From April to October 2017, I attended a session of The Academy of Leaders, led by Laura Duncan from The Seed House in Wichita, Kansas and Valerie Brown, a certified facilitator from The Center for Courage and Renewal.  The training is designed to last 6 months, with a three-day retreat in April, 6 months of monthly Peer Learning Meetings, and a final retreat in October. This was an eye-opening experience for me. It gave me a new definition of what it means to have a real connection to who you are as a leader. The Academy is designed for deep listening, both of what you share and what others share within confidentiality circles. It includes time for silence and reflection. Listening is slow and gentle, with pauses between questions and answers.

The foundation of the retreat is “no fixing, no saving, no advising, and no correcting”. It models what we believe at Strong Women Action Network: that we are whole, we just need to go deep, be in a safe environment, make real connections and listen to ourselves. We will then get to know who we really are and to be true to ourselves. We cannot do this alone, we need to be surrounded by a community in order to have honest discussions and engage in open-ended questions from the perspective of curiosity, not judgment. The retreat was transformational and highlighted for me how continued learning is key for leadership development and how important community and connection are to achieving our goals. I learned how to create circles of support that will help women listen to themselves and discover the answers to the struggles they are facing in a nurturing and supportive way.


Making Contact by Virginia Satir

I believe

the greatest gift

I can conceive of having

from anyone


to be seen by them,

heard by them,

to be understood


touched by them.

The greatest gift

I can give


to see, hear, understand

and to touch

another person.

When this is done

I feel

contact has been made.

Connection is a guiding principle of Strong Women Action Network. Our purpose is to help each other so we can increase our network and get the support we need to achieve positions of power and gender and racial justice.  Our Group Coaching Sessions are designed to start this process by focusing on you and how to more deeply connect with other women who are asking the same questions you are. The answers to the questions you are facing today are all inside of you. Those answers are sometimes difficult and hard to reach. We will connect you with a community of women for the purpose of supporting each other.