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CATALYST Stories of Transformation

The stories on this page are written as a tribute to our generous supporters who make it possible for more people to lead with greater courage and integrity–making the world a better place for the people they serve.

Stories of November 2017
Send more young leaders to Courage to Lead

JeffreyYou Helped This Leader Speak Truth to Power
Jeffrey is an openly gay, progressive, political candidate minister from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. And you helped him at an incredibly important time in his life. Though he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do yet, he knew he wanted a different kind of leadership experience. “I never thought that I was good enough or old enough to be involved in politics. It was something I might do later in my life. Then, I just made the decision that even though I knew I didn’t have a hope in hell of winning any election, I would step up and speak truth to power.” Read Jeffrey’s story>>

ManonWow! Thanks to You this Young Leader Rocks!
Manon is a young social justice activist and leader in Indiana. Thanks in part to your generosity, she attended a Courage to Lead for Young Leaders & Activists retreat in the midst of a long, soul-searching time in her life and work. When asked about it, Manon exclaimed without hesitation, “Everything changed, really. It was amazing.”
Read Manon’s story>>

Stories of April 2017
Transform a teacher, transform a school

Your gift created better schools
Principal Pat Montimurro discovered Leading Together, a Courage & Renewal program that strengthens relational trust in school communities. What she brought back to the school transformed it from the inside out – a direct result of your support. So much changed after Leading Together came to Melican, Pat notes. “Leading Together has improved school culture, that elusive component that we know is the foundation for all growth and success. Education is really about building connections with kids and with each other.” Read this story>>


Stories of November 2016
Your support multiplies to help so many people

You give more people great care by building stronger leaders
Dr. Herson had the opportunity to attend the Academy for Leaders at the same time he was promoted into a highly challenging role. “That Academy for Leaders was so perfectly timed for me in the first six months. Having two book-end retreats was also a perfect way to start, grow into, and get comfortable with that role. It was really important.” Read this story>>


Special Issue! September 2016
Your support renews and encourages young leaders

Your Amazing Support Gave a Leader Courage That She Paid Forward!
After a devastating chain of events, Kate Sheppard reached out to the Center for Courage & Renewal – and emerged a stronger leader, thanks to you. “I couldn’t have received a better gift at that moment…When you attend a retreat like that, it’s a process of renewal, of getting back into yourself,Kate said. Read this story>>


Stories of May 2016
Your support helped create healing, trust, and resilience!

You Helped Doctors Serve Patients with Heart!
Thanks to your gifts, physicians have rediscovered joy in medicine, helping them be more resilient and human in their practice. “Sometimes you tend to see a patient as an entity, not a person. Mukta taught us that to be a good physician you have to have an element of humanism.” Read this story>>

Your Gifts Supported Racial Healing
In Kalamazoo, people are learning to practice empathy and forgiveness across racial lines, a big step toward racial reconciliation. “The real takeaway is that it’s possible to have these conversations without hostility, anger or judgment,” said facilitator Bev Coleman. Read their story>>

A Leader’s Inner Strength Uncovered at Courage to Lead!
A few years ago Kate was on the verge of a breakdown. The stress of nonprofit leadership was overwhelming her. Thanks to you, Kate was able to build resilience so she could keep serving families in need. “Courage to Lead taught me to look after myself,” said Kate gratefully. Read her story>>


Stories of February 2016
Your support created positive change for communities

Disadvantaged Youth Build Confidence & Courage
Your support of Courage & Renewal helped Emma, a young adult in poverty, begin to create a brighter future. She’s learning to cope with her anxiety and is even planning on finishing school. It happened because she found the courage to be more of her whole self. “This program has helped me shine. I’ve overcome many barriers…” Emma said. Read her story>>

Community Heartbreak Healed with Courage
A heartbreaking murder in rural Vermont was the catalyst that inspired a whole community to come together and take actions toward better safety, trust, and respect. Thanks to you, Courage & Renewal helped guide their conversations. “We created an optimistic, hopeful experience that touched people in a deep way,” said facilitator Tara Reynolds. Read their story>>

A Pastor Realized her Dream of Helping Kids, Thanks to You!
Reverend Carol found clarity and courage to fulfill her dream of giving kids a safe place to learn and play during the summer. Now she’s bringing forth her gifts as a leader and those kids are getting a jump start on the school year. “I am grateful to Courage & Renewal and Soul Leaders for opening up this God-sized dream in me!” said Carol. Read her story>>


Stories of November 2015
Your support gave people dignity and courage

You Helped Struggling High Schoolers Succeed
Your contribution created incredible change in the lives of Rona’s students. By sharing Courage practices with her kids, she’s teaching them to be leaders of their own lives so they can achieve their best. “I carry the Touchstones with me into my life outside of school,” high school senior Amanda Rainey said. Read their story>>

The Courage to Talk about LGBTQ Inclusivity
Your support created a vital safe space for conversations about inclusivity at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Because of Courage Circle dialogues, the school is improving its culture, its students’ lives, and ultimately every person served by its graduates. “It was so much better than I imagined,” said president Lallene Rector. Read her story>>

You Gave a Latino Community Courage to Lead from Within
Latinos get a lot of negative messages from the media, telling them they’re criminals, they’re not welcome. But thanks to you, in Kalamazoo the Latino community has a new sense of belonging and empowerment. “With support from one another, they are beginning to take ownership of their community,” said Lori Santiago. Read their story>>


Special Issue! September 2015
An In-Depth Look at Your Support in South Dakota

You Renewed Courage in a Teacher Who Was Ready to Quit
Olivia was going to quit after her first semester teaching. The heartbreaking realities in the reservation community nearly overwhelmed her. Thanks to you, Olivia fell back in love with teaching and is giving her best self to her students. “I take care of myself so I can do right by my students,” said Olivia. Read her story>>

You Helped Cheerleaders Lead with Kindness and Authenticity
An unlikely friendship between cheerleaders from two culturally different communities brought encouragement to both their hometowns.“I want my girls to believe in themselves and see that they are part of change. And I wanted them to see that there are others motivated by the same dream,” said LeeVi, the cheerleaders’ coach. Read their story>>

Facilitators Help Teachers & Tribal Elders Connect Across Cultures
New teachers on or near Native American reservations were dropping out after their first year. Many schools had 100% turnover of new teachers. Thanks to your gift, the WoLakota Project has reversed this trend. “Of the fifty teachers we’ve supported, all remained in their schools for another year,” said facilitators Scott Simpson and Sharla Steever. Read their story>>


Stories of May 2015

Students Made School a Kinder, Safer Place Thanks to You!
Your support gave middle school students like Lorean a chance to learn Habits of the Heart, helping them be more compassionate and connected. “This has really changed my life. I’m so excited to have learned this,” said one of the 8th graders. Read their story>>

You Helped Midwives Deliver Babies with Great Love
Helping to deliver babies is a joyful experience—and also an exhausting job. Thanks to you, Jennie and her midwife team are nurturing a sense of resilience, acceptance and accomplishment.“We have a phenomenal group dynamic, and it has a lot to do with Courage & Renewal.” Read her story>>

You Gave Resilience & Renewal to a Public Servant
Erika was used to conflict, dealing with members of the public in an uproar over wastewater treatment projects. But to experience conflict in her team was unexpected. After attending a Courage & Renewal class, she said, “For the first time in three years, I can say that I love my work again.Read her story>>


Stories of February 2015

ryan-murtfeldtMusic Teacher Helps Kids be Jazzed About School
Ryan Murtfeldt wondered how he could combine his passion for helping kids grow with his responsibility to teach the subject matter. Thanks to your support he participated in a Courage to Teach series, which gave him the courage to bring his best self to the classroom. “I’m happier in my job, and I’m definitely doing a better job teaching!” Read his story>>

2-cristin-and-gabeA Mother Speaks Up for Healthier Lives
Attending the Courage to Lead for Young Leaders and Activists retreat helped Cristin Lind get clear on her own truth. Now she’s confidently advocating for wholeness in health care on behalf of her son, Gabe, and families everywhere. “My expertise comes from my experience. I now have the courage to accept that being myself is more than enough.” Read her story>>

3-LennonFlowers_sequoyahYou Gave Renewed Life to a Life-Giving Young Leader
“I was perilously close to burnout,” said Lennon Flowers, a young social entrepreneur. Thanks to your gifts, Lennon had attended a retreat for her own self-renewal. Even more amazing, she’s weaving Courage & Renewal practices into the fabric of her organization, which helps connect people in their 20s and 30s who have experienced significant loss. “Courage & Renewal has had a catalytic impact on our work.” Read her story>>


Stories of December 2014

Kerrie-Bourland-slideYou Transformed a Teacher with Courage to Teach
When Kerrie Bourland came to teach at a Texas public school, two teachers had already quit that semester. The students were not engaged and the principal seemed not to care. Courage to Teach helped Kerrie stay in the game and turn things around. “One day I hit a wall…I was so ready to get out of the classroom. Parker Palmer’s philosophies and the Courage & Renewal facilitators changed my perception of teaching.” Read her story>>

woody-english-slideYou Help Patients & Doctors Talk About What Matters Most
Dr. Woody English brought Courage & Renewal practices to palliative care teams. It’s helping patients, families and caregivers have meaningful conversations when facing serious illness or end of life. “It’s important that patients and families have a safe space to talk about love and loss, anger, regret, sadness, and fear.” Read his story>>

Parker J. PalmerWhat Task Is Calling to You? Reflection from Parker J. Palmer
“I had never seen poverty of the sort I saw at Mary House. I was overwhelmed by the numbers of people who came through the breadline every day bearing the marks of deep suffering. And every time I returned, a new tidal wave of misery had washed over the place. One day I asked Kassie the question that has been vexing me: “How do you keep doing this hard, heart-wrenching work when you know you’ll wake up tomorrow to problems that are as bad or worse than the ones you’re dealing with today?” I’ve never forgotten Kassie’s answer… Read his story>>


Stories of September 2014

jeanne-120Planting the Seeds of Peace & Trust in Africa
Jeanne Strong used the Courage & Renewal practices to help develop curricular activities for teachers in Burundi. In a country where genocide and civil war have left deep scars, she gave them a tool for healing. “It sounded like what we hear after Courage to Teach retreats. The teachers say, ‘I’m not angry any more. I listen to my children. I laugh with them. I’m at peace.’”  Read her story>>

heather-120You Boosted Teachers to Their Best
Heather Krill and other teachers at Lin-Wood High School discovered the spirit of community and collegiality that had been missing, thanks to Courage to Teach. Student achievement and staff morale are higher than ever before. “It transformed the whole culture of our school district. I feel like we live and teach in a supportive, nurturing environment.”  Read her story>>

alison-120Keeping an Immigrant Family Together
When an immigrant father and husband faced the threat of deportation, Alison Harrington led her church’s decision to answer the call for social justice. The first church to start the Sanctuary Movement 30 years ago once again kept an immigrant family together. “Our entire community became mobilized and awakened. We worked and struggled to protect Daniel’s family. It shows we’re all in this together.”  Read her story>>


Stories of May 2014

Shawn DoveHumble As A Lamb, Bold As A Lion!
Shawn Dove was managing the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and almost burned out. Then facilitator Estrus Tucker helped Shawn reclaim his passion. “The process transformed a fading spark in my heart into flame to answer the current leadership call on my life…”  Read his story »

catalyst-candace-pg2Your Gifts at Work – in a Middle School!
Candace Lane, principal of Black Water Middle School, brought authentic leadership to her school with Courage & Renewal. “Our teachers are coming alive in the classroom, bringing their true selves, which creates a safe space for students, too. Creating a culture of trust between adults and children has made a difference in the whole school community.”  Read her story »

catalyst-faye-pg3Pastor Builds a Stronger, Authentic Community
Faye Orton Snyder, former senior pastor, gave new life to her preaching, her vision and her congregation. “It’s such a life-giving process. When you change the lives of pastors you change their work, and when you change their work you change their community.”  Read her story »


Stories of February 2014

parkerpalmer-mail150Putting Wheels on Parker J. Palmer’s Ideas
Founder Parker J. Palmer talks about the collective legacy of his work with the Center for Courage & Renewal. “…the success of our work should be measured by its capacity to draw to us committed, competent, caring people who are doing significant work in the world around problems that need solutions and things that matter.”  Read his story »

Stephen LewisConnecting Organizational Soul & Role
Stephen Lewis, President of the Forum for Theological Exploration, reflects on the relationship between courageous leadership and great organizations. “It’s not just me dictating to others, but discerning and learning with a team of people who share a commitment, values and a deep longing for an organization in which we can thrive.”  Read his story »

catalyst-herdleypaoliniOffering Antidotes to Physician Burnout
Herdley Paolini, Director of Physician Support Services at Florida Hospital, is tackling the crisis of physician burnout through Courage work. “I have physicians who…say, ‘This has changed my life. I was at the bottom. I could not think of practicing one more day, before I came to this retreat. I now feel renewed. And now my staff say they don’t recognize me.’”  Read her story »


Stories of November 2013

Kelly-CamakInspiring Students to Discover Their Gifts
Kelly Camak is an educational coach who’s using Courage & Renewal to help teachers inspire their students. “Such transformation happened because he was able to focus on his talents, and see how that applied to his work in a way that wasn’t academically intimidating. It was really powerful.”  Read her story »

Rob Meyer, MD, helps new pediatricians explore meaning in medicine.Connecting to the Heart of Medicine
Rob Meyer, MD, discusses the importance of physicians staying true to their passion and being able to forge genuine connections with patients. “It gives the residents a chance to reflect on the reasons they went into medicine in the first place. Incorporating reflective practice into their lives will help them be better physicians now and for the long run.”  Read his story »

Debbie StanleyLearning the Power of Authentic Questions
Debbie Stanley rediscovered that her calling was to be in the classroom, not the dean’s office. Courage & Renewal helped her find that truth. “I decided, divided no more. I am going to go with what I think is right, and that is to be with children in a way that is humane, authentic and loving. That is really important to me. I teach who I am.”  Read her story »


Stories of October 2013

catalyst-ellie-web350Entire Freshman Class Transformed
Ellie Gilbert, a 9th grade teacher, struggled and faced burnout. Courage & Renewal helped her find her way back to the classroom. “At 22, I felt passion was all I needed to be a good teacher. It was like having a well that was running dry quickly, with nothing replenishing it. I didn’t know how to sustain myself or how to be vulnerable. But I wanted to go back. Teaching is a calling.”  Read her story »

Courage to Lead Inspires a Shift
Sandra Copley was feeling totally disillusioned in her job with the Santa Barbara Public Health Department before Courage & Renewal changed her whole outlook on leadership. “I began to gently hold and nurture my role as a leader…And accept my worth as a unique force in the community. My paradigm shifted.”  Read her story »

catalyst-amy-web350From Good to Great in the Classroom
Amy Swenson talks about the remarkable power of trustworthy relationships between students and teachers, and how Courage & Renewal helped her see that. “For the first time she saw her students as human beings, not as the subject matter. ‘I had shown up in my teaching, and as a result, my students did as well. Now as I open up and tell them my stories, they do the same.'”  Read her story »