President's Message

Lately I’ve been having moments of deep existential vertigo. Everything seems off-kilter. Progressive mayors dismantling Occupy encampments. Students rioting in support of a football coach who downplayed years of child sex abuse allegations by one of his trusted staff. Presidential candidates “forgetting” big settlements connected to sexual harassment claims. Earthquakes in Turkey. Earthquakes in Oklahoma. Reality TV lauding a family with 20 biological offspring. 11/11/11. Asteroids almost colliding with earth. Lions, tigers, bears. Oh my!

My daily newspaper reads like the “Weekly World News” these days. The voice of my long-dead grandma rises up through the ages to ask “What in God’s name are you all up to in there?” Frankly, often I have no idea. What are we up to these days? Sometimes it seems that I can’t count on anything.

And then I feel the joy at all the unexpected opportunities that disruption can present. I notice my heart beating. I hear the laughter of my staff. The moon is full tonight. The waves of the bay lap against the shore. A colleague dies. A friend is pregnant. I recall the sound of my partner Kim, breathing as she slept beside me last night.

Think back a year ago – who could have predicted the Arab Spring? Students and activists took to the streets in Paris, Santiago and Barcelona. Then in New York, and in thousands of cities and towns across the country and world. Did we plan for this? Probably not. Are we swimming with grace in this new, full river? I hope so.

In a time of constantly shifting sands, good leadership requires that we become adept at dancing. We will need to become increasingly skilled in ambiguity and comfortable with chaos. We can no longer depend on the structures supporting the decaying, archaic systems that are swiftly crumbling before our eyes. We’ve never been here before.

This is really good news.

How amazing is it that we get to lead in times like these? We have the honor and obligation to shepherd in a new and emerging age. How delightful is that?

We’ll need new tools, new ways of being and new paths. We’ll need to take unprecedented leaps of faith. I imagine that many around us will feel unsettled – we’ll probably be pretty unsettled ourselves. We’ll need to count on more than our egos, our shiny plans and our outdated traditions. Here’s to artful spontaneity, willingness to be present with what is emerging, and the ability to flex!

Part of our jobs as 21st century leaders is to hold steady in trust that we’ll collectively get through this time. That we won’t be the same when this transformation is complete. And that is as it should be.

So I’ve decided to count on the cycles of the moon, birth and death, Kim’s breathing, sweet laughter and the tides to get me through.

Oh yes – and I will count on your partnership.

What will you count on?

From my heart to yours,

November 2011


Rockwood Launches Fellowship for Death Penalty Abolition Leaders

U.S. Death Penalty Abolition Leaders are advancing a powerful movement for human rights in the U.S. and around the globe. With the support of the Open Society Foundation’s Criminal Justice Fund and Atlantic Philanthropies, Rockwood is launching the Fellowship for Death Penalty Abolition Leaders to provide leadership and collaboration training to leaders within this important sector.

Applications will open at the end of November. To request an application please email


Call for Nominations: Art of Leadership for Philanthropic Leaders

Rockwood is accepting nominations for our Art of Leadership for Philanthropic Leaders. Please use our online form to nominate exceptional foundation executives, board members, executive directors, program officers, donors, corporate sponsors, and other leaders you know who leverage resources for positive social change. Surina Khan at the Ford Foundation shared about her experience of the workshop:

“I’m a better communicator, I have clarity about goals and process, I’m better able to support my colleagues, and I’m more fulfilled on a daily basis in carrying out my work…I’m actually more joyful as a result of Rockwood–I’ve never been able to say that about a leadership training program!”


How Accountability and Information Can Create a Brighter Future

Rockwood leaders are making headlines. In a New York Times opinion editorial, Rockwood Human Rights and National Security Reform Fellow Elizabeth (Liza) Goitein warns about the dangers of America's unnecessary secrets. National Yearlong Leading from the Inside Out alum Annie Leonard recently released her latest movie "The Story of Broke: Why There's Still Plenty of Money to Build a Better Future."


Rockwood Welcomes Two Great Additions to Our Team

While Tyson Casey and TC Duong have been with us for a few months, we wanted to officially introduce them. Tyson oversees Rockwood’s Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellowship, and supports other fellowship programs. TC manages Rockwood's LGBTQ Advocacy Fellowship, the Fellowship for a New California, and the Fellowship for Upper Midwest Leaders.


Upcoming Trainings

Realize a vision of leadership for yourself and your organization.


Keep in Touch

We’d love to hear what you’re up to.