Courage & Renewal Academy for Leaders

Academy alumni say...

 Scroll down to see videos.
 Scroll down to see videos

“A truly unique program focusing on the courage to build matters of the heart into the workplace.”

“A deep dive into the issues that matter most to leaders.”

“Like too many leaders, I’d assumed the form of a comet, sailing way too fast and at risk of burning out. Providing courage for renewal, this program placed me back on trustworthy ground.”

“This was an opportunity to do personal, reflective, inner work around my own leadership, supported by a community of like-minded peers from an array of professions.”

“What I’ve experienced is a trustworthy approach to professional development that brings us back to the true meaning of leadership in a world at risk of forgetting.” (Read more of this leader's story)

New 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 a wounded world.
—Parker J. Palmer


Would you like to deepen your ability to be a more wholehearted, authentic and effective leader?

If so, you are invited to join the next Courage & Renewal Academy for Leaders, an experience that offers skills and practices unlike any other leadership development program.

In this intimate six-month program with 30 peers, you will cultivate your capacity for self-awareness, exceptional listening, and discernment. The result is an uncanny ability to build relational trust — the foundation of authentic leadership. 


Take a "Deep Dive" into the Heart & Soul of Leadership

The Academy for Leaders unfolds over six months:

1.    The initial four-day residential retreat, October 16-19 2014, will focus on Courage & Renewal principles and practices that support effective and courageous leadership, focusing on six foundations:

    • Clarifying purpose and integrity through an ongoing inner journey
    • Applying deep listening and honest, open questions
    • Holding paradox and tensions in the face of complexity and uncertainty
    • Building trustworthy relationships in communities/ organizations
    • Appreciating the value of “otherness”
    • Growth through seasons/cycles of personal, professional and organizational change

After experiencing and exploring these six foundations within the cohort of leaders, you will focus your intentions by creating a plan to more fully practice them in your life and leadership. 

Read more about the Courage & Renewal Six Foundations of Trustworthy Leadership

2.   Over the following six months, you will practice implementing these intentions within the realities of your organizational/community roles. You and your fellow participants will receive support in five-member Peer Circles. Five facilitated Peer Circle teleconferences will provide opportunities for mutual sharing, listening and learning.  Learn more below.

3.  The second four-day residential retreat, April 9-12 2015, will feature another facilitated program, sharing your case stories, gathering the collective wisdom of the group, affirming your learnings, and identifying opportunities to further apply the Courage & Renewal approach in your life and leadership.



  • You find the principles and practices of the Courage & Renewal approach personally meaningful; and
  • You want to explore applying them more fully in your own life and your leadership in organizational and/or community settings.

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. This is an opportunity for you to do personal, reflective, inner work that strengthens your capacities for leading and serving with integrity and courage.


2014-2015 Program Dates - near Austin, Texas

Residential retreat I: October 16-19, 2014   
November-March:  Monthly facilitated Peer Circle teleconferences
Residential retreat II:  April 9-12, 2015

Our retreat venue is the Canyon of the Eagles Resort, situated on a 940-acre nature reserve in the northern region of Texas Hill Country, 1.5 hours west of Austin.

Individuals from education/nonprofits/clergy: $2,000*
Individuals from business/foundations: $2,600*
Other financial aid is available. See below. **
*Reflects the $400 Early Bird discount available through August 1, 2014.

Room & board:  $900 (double occupancy) or $1,200 (single occupancy) based on the actual venue costs. Commuter rate: $600 (meals only):

Air/ground travel: These costs are participants’ responsibility.

A $400 deposit secures your registration. Tuition plus room & board costs are due after acceptance into the program. 

** Financial Aid: We are committed to fielding a diverse cohort of leaders to participate. To help make the program financially accessible, we can: set up payment plans for you and/or your employer; support your application for outside funding; and provide limited financial assistance from our scholarship fund. Please indicate in your online registration if you are in need of financial assistance.
pdf Download the Financial Assistance application


pdf Download the full program description for details.

Save $400 with the Early Bird discount. Available through August 1, 2014.


If you're interested in future programs, please contact Rick Jackson for more information.


 Program Faculty

Cindy JohnsonCindy Johnson was the founding director of Courage & Renewal – North Texas for 13 years and continues to offer courage and renewal experiences locally and nationally to leaders from many sectors. A social worker by training, she has provided executive leadership to nonprofit organizations and community initiatives for more than 30 years. Cindy’s passion is creating space for people to remember who they are, reconnect with their work in the world, and create organizations and communities that are life-giving and create positive change. 


Rick JacksonRick Jackson, MAR, Mdiv., is Co-Founder and Senior Fellow at the Center for Courage & Renewal. He focuses primarily on providing programs for leaders and partnerships with kindred organizations. Rick has been facilitating Circle of Trust® retreats since 1996 for people in diverse backgrounds and professions. He consults and speaks on a range of topics, including sustaining the identity and integrity of teachers and leaders, community leadership development, and strategies to foster long-term social change. A graduate of Yale University Divinity School, Rick is an ordained UCC minister.


The Power of Peer Learning Circles

Rev. Elder Mona West talks about the value of peer learning in the Academy for Leaders. Mona is Director of Formation and Leadership Development for Metropolitan Community Churches in Austin, Texas.

"In addition to the two retreats that are very important to the Academy - the initial retreat and the capstone ending retreat - are the monthly cohort calls. We gather using the wonder of technology in smaller groups of four or five, on monthly calls that last about two hours each. You might think that two hours each is a long time to be on the telephone, and I first thought that when we started these meetings, but it goes very quickly.

"Each person has the opportunity to share from their own leadership journey and to receive support from their peers in that learning circle about a particular leadership situation or incident they want to share in those calls.

"My experience of those calls has been that I always leave those calls with a deep sense of peace. It’s a very spiritual experience for me because I have been supported in that smaller arena. I’ve had the opportunity for people listen more deeply with me about the particular pondering or problem or event that I bring to that call."

See more video stories from alumni below, and watch videos from the 2012 Academy for Leaders.

In Their Own Words

We asked some of our 2013 Academy for Leaders alumni to tell you what they found unique and valuable about the their own words:


Mona West – Broadening my experience of community

Director of Formation and Leadership Development
Metropolitan Community Churches, Austin, TX

“It was really important to me to broaden my own experience of community across a wide array of professions, to get to know people who hold some of these same values and to learn from them.”


Ruth Moore – Reconnecting who you are in the cosmos 

Teacher, Santa Rose Middle School
Santa Rosa, CA

“It’s not about a toolkit for strategies and techniques. It’s all about reconnecting with who you are in the cosmos, which I think is the greatest gift you can bring to any profession.”


Norman Sigler – The work always comes back to me 

Managing Director, Leadership & Recruitment, CLEAR-Consulting.Biz
Seattle, WA

“One of the things I found most compelling about the Academy for Leaders program is that the work always comes back to me…It has been about my inner journey in this process.”


Carolyne Miller Abudullah – All the skills I needed lie within 

Director of Community Assistance, Everyday Democracy
East Hartford, CT

“I was interested in learning more about what was needed for me to become more effective and a much more authentic leader. I’m leaving with the understanding that all the skills I need lie within.”


Karen Gygax Rodriguez – A framework for the soul to speak 

Pastor, Green Lake, WI

“This has been the best community experience I’ve encountered. Ever. It’s amazing to me how in the very brief time with the foundations and the touchstones, we created a framework to open up to one another.”


Jim Kramer – Recognizing the common challenges we face 

President, Kramer Consulting, Inc.
Seattle, WA

“I think it’s worth your time to do this program because it helps you, helps me especially and I think others as leaders, recognize the common challenges we all face and share in that kind of spirit and partnership.”


Christine Kelly-Kleese – Developing trustworthy relationships 

Dean and Department Head, Student Engagement and Transitions
Durham Technical Community College, Durham, NC

“Nothing matters more than relationships. At the Center for Courage & Renewal Academy for Leaders, I’ve experienced that in a real, honest way.”



Mary Jensen – Going deeper into the heart of leadership 

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Bethel Seminary
Saint Paul, MN

“If you’re looking for something that’s beyond techniques of leadership and you really want to go deeper into the heart of leadership, this is a great opportunity to do that.”


Bob Ryshke – Asking big questions about leadership 

Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, The Westminster Schools
Atlanta, GA

“It’s a great experience and one that I think is a good springboard for taking the big questions you have about leadership and trying to come to a place and get some resolution, maybe not answers, but some resolution around some of the questions you hold.”