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Rockwood’s Story

Since being founded in 2000, Rockwood Leadership Institute has grown and changed a lot. Here’s the story of how a small group of environmental activists became a 8,000+ -strong network of changemakers in many sectors, movements, and countries.

2000

Rockwood Leadership Program Created

Along with a dedicated group of environmental activists, Robert Gass and Andre Carothers co-founded Rockwood Leadership Program from a kitchen table in Berkeley, CA.

2003

First Cohort of the Leading From The Inside Out National Yearlong

Rockwood’s first cohort of the Leading From The Inside Out national yearlong fellowship included 20 leaders from environmental and social justice movements.

Since then, the fellowship has grown, averaging 24 fellows per every year, and led to the creation of other nationally-focused yearlong programs, like the Cross-Movement Fellowship.

2005

Rockwood Launches Sector-Based Fellowships

Created in partnership with the Ford Foundation, the Fellowship in Media, Communications and Information Policy was Rockwood’s first sector-based program. Since then, we’ve offered fellowships in the areas of LGBTQ advocacy, human rights and national security reform, death penalty abolition, and many others.

2008

Akaya Windwood Becomes President & CEO

After several years as a trainer and Director of Programs, Akaya is named President & CEO. Under her leadership, the organization changes its name to Rockwood Leadership Institute.

Social Transformation Project Founded

A strong partner to Rockwood, Social Transformation Project was founded by Robert Gass and Jodie Tonita to help leaders explore transformative ideas and practices, and apply them to their organizations and movements.

2015

15 Years & 5,000 Alums

Rockwood’s 15th birthday was also a celebration of a huge milestone: our network grew to over 5,000 alums! Of those 5,000, over 50% are people of color, and over 60% are women.

2016

Akaya And Darlene Nipper Begin Partner-Leading Rockwood

Having joined the staff the previous year as Chief Impact Officer, Darlene and Akaya partner-led Rockwood as CEO and President, respectively.

2018

Akaya Windwood Transitions Out Of Rockwood

After 14 years at Rockwood, including 12 as President, Akaya transitioned out of Rockwood, and Darlene stepped into single leadership as CEO

"My deepest wish is that Rockwood continues to thrive in its remarkable and transformative work supporting leaders committed to a sustained and equitable world. May the dreams of our ancestors continue to support our journeys, and may the hopes of our descendants continue to guide our collective steps."

from Akaya's closing message

2020

Rockwood Launches The Art Of Leadership Online & A New Offering, The Art Of Navigating Change

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and a world in need of interconnected, purposeful leaders, Rockwood developed a virtual version of the Art of Leadership and developed a brand-new curriculum, the Art of Navigating Change, which allows leaders to explore a real problem they’re facing in their life or work in a supportive, caring community of their peers.

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Art of Leadership

The 2023 Training Schedule Is Here!

If you are feeling called to transform your leadership in 2023, check out the schedule and apply: