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Facilitator Preparation Program 2017-18

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - Sunday, June 25, 2017

February 15-19, 2017
near Phoenix, AZ

June 21-25, 2017
near Chicago, IL


The application deadline for Facilitator Preparation 2017-18 has passed.

Please note, you must have attended a Gateway Retreat, plus one or more C&R retreats prior to Gateway, to be eligible for Facilitator Preparation.



TABLE OF CONTENTS (click to jump to)
A. Program Description
B. Purpose of the Facilitator Preparation Program
C. Steps to Becoming a Courage & Renewal Facilitator
D. Components of the Facilitator Preparation Program
E. Leadership Team for the Facilitator Preparation Program
F. Who Should Apply?
G. Application Process
H. Selection Process
I. Program Fees

"quote-LIs it possible to become more intentional about creating spaces—in relationship, in community—where our fearful shadows can emerge into the light to be seen for what they are, where the truth and love within us can appear and make a claim on our lives?

We obviously are expert at creating spaces of other sorts. We know, for example, how to create spaces that invite the intellect to show up, analyzing reality, parsing logic, and arguing its case. We know how to invite the emotions into play, reacting to injury, expressing anger, and celebrating joy. We know how to invite the will to emerge, consolidating energy and effort on behalf of a common task. We know beyond doubt how to invite the ego to put in an appearance, polishing its image, protecting its turf, and demanding its rights! But we seem to know very little about creating spaces that invite the soul to make itself known. —Parker J. Palmer

A Circle of Trust® is the kind of carefully created space that invites the soul to make itself known—the kind of space where we can practice the paradox of “being alone together,” a space that welcomes our inwardness even as it connects us to the gifts and challenges of community, and to the larger world. The Courage & Renewal Facilitator Preparation Program is a two-year leadership and mentoring program for preparing facilitators to lead retreats and other programs based on the Circle of Trust® approach.

The Center for Courage & Renewal (CCR) carefully prepares facilitators who have the qualities, capacities and skills required to hold and guide a process that allows people to engage their deepest hopes and fears in a community of shared exploration. CCR prepares facilitators to do in-depth work with all persons who wish to live and work more wholeheartedly and to act with courage and integrity. We also welcome facilitators who wish to work specifically in serving professions such as education, healthcare, religious life, and non-profit and community leadership. Our expectation is that facilitators prepared through this program intend to create personal and professional renewal programs and retreats that ascribe to Circle of Trust® Principles and Practices.

In addition to planning and facilitating retreats, facilitators play a crucial role in networking and developing institutional and/or community partnerships from which to “grow” this work (i.e. facilitators do not “work” for the Center). Thus, being a Circle of Trust facilitator combines leadership and facilitation with responsibility for program development in the facilitator’s community or profession.

Once an individual is accepted into the Facilitator Preparation Program they also join over 260 other Courage & Renewal facilitators around the United States, in Canada, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Spain in a network called the Courage Collaboration. The Courage Collaboration is a resource and leadership-rich group that operates as a community of learning and practice. We are committed to ongoing learning as a community, and connection and participation from all facilitators is encouraged and expected as a way of ensuring the high quality and continued professional development of Courage & Renewal facilitators.

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

The Facilitator Preparation Program cultivates qualities of presence and leadership, strengthens facilitation skills and develops competence in the following areas:

  • Ability to create a disciplined yet nurturing space for taking an inner journey in community.
  • A deep and demonstrated understanding of the Principles and Practices of the Circle of Trust® approach.
  • Capacity for introducing and developing Courage & Renewal programs and retreats.
  • Increased awareness of diversity, inclusion, and racial/social equity as it relates to expanding the diversity in our circles and deepening the welcome to the communities we serve.
  • Leadership/facilitation rooted in an understanding of the power of paradox.
  • Creating dialogical teaching and learning experiences using poems, teaching stories, and other modalities and incorporating evocative questions, silence, reflection and conversation in community.
  • Integration and facilitation of deep-listening practices (e.g., use of silence, solitude, Clearness Committee process).

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  1. Prior experience with Courage & Renewal retreats: We have found that the more personal experience of this approach that a potential facilitator has, the better. Those interested in becoming facilitators will ideally have attended one or more Courage & Renewal retreats, one of which should have included a Clearness Committee, PRIOR to applying for the Gateway retreat. Go to the retreat calendar.
  2. Attendance at the Gateway Retreat for Prospective Courage & Renewal Facilitators: What sets the Gateway Retreat apart from others is the additional focus on learning more about how we prepare facilitators, about the broader work of Courage & Renewal, and an opportunity to discern your own interests around becoming a facilitator. The next Gateway Retreat dates are pending.
  3. Then, apply for the next Facilitator Preparation Program: Applications for the 2017-18 Facilitator Preparation Program are due by November 21, 2016 (from people who attended a Gateway retreat).

  4. If selected, the program involves participation in two 5-day facilitator preparation retreats (Feb. 15-19, 2017 in Arizona and June 21-25, 2017 in Illinois), 1-2 years of mentoring with an experienced facilitator, and participation in an ongoing community of practice with cohort members and mentor facilitators.

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I. Exploratory Phase

Gateway Retreat
This program provides a retreat experience and offers participants the opportunity to carefully consider their interest in becoming a facilitator. An application is required for participation in the Gateway Retreat and a group of 25-30 persons will be selected to attend. As this is an opportunity for mutual discernment about next steps, attendance at a Gateway Retreat is a prerequisite to submitting a final application to proceed with facilitator preparation.

II. Facilitator Preparation Program

A. Preparation Retreat 1
5 p.m. Wednesday, February 15 – Noon, Sunday, February 19, 2017
Spirit in the Desert • Carefree, Arizona •
We begin our time together in retreat, grounding ourselves and our work together “in community” for the coming year. Threads of exploration in this first retreat include working with paradox, behind-the-scenes exploration of Clearness Committees, in-depth exploration of the Core Values and Principles & Practices that underlie this approach, the importance of diversity in our circles and self-awareness regarding the lenses and experiences we bring with us. In this retreat we work with key aspects of program development, introducing communication and program resources available through the Center, as well as the resource-rich network of facilitators in the Courage Collaboration.

B. Communities of Practice
Between these bookend retreats there will be “hands on” learning assignments regarding aspects of facilitation, preparing for Clearness Committees, and program development to create opportunities for greater understanding and integration of core competencies. In addition there will be an online component for the entire cohort and at least two conference calls for smaller “communities of practice” groups to discuss ongoing learning.

C. Preparation Retreat 2
5 p.m. Wednesday, June 21 – Noon, Sunday, June 25, 2017
Techny Towers • Techny, IL •
At this retreat new facilitators continue to deepen their understanding of the conditions and processes that help create circles of trust. A significant amount of time will be given to facilitator practice sessions as a way to extend new facilitator’s experiences with design and facilitation. Considerations for creating and working with groups in retreats, finding suitable venues and handling group dynamics will be explored. We will also re-visit program and financial development topics explored earlier.

D. Mentoring in the Second Year
Once the Facilitator Preparation retreats are underway each new facilitator will be paired with an experienced facilitator who will act as a mentor during the second year of facilitator preparation. The mentoring relationship is an important resource and ongoing connection for the new facilitator, providing support and guidance, as well as practical knowledge related to retreat design and facilitation. New facilitators and mentors will create a Learning Plan for the year to include an opportunity for program or retreat planning and co-facilitation. CCR staff and mentors work closely with new facilitators to support growth and discern readiness at every step of the preparation process.

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John FennerJohn Fenner leads the Center’s Facilitator Preparation Program along with the Center’s programs for Clergy and Congregational Leaders. John has led Circle of Trust retreats since 2003 and has also worked as a consultant to nonprofits, churches, and communities on conflict resolution, dialogue, racial equity, and organizational/community change processes. Between 1989 and 2006, John served as Executive Director of the Center for Dialogue, a community-based nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of peaceful communities and positive change in individuals and organizations.

Marcy JacksonMarcy Jackson, MSW, MPH, is Co-founder and Senior Fellow for the Center for Courage & Renewal (CCR). She served as Co-Director of the Center for 13 years and developed and directed the Courage & Renewal Facilitator Preparation Program for 16 years. She is currently on the leadership team for CCR’s Facilitator Preparation Program, mentors and supports new facilitators and leads Courage to Lead retreats for young leaders and activists. She has been facilitating Courage & Renewal retreats since 1996 with people from a variety of backgrounds and professions in the US and internationally. Previously, Marcy worked with individuals, groups, and families as a child and family therapist, grief counselor and group facilitator. She enjoys walking beaches and forests in the Pacific Northwest and pursuing creative interests in painting, writing and singing. She lives on Bainbridge Island, WA.

Parker J. PalmerParker J. Palmer, Ph.D., is a writer, teacher, and activist who works independently on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality, and social change. He is also founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. Palmer’s work spans a wide range of institutions: colleges and universities, public schools, religious communities and other non-profit organizations, healthcare institutes, and foundations. His publications include ten poems, more than one hundred essays, and nine books: The Promise of Paradox, The Company of Strangers, To Know As We Are Known, The Active Life, The Courage to Teach, Let Your Life Speak, A Hidden Wholeness, The Heart of Higher Education (with Arthur Zajonc), and, most recently, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. His work has been recognized with several national awards and ten honorary doctorates. In 2011, Palmer was named an Utne Reader Visionary, one of “25 people who are changing your world.”

Debbie StanleyDebbie Stanley, Ph.D., retired in 2011 after 31 years in education as a public school educator and Early Childhood professor of the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina University. She has served as Horry County Chair of the First Steps state initiative. She has written and presented various articles on diversity in the public school classroom. Her response to “The Bridge” poem is included in the book Teaching with Fire—Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach. Debbie is a seasoned Courage & Renewal Facilitator, and was on the board of directors for the Center for Courage & Renewal.

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As there is a high degree of subtlety and sophistication to this type of leadership, we are looking for people who:

  • have had significant experience with this approach prior to preparing to be a Courage & Renewal facilitator;
  • are committed to their ongoing inner work, who practice reflection and renewal in their own life;
  • embody a strong sense of identity and integrity within their chosen work or profession;
  • wish to be part of a rich learning experience, during facilitator preparation and beyond;
  • have experience in program development, marketing, fundraising and are well-positioned, to bring the Circle of Trust® approach into their profession or community;

Potential facilitators should:

  • have experience in group facilitation and/or retreat leadership with adults;
  • possess strong relationship skills and the ability to work collaboratively;
  • be able to create a hospitable space for diverse groups of people, as well as to set clear boundaries;
  • be dedicated to creating safe and trustworthy spaces in which others can do their own inner work.

Priority is given to applicants who demonstrate their vision, commitment, connections, and capacity to establish and sustain new Courage & Renewal programs within their network and/or community.

The Center is also committed to increasing the diversity within our network of Courage & Renewal facilitators so that we may fully engage and reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

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When applying, make sure that you can fully attend both facilitator preparation retreats.

  1. Register online.  During registration you will be asked to upload the following:
  1. A professional vitae/resume outlining your relevant academic and professional experience.
  2. Two letters of reference that speak to personal qualities and professional experiences that relate specifically to the role of a Courage & Renewal facilitator.
  1. A personal statement that addresses (Please use each question below as a heading and please keep your application to no more than 3-5 pages):
  • Interest: Why you are interested in pursuing facilitator preparation at this time, and how participation in the program fits with your understanding of your vocation;
  • Inner Life: How you stay connected with your own inner life. Are there inner work and/or spiritual practices that have particular meaning for you in this regard?
  • Important Questions: Question(s) you hold that have deep importance to you at this time;
  • Facilitation Experience: Your experiences in group facilitation, retreat leadership, or teaching that relate to this type of facilitation;
  • Participation in Circle of Trust Retreats: The number of Circle of Trust Retreats you have participated in and the names of the Courage & Renewal facilitators of those retreats;
  • Diversity/Inclusion Experience: Your experience working with diverse groups and/or particular training in diversity and inclusion and social/racial equity, and;
  • Program Development Experience: Your program development experience including your capacity to establish this work in your community or profession, including connections with kindred organizations and institutions, collegial networks, and local grant-making and philanthropic organizations to help market, recruit participants, and provide financial support.

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Due to the growing interest in this work as well as the capacities and skills that are necessary to successfully establish retreat programs and circles of trust, numerous factors go into our discernment and selection process. Of prime importance are an individual’s personal qualities and relationship skills, as well as previous experience with group facilitation and/or retreat leadership. Secondly, we are interested in an individual’s capacities and connections in areas of program development, organizational life, friend-raising and fundraising. We also factor in such things as geographic representation, racial and ethnic diversity, age diversity and work context. We wish to foster a culture of collaboration with our network of facilitators; therefore, we consult with existing facilitators in a given locale regarding their priorities and need for additional facilitators.

We share this information to let you know that selections for this program are made within a context that is complex and multi-layered. In other words, individual applications are looked at in relation to the overall pool of applicants and program considerations. In some cases this may mean that qualified individuals are not selected due to the other considerations we are trying to balance in any given year. Due to the investment of time and care required for the preparation and mentoring phases of this program, we anticipate inviting sixteen to twenty persons into the facilitator preparation program that begins in 2017.

The Facilitator Preparation Leadership Team participates in the discernment and selection process for the new facilitator cohort each year.

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The program fees, which includes room and board costs for two facilitator preparation retreats, mentoring and leadership, retreat materials, access to online and other program resources, are as follows:

Tuition: $5,000; includes two facilitator preparation retreats, mentoring and leadership, retreat materials, access to online facilitator resources and other program resources.

Lodging & Meals: $1,000; includes both retreats.

Participants will be staying in double occupancy rooms for both retreats unless there are special circumstances.

Participants are responsible for their own travel to the facilitator preparation retreats.

Upon acceptance into the program, you will receive an Acceptance Form detailing next steps regarding the program and setting up a payment plan. Full payment is due before the start of retreat #2. We have a modest fund to help offset program costs for those who need the assistance in order to participate. To apply for financial aid, please complete our online financial aid form upon acceptance into the program.

A special fund for financial assistance is available for clergy and congregational leaders through a grant from the Lilly Endowment.

For questions or more information contact John Fenner, Director of Facilitator Preparation, Center for Courage & Renewal, at:

Nondiscrimination Policy: The Center for Courage & Renewal and its facilitators do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, height, weight, physical or mental ability, veteran status, military obligations, and marital status.

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