadership development series.
  • You resonate with the Circle of Trust® approach and the ideas of Parker J. Palmer—or you see the potential and want to know more.

"quote-L"quote-RFor too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place.”

William Deresiewicz

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Academy for Leaders Program Agenda

The Academy will engage a 30-person cohort in a professionally facilitated three-part process that unfolds over six months. The Courage & Renewal Academy for Leaders is designed for and enhanced by the participation of people like you: experienced organizational and community leaders from diverse professions—including education, health care, business, public service, nonprofit, philanthropy, and religious life.

Retreat #1 will explore principles and practices that support authentic and courageous leadership. Over four days, you’ll experience and explore the Six Foundations of Trustworthy Leadership. Then you will focus your intentions by creating a plan to practice them in your life and leadership. We will also hold Clearness Committees. You’ll learn how to:

Click to Download "Six Foundations of Trustworthy Leadership"

  • Clarify your purpose and integrity through an ongoing inner journey
  • Ask honest, open questions and apply deep listening
  • Hold paradox and tensions in the face of complexity and uncertainty
  • Build trustworthy relationships in communities and organizations
  • Appreciate the value of “otherness”
  • Grow through seasons of personal, professional and organizational change

Monthly Peer Learning Circles Over the following six months, you will practice implementing that plan within the realities of your organizational/community roles. You will receive support through monthly Peer Learning Circle teleconferences in which groups of 4-5 participants provide opportunities for mutual sharing, listening and learning. Learn more about Peer Learning Circles.

Retreat #2 is when you’ll come back together with your close-knit, trustworthy cohort for a final four days. You will share your case stories, gather the collective wisdom of the group, affirm your learnings, and identify opportunities to further apply the Courage & Renewal approach in your life and leadership. We will also hold Clearness Committees.

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Program Details

2015-16 Academy for Leaders — North Carolina
September 30 – October 3, 2015 | monthly PLC calls | April 6 to April 9, 2016

the first session of each retreat starts at 3 pm on Wednesday; the final session concludes with lunch at 12 pm on Saturday

Venue: St. Francis Springs Center (50 minutes from Greensboro)
477 Grogan Road, Stoneville, NC 27048

*Reflects the $400 Early Bird Discount available until July 31

Room & Board: Double occupancy room……$700
Single occupancy room……$1,000
Commuter (meals only)……$400
All rates are based on actual venue costs

Travel: Participants are responsible for their own travel costs.

Facilitators: Gayle Williams, John Fenner, and Sherry Wattflierdownload

2015-16 Academy for Leaders — Minnesota
October 22 – October 25, 2015 | monthly PLC calls | April 28 – May 1, 2016

the first session of each retreat starts at 3 pm on Thursday; the final session concludes with lunch at 12 pm on Sunday

Venue: Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center (35 minutes from Minneapolis)
1 Oakridge Dr, Chaska, MN 55318

*Reflects the $400 Early Bird Discount available until August 22

Room & Board: Double occupancy room……$900
Single occupancy room……$1,200
Commuter (meals only)……$600
All rates are based on actual venue costs

Travel: Participants are responsible for their own travel costs.

Facilitators: Laura Kinkead and Estrus Tuckerflierdownload

Before registering…

Courage-181CONSIDER: Most participants prefer a single room for rest and renewal. Before registering for a double, consider whether your sleeping habits would be easily compatible with a roommate.

REGISTRATION: A $400 non-refundable deposit is due at registration to secure your spot. When you register, you’ll be asked a series of open-ended discernment questions. Those questions will be:
1. What is your hope for participation—personally? In your leadership?
2. What is the setting in which you currently provide leadership?

CANCELLATION POLICY: We understand that life challenges emerge and changes happen. If you must cancel, you can receive a full refund minus the non-refundable $400 deposit when you notify the Center at least one month before the program begins. Barring exceptional emergencies, no refund can be given for cancellations received less than one month before the first retreat. Read the full cancellation policy here.

FINANCIAL AID: The Center for Courage & Renewal is committed to making its programs available to people of all financial means. With the support of the Lilly Endowment, we have designated funds to support faith leaders’ participation in our programs. We also have limited funds available for educators, nonprofit leaders, and healthcare professionals. We offer Financial Aid to partially offset the cost of tuition and we also have payment plan options. Apply for financial aid here.

CREDITS: You have the option to receive either continuing education units or academic credits through City University of Seattle. Please contact for more information.


Voices of the Academy

Click to watch more videos from past Academy participants



“Being aligned, being ‘trued up’ with your True North, that’s what’s being offered here… I received confirmation, affirmation, validation and the courage to align my work with my most deeply held values, motivations and desires for meaning and contribution.”

- Valerie Purnell, Legislative Advocate & Educational Lobbyist

Alan-academy“The continuity built between meaningful, substantive immersion programs offers the depth and duration to help carry us forward in our work. The approach is powerful. It’s been a great investment of time and resources, and we’ll bring it back in spades.”

- Alan Furth, Executive Director, Cobscook Community Learning Center