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Courage to Lead for Young Leaders and Activists

Courage to Lead for Young Leaders & Activists
A Courage & Renewal® Retreat with Parker J. Palmer

Fall 2017 Retreat:
October 12-14, 2017 in Los Altos, CA

The application deadline has passed. Stay tuned for news of our spring 2018 retreat!


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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Calendarorange200x200FALL 2017 PROGRAM DETAILS

Dates: October 12-14, 2017
Venue: El Retiro San Iñigo: The Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos
Tuition: Total cost for the program is $400, which includes room and board.
Travel: Participants are responsible for their own travel costs.

Register here! 
Applications are due July 7, 2017. Notifications will be sent August 1.

Click to register now


Alex Dorsey is a catalyst for inspired self-awareness and belonging. She is a consultant, trainer and Courage & Renewal Facilitator-in-preparation based in Los Angeles, CA. Alex believes the strength of our communities lies in the collective impact of each individual being seen, heard, valued and encouraged to daily live into the mystery of their potential. Alex partners with individuals and organizations to identify and facilitate opportunities to create more dynamic communities and shares her rich experience in social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, community revitalization and public service as a guest lecturer at USC.

MarcyJacksonMarcy Jackson, MSW, MPH, is co-founder and Senior Fellow for the Center for Courage & Renewal. She served as Co-Director of the Center for 13 years and Director of the Facilitator Preparation Program for 16 years. Her current responsibilities include helping to prepare and mentor new Courage & Renewal facilitators in North America and Australasia, leading retreats for young leaders and activists as well as a variety of other groups, and contributing to the dissemination of ideas and writing related to the Circle of Trust® approach and its manifestations. She has been facilitating Courage & Renewal retreats since 1996 with people from a variety of backgrounds and professions. Previously, Marcy worked extensively with individuals, groups, and families as a child and family therapist, grief counselor and group facilitator.

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. Parker’s work spans a wide range of institutions: colleges and universities, public schools, religious communities and other nonprofit 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 Healing the Heart of Democracy. His work has been recognized with several national awards and ten honorary doctorates. In 2011, Parker was named an Utne Reader Visionary, one of “25 people who are changing your world.”

Rona Zollinger, Ph.D., is an Integrative Educator and New Leaf Collaborative Co-Founder, and Courage & Renewal Facilitator. For 20 years, she has integrated transformative learning, place-based education, career exploration and outdoor play into the lives of young people as a high school teacher, mentor, industry partnership developer, program director, and agent of change. Alongside her daily work in public education, Zollinger is also the co-founder of New Leaf Collaborative (a non-profit) where she directs the Empowering Educators program— designed for educators who work with at-risk students who fall within the gaps of our schools and communities. Zollinger also works closely with the Center for Courage and Renewal building adult relational trust in schools through Courage to Teach® retreats and the facilitation of Leading Together® programs.


"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 Marcy Jackson,
or call the Center at (206) 466-2055

We hope you’ll join us!