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Canceled – 2020 Sustainability Professionals Retreat: Accelerating your Impact

June 28, 2020 @ 2:00 pm - July 1, 2020 @ 2:00 pm EDT


In order to protect the health and safety of participants and the general public, and in recognition that restrictions on travel and meetings may well still be in place for when it was to take place, we have decided to cancel this year’s retreat. We expect to hold the event in some form next year. In the meantime, please check out the webinars we are offering to support the continued professional development of the AASHE community. 

Professionals Retreat

The 2020 Sustainability Professionals Retreat will help you accelerate your ability to effectively and courageously engage your campus community around the unfolding climate crisis and its implications for higher education and society.

Accelerate Your Impact – Experience and learn tools to maximize the effectiveness of your sustainability leadership work. Bring your most difficult challenges and get targeted support through small group coaching, mapping processes and expert faculty to accelerate your progress and success.

Unleash Collective Intelligence – Advance your capacities in systems thinking, organizational design, leading change, cultivating social intelligence, and relationship-building skills to unleash the collective intelligence of your organization. 

Engage in Renewal – Like most sustainability leaders, you are probably being stretched to your limits, and investing in your own growth and self-care may seem a low priority. However, to be most effective as leaders and change agents in our communities, we must invest in our own growth and renewal, building our internal capacity to live from the paradigms that support the future we want and creating the invitation for others to do the same. Participants in this workshop will engage in practices for growth, self-care and well-being and learn practices for resilience that we can share with our teams and communities. 

Deepen your Network – Build relationships for ongoing support and advice. Grow your professional network and expand your access to peer to peer learning.

Key Details

Retreat Dates: The retreat will last 3 full days from June 28-July 1, 2020. The program starts at 2 p.m. on the 28 and will end at 2 p.m. on July 1st. All participants are asked to be present for the entire duration of the event.
Location: The retreat will take place at the beautiful Pendle Hill Retreat Center near Philadelphia, PA.
Registration Fee: $595 (AASHE members), $695 (AASHE non-members) – Includes programming and meals
Lodging: Most attendees will stay at Pendle Hill, where the standard rate is $100 per night for a single room with shared bathroom. Double rooms available for those who bring partners for increased fee. Attendees can also choose to stay at the nearby Inn at Swarthmore (prices vary, and you will need to find your own breakfast and transportation to Pendle Hill).
Post-Retreat Hike: An optional hike through Crum Woods, Swarthmore College Arboretum tour, and dinner (not included in registration) will take place the afternoon of July 1 from 2-7 p.m.

Application & Registration Process

  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until May 1, 2020, or until space is filled; early application is recommended.
  • Once your application is approved you will be provided with a request for payment.
  • Payment will be accepted in the form of Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover cards or checks.
  • Payment is required within 10 business days after being accepted to secure your seat.

Who Attends?

This retreat is designed for systems change and sustainability practitioners from higher education, local government, business and not for profit organizations wanting to accelerate impact, lead with purpose, renew focus and advance critical change-leadership skills. Participants are immersed with 30-40 other change leaders plus a dedicated content delivery team. Past participants have included sustainability professionals, faculty who play/would like to play a leading role in the institution’s sustainability efforts, government and business representatives.

Why attend?

Sustainability leadership is one of the fastest moving leadership fields in the 21st century. Professional development specific to sustainability leadership is a must for any individual and organization that is serious about making an impact. Given the current state of the world, this year’s retreat will focus on tools and techniques to directly address the climate crisis and the role of our institutions in responding to the urgency of our times.

When it comes to your professional development, the 2020 AASHE Sustainability Professional Retreat fills a crucial role in providing tailored, deep-dive, small group professional development and impact acceleration. Obtaining support to attend is easier when you can explain the benefits of attending for both you as an individual and your wider organization/community.

To help justify your attendance and gain funding approval, we recommend the following:

  • Articulate the value proposition – Obtaining support to attend is easier when you can explain the benefits of attending for both you as an individual and your wider organization/community. Focus on the leadership development and impact areas that are most relevant for your organization and for you personally. Pendle Hill AASHE staff holding hands
  • Formalize your request in writing – To make things as easy as possible, we have created a template request for approval to attend that you are welcome to download and use.
  • Prepare a budget for the cost of attending – Carefully map out all of the likely expenses for attending and consider options for cutting costs such as booking flights early. You will find a starter budget in the draft letter.
  • Be accessible – Demonstrate to your colleagues that you are reachable during your time away from the office if anything urgent arises.
  • Schedule a debriefing – An effective re-entry debrief can demonstrate the value in attending and plant the seeds for attendance at future offerings so be sure to set up a meeting to share what you learned. Much of our retreat content has been open-sourced by our content providers to enable attendees to bring what they learn home.

Program Design

The program will be comprised of the following elements:

  • Presentations and facilitated discussions ~20%
    Our delivery team has deep experience in senior leadership engagement, change leadership, purpose-driven leadership, sustainability strategic planning, green buildings, integrating justice and equity, greenhouse gas reduction, waste reduction, stakeholder engagement and much more.
  • Self-care, renewal, and personal development ~20%
    Guided practices and immersive experiences designed for growth, healing, and to build your internal capacity for leadership and strength, and instruction for how to offer these tools to your community.
  • Group activities to engage with peers in shared learning ~20%
    Interactive, generative and dynamic activities, processes and techniques for increasing group intelligence, fostering higher levels of emotional & social intelligence.

  • Participant-driven exchanges (short talks, panels & group sessions) ~20%
    Deep discussions and valuable exchanges with your peers to learn about a wide range of emerging projects, practices, processes and approaches.
  • Networking: breaks, meals, end-of-day gatherings, reception event, etc. ~20%
    Build lasting support systems through meaningful connections with other sustainability leaders. 

Facilitators and Program Designers

Aurora Winslade, Director of Sustainability, Swarthmore College
Aurora WinsladeAurora has nearly twenty years of experience in higher education and private sector sustainability and energy efficiency work. She is committed to supporting professional development for sustainability leaders, bringing a focus on using intentional group process design and facilitation tools to engage people in systems transformation efforts. She co-created AASHE’s first sustainability officers retreat in 2011 and has led statewide and national workshops in California, Hawaii, and Taiwan. Aurora has served as the Director of Sustainability for Swarthmore College since 2015, where she has co-led the development of the Roadmap to Zero: Energy Master Plan, co-founded and teaches in the President’s Sustainability Research Fellowship program, and strives to ground the Office of Sustainability’s work in understanding the intersections of equity, justice, and ecological sustainability. She is an adjunct faculty member at Bard College’s Sustainable MBA program, where she teaches Leading Change in Organizations. Aurora previously founded new sustainability programs at the University of California Santa Cruz and the University of Hawaii. She also worked for Leidos Engineering as the Market Transformation Manager for Hawaii Energy, the state’s energy efficiency program and worked with MA’O Organic Farms and the University of Hawaii West Oʻahu to launch a B.A. program in Sustainable Community Food Systems. 

Sandy Wiggins, Principal, Consilience LLC
Sandy is Principal of Consilience LLC, a national consultancy with a mission to foster environmentally, socially and economically sustainable communities. He was a pioneer and a central figure in the global green building movement, and his skilled facilitation has given birth to sustainability plans for municipalities and institutions, institutional impact investment plans, regional public policy initiatives and sustainable local economic development plans. Sandy also serves as Chief Learning Officer for Future Tide Partners, with a mission to equip individuals and institutions to shift culture, policy and capital in a rapidly changing world of work towards an inclusive, flourishing future economy. Sandy was Chair of BALLE (bealocalist.org) through a decade of transformation and growth. He is a Past Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (usgbc.org), Founding Chair of the Green Business Certification Institute (gbci.org) and a co-author of LEED for Neighborhood Development. Read more about Sandy’s experience with other organizations.

Matthew Kamakani Lynch, System Sustainability Director, University of Hawaiʻi
Matt LynchMatt is the founding Director of Sustainability Initiatives for the ten campuses of the University of Hawaiʻi, which include 7 community colleges, two regional 4-year institutions an land, sea and space grant R-1 campus.  He currently serves as teaching faculty on Harvard’s Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership program.

After surviving a 10-year career in mortgage banking & real estate finance, Matt has worked to replenish his karmic bank accounts by participating in a broad range of community-based sustainable development projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

Matt’s core work is focused upon 1) creating conditions to catalyze institutional transformation; 2) developing new business models which restore ecological systems and planetary life support systems that our existing business models have so badly damaged; and 3) creating authentic human connections and beauty in the face of accelerating environmental degradation, technological advances and social unrest. 

FAQ for accepted participants

How will I get there?

Pendle Hill’s wooded campus is an approximately 20 minutes drive away from the Philadelphia airport and fewer than ten minutes away from Swarthmore College. View directions to the campus. 

Do I need to rent a car?

It is not necessary to rent a car. The Swarthmore Train Station is adjacent to Swarthmore College and the Inn at Swarthmore. It is a short cab or carshare ride away from Pendle Hill. Both taxis and rideshare services are available for rides to/from the airport, it is approximately 20 min by car to Pendle Hill. If you choose to stay at the Inn at Swarthmore, rather than the Retreat Center, you may want to consider renting a car, but taxis and rideshare services are readily available in the Swarthmore area, so it would still not be necessary.

Where do I stay?

We have reserved Pendle Hill’s Brinton House for all of our meetings. Brinton House can sleep ~20 people in single rooms. We also reserved additional rooms on-campus. All participants are encouraged to use this lodging option. You will be able to pay for lodging at the same time you register for the event.

Guest rooms are furnished with a bed, desk, chair, and lamp. Most of the guest rooms share a bath with one or two other rooms. Bathrooms are family-style, not dormitory-style, and are a few steps from your bedroom door. Some rooms include a washbasin. Pendle Hill supplies sheets, pillow, pillowcase, bedspread, blankets, towel and a washcloth. Liquid hand and body soap are available in bathrooms. See more here

Participants may also choose to stay at the nearby Inn at Swarthmore (prices vary). Rooms include two double or one king bed, coffee makers, wifi, televisions, private bathrooms, and access to a 24-hr fitness center. Staying at the Inn does require participants to find their own way to/from Pendle Hill each day.

What meals are included for participants?

The following meals are included in the registration rate: dinner on June 28, lunch and dinner on June 29, lunch and dinner on June 30 and lunch on July 1 (optional). All participants (including local attendees) are expected to eat these meals with the group. Attendees staying at Pendle Hill also receive breakfast on June 29 – July 1. If you are commuting to Pendle Hill, please have breakfast on your own.

If I’ve attended a sustainability professionals retreat or a pre-conference workshop at AASHE on this content in the past will I get something new out of this one?

Yes, definitely. This retreat meets you where you are and supports you to go deeper into your own professional and personal development. There will be new content, as well as more opportunities to learn from your fellow participants.

Testimonials from past participants

“I loved addressing the deeper levels of our work. While also providing options for other professionals to take different content. I liked seeing others (especially our older white men) being challenged to step into a more feminine, listening role.”

“I loved the deep well of knowledge and experience that the facilitators brought to the discussion. Your willingness to share lessons from your experiences really added a lot of depth to the retreat for me. “

“This retreat honestly turned me around from the brink of quitting and burning out to a feeling of renewed purpose, energy, excitement, and solidarity.  I’m committed to making this an annual tradition for myself to attend. The benefits cannot be overstated.”

“I experienced significant personal and professional growth. Fun and emotional, great ways to come to terms with our climate situation.”

“Not what I was expecting (not really sure what I was expecting) but, loved it! This was actually the best thing for me at this time. Thanks!”

Any questions about the workshop?
Please contact Daita Serghi, education@aashe.org


June 28, 2020 @ 2:00 pm EDT
July 1, 2020 @ 2:00 pm EDT
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Pendle Hill
338 Plush Mill Road
Wallingford, PA 19086 United States
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