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Courage to Lead for Young Leaders and Activists

Courage to Lead for Young Leaders & Activists
A Courage & Renewal® Retreat

Spring 2018 Retreat:
March 15-17, 2018 in Reisterstown, MD



Pause, Unplug and Explore Questions That Matter to You.

Are you passionate about your work or cause, but trying to sustain yourself in the midst of heavy demands and the urgency you feel about making a difference? This retreat is a rare opportunity for renewal, deeper connection with kindred spirits and committed peers, and the chance to engage questions of importance to you.

Courage & Renewal retreats help you become a more self-aware, wholehearted leader. You’ll experience the time and space to renew, reflect, and to:

  • Pause, be still, and disconnect from technology and the pace of a leader’s life.
  • Name the “leadership moment” you’re currently in and investigate, talk through, and honor both struggles and successes.
  • Witness and be witnessed, listen and be listened to – without performance evaluation, statusizing, or ego.
  • Strengthen your capacity to ask open-ended questions, hold tensions, and rejoin soul and role.

It is also an intergenerational gift to learn directly from (and give your insights to) the founders of Courage & Renewal, Parker Palmer and Marcy Jackson, along with other seasoned facilitators. In the words of a recent participant, “To empower young people to mine their own wisdom rather than searching the wisdom of others is a profound contribution to the field of leadership development. And yet! Yet the process itself is shrouded in the wisdom of our elders.”


A Past Participant Reflects:
“As a young, incredibly overworked and exhausted individual working for social change, it often becomes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel … [This retreat] not only allowed me to recognize that this light was already inside me, but helped me fall in love with my work again and look forward to decades more of love and service that I have to give to my movement.”

– Vanessa Valenti, Co-Founder of, Principal in Valenti Martin Media

At the retreat, you and a group of about thirty other young leaders and activists (roughly ages 25-40) will explore the intersection of our inner lives and our leadership in the world. Together, we’ll engage in large- and small-group dialogues focused on evocative texts and questions, experience silence, solitude and journaling for reflection, and tell stories from our own lives and work.

This retreat is modeled on the Circle of Trust® approach developed by Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal. You can learn more about “Circles of Trust” at or in Parker Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life.

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Calendarorange200x200SPRING 2018 PROGRAM DETAILS

Dates: March 15-17, 2018
Venue: Pearlstone Retreat Center
Tuition: Total cost for the program is $400, which includes room and board.
Travel: Participants are responsible for their own travel costs.

Apply Now! 
Applications are due January 1, 2018. Notifications will be sent February 1.



Brian Braganza is a Courage & Renewal & Facilitator and experiential educator specializing in community resiliency, sustainability education, youth engagement and systems change. He has a long history with the HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development and supports a wide diversity of youth and young adults to have meaningful roles and voices in their communities. Brian delivers experiential programs for men and boys, which builds their abilities to connect authentically and live into their wholeness. From 2012-2015 he co-designed and delivered Dalhousie University’s Sustainability Leadership Certificate Program, increasing participant’s capacity to take effective social and environmental action. Brian’s own personal transformations and continual desire to uncover his best self led him to the work of Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal. He lives in a straw-bale home he built on an old farm near Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Brian is also a wilderness traveller, poet and songwriter and plays regularly with the band MakeShift.

Marcia Lee aspires to create a more just and compassionate world through deep reflection and conscious actions. In addition to being a Courage and Renewal facilitator, Marcia leads peacemaking circles and facilitates trainings in restorative justice. She is the director of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph. She works with a group of women of color healers. Marcia is a part of an intentional community in Detroit and they aim to live out the intersection of their spirituality and social justice. She is grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the Courage and Renewal family and hopes to meet you one day!
*Currently in the Facilitator Preparation Program

Kathryn McElveen, Program Director for Courage to Lead for Young Leaders & Activists, is a professional leadership coach (PCC) and Courage & Renewal facilitator whose work helps emerging and established leaders increase capacities for personal, organizational, and cultural transformation. She thrives in creating spaces where differences among people are valued and hearts and minds can expand to integrate new awareness. As a community activist, she works towards systemic reform in racial and gender equity, interfaith collaboration, and building healthy communities. Kathryn is an ordained clergyperson in the United Methodist Church, where she has served as a congregational pastor and leadership formation consultant, and is the co-author of ‘Faith Coaching: A Conversational Approach to Helping Others Move Forward in Faith’ (2008) and ‘The Faith Coaching Toolkit’ (2009). Kathryn lives in Travelers Rest, South Carolina with her husband, Rimes, and their four young children. Together they enjoy exploring rivers and trails, growing food, learning new things, and adding love and light to the world.

Michael Williams is the Director of Sales for a global technology company by day, and a serial entrepreneur by night. He founded Goodwin Investment Advisory and Williams and Jansen Investments, which led him to invest in the launch of High Road Craft Ice Cream, and previously served as the Executive Director of Leadercast, the largest leadership development event in the world. With the realization that many of the highlights of his corporate and entrepreneurial endeavors involved working with others to grow personally and professionally, he is committed his life to helping people, ideas, and experiences come alive. He is a teacher and facilitator at The Arbinger Institute, The Transformative Action Institute and The Center for Courage and Renewal, and has served as a part-time professor at Watson University, Georgia State University and guest lecturers at Berry College and Clayton State University teaching Social Entrepreneurship, Non-profit Management, Advanced Entrepreneurship, and Professional Sales. In 2010, Berry College awarded Michael the Most Outstanding Young Alumni Award and he was awarded the Hosea Williams Award for Community Activism.
*Currently in the Facilitator Preparation Program


"quote-L "quote-RIf we are willing to embrace the challenge of becoming whole … we cannot embrace that challenge all alone, at least not for long; we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, if we are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life.

Parker J. Palmer, Author, Activist and Center Founder

Parker J. Palmer – What is an Undivided Life?


  • “This gave me the space to slow down, reflect, and reconnect with my motivations in order to better sustain my spirit over the long haul.”
  • “This is the only retreat I’ve attended where I wasn’t constantly critiquing the process and was able to leave behind my cynicism.”
  • “We talked about the deep stuff of life: how to find the courage to rise up within ourselves and inhabit our own most beautiful and authentic life.”
  • “Intense, thoughtful, emotional. It was great to connect with peers who are going through similar life-changes and exploring similar life-questions about work, relationships, wellness, and the challenge of balancing it all.”
  • “This experience felt “egoless” in a good way; didn’t ask us to present our credentials.”
  • “An amazing group of people on the social-change spectrum coming together in an intimate setting to talk about our challenges, not tactically but emotionally.”
  • “One of the things they do well is to ask good questions. Every time we would break out with prompts, I thought “these are such beautiful questions” – questions that you can always return to, eternal, essential questions.”
  • “Lots of progressive organizations don’t value introspection but they really need it.”
  • “I feel the experience was totally honest – the desire to cultivate resources within us without a pre-determined outcome. I have been to many “leadership cultivating” type events… Those felt more like preparing to preserve self for benefit of institution. This was open-ended and I was trusted to live out what I learned in a multiple of ways.”
  • “I’ve never experienced anything like that. It really felt like a sacred place, and space was created. I enjoyed how the structure & positioning of the retreat pulled us into our souls without pulling us out of the world (which happens on some retreats). I still felt deeply connected to ‘worldly’ issues.”
  • “I have been at retreats (professional) where it is said that we have all the wisdom we need in the room. The Clearness Committee and so much of the work showed to me that the creators really believe that! We have the wisdom that we need. I left with a stronger belief and trust that my inner teacher is the most trustworthy guide for my life – as it is for others.”
  • “…it was exactly what I needed and I didn’t even realize it. So many times I have gone to retreats and for whatever reason I feel pressure to be someone different and pressure to reach a certain goal. Here there was a foundation of safety & wonder that helped me see possibilities that I hadn’t been able to before.”
  • Over those brief few days in Georgia, I felt the weight of overwhelm and burnout I had been carrying for months gently dissolve, and in its place, new seeds of energy and inspiration began to germinate. The retreat truly gave me the courage and renewal I needed to step into the next level of leadership, and continue on my path of doing the work that my soul and the world are asking me to do.”



Contact Kathryn McElveen,
or call the Center at (206) 466-2055

We hope you’ll join us!