A Cohort Leadership Experience: Reflections on LMR2019 First Weekend

No. 1: September Retreat Weekend

You cannot live in the Richmond region without awareness of LMR. Their Leadership Quest program is entering its 39th year of cohort leadership development. I was excited to join this year’s class and kick off our experience this past weekend. To fully live into the experience I have made three commitments:

  1. Unplugging - I left my phone in my purse and didn’t do work during our 3 day retreat. I let family know I would be checking in after dinner each night. This was an unusual behavior on my part as being a relationship oriented small business owner means I try to be accessible to clients.

  2. Journaling - With a tiny bit of ADD I discovered a few years ago that in order to really dig into a full day experience I had to doodle and journal my way through it. The new iPad and pencil really opens up this experience. This way I could capture tools, techniques, and my observations. Just a warning - I can’t really draw!

  3. A Blog Series - I wanted to capture my journey in a way I can revisit. I am sensitive to not “give away” any of the magic of the cohort experience for anyone interested in being part of the 2020 class.

Humbling Moment

At one point during the retreat we separated into two groups - for and against the death penalty. It was an exercise designed to get us thinking about the difference between dialogue and debate. I was surprised to observe different people on each side - people that I had made assumptions about based on their job or a conversation we had engaged in earlier in the day. It was a reminder that I walk into the space with my own biases.

Insights/New Facts

In 2017, out of 46 schools, 24 Richmond schools had less than 20 white students.

In reviewing the regional data presented by Matthew Freeman of Dialectix Consulting I was surprised by very few items given our role in data collection and synthesis through strategic planning for over 50 organizations a year. The one data point that really jumped out was the number of schools in Richmond with 20 or fewer white students. In 2017, out of 46 schools, 24 have less than 20 white students. I think it was less surprising than sobering. It certainly underscores our work in the city specifically to desegregate our schools a legal decision that took place 64 years ago.


It was exciting to know 10 or so people in the room of 70. While I loved spending time with them I also enjoyed meeting a few people and digging below the surface including time spent with:

Jess Powers - ACLU of Virginia, Josh Fararr - Town of Ashland, Christopher Rashad Green - VCU, John Richardson-Lauve - ChildSavers.

Parting thought Session No.1


I left with one amazing piece of wisdom from Jonathan Zur of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. When engaging in these experiences always remember to ask yourself:

Does it need to be said?
Does it need to be said right now?
Does it need to be said by me?