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Courage to Lead

  • Kellogg Biological Station 3700 East Gull Lake Drive Hickory Corners, MI, 49060 United States (map)
The question we most commonly ask is the ‘what’ question - what ideas form the essence of leadership? When the conversation goes a bit deeper, we ask the ‘how’ question - what methods and techniques are required to lead well? Occasionally, when it goes deeper still we ask the ‘why’ question - for what purpose or to what ends do we pursue leadership? But seldom, if ever, do we ask the ‘who’ question - who is the self that leads? How does the quality of my selfhood form or deform the way I relate to my colleagues, my work, my world? How can institutions sustain and deepen the selfhood from which good leadership comes?
— Dr. Parker J. Paker, in The Courage to Teach

We live in times where vitriolic exchanges between people, distrust, isolation, fear, and burnout are taking their toll on and perhaps, disillusioning, the human spirit. As leaders, it is vital to renew our spirits and reflect on the purpose and passion underlying our work.

Courage to Lead focuses on:

  • Renewing heart, mind, and spirit as leaders explore the inner landscape of their lives.

  • Discovering connections between the inner dimension of the leader’s life and identifying ways in which these connections empower the leader to lead with integrity at home, work, and in the world.

  • Acknowledging and honoring a leader’s gifts, strengths, and limits which equips her/him to lead with greater authenticity and courage

  • Welcoming all people in the fullness of their lives to co-create a diverse, compassionate community dedicated to sharing and holding each leader’s story.

  • Co-creating safe, confidential spaces for learning and growing together, in solitude and community.

  • Inviting leaders to process personal and professional experiences. This offers the leader insight into who she/he is, thereby increasing capacity for self-awareness, self-managment, deep listening, living and leading from core values, and building trustworthy relationships.

Courage to Lead is a four retreat series for engaged leaders. Over 12 months, leaders will gather for four 3-day residential retreats. These retreats utilize the Circle of Trust approach developed by Dr. Parker J. Palmer and colleagues. They provide the leader an opportunity for solitary reflection, and also times for deep listening and sharing in small and large group settings. The Clearness Committee, a Quaker process of personal discernment through community, is the capstone of each retreat.

Courage to Lead retreats are "working retreats" but, are unlike the working retreat usually provided for us! Courage to Lead retreats offer space for the leader to do her/his own personal "inner work" to promote the union of soul and role in life. Many of life's larger questions are personal and private, but they can be dealt with safely and comfortably in a community of like-minded individuals (Parker J. Palmer) in Courage to Lead retreats. This personal and communal work can be critical to our growth as leaders in varied professions and to the future of our life together as citizens of the world. We hope you'll join us!


The Conference Center at Kellogg Biological Station outside Kalamazoo, Michigan. Participants will enjoy a private room with bath. 


November 8-10, 2018 | February 7-9, 2019 | April 11-13, 2019 | September 19-21, 2019

All retreats begin @ 4:30 pm and conclude @ noon. Participation at all four retreats is expected. Retreat series is limited to 22 participants.


Series cost $1980. Deposit of $300 due at time of registration. Additional $420 per retreat due 10 days before retreat.


Caren Dybek and Sarah Hescheles


  • Caren |

  • Sarah |

Centerpiece from the Winter Courage to Lead 2017-2018 retreat series.

Centerpiece from the Winter Courage to Lead 2017-2018 retreat series.

Earlier Event: November 8
Courage to Lead
Later Event: March 15
Courage to Lead