2022 Systems LEadership retreat

Applications are currently closed.

Leading food systems change can be extraordinarily exciting and fulfilling – and at the same time, incredibly complex, frustrating, and time-consuming. It takes dedication, persistence, and a holistic set of skills and tools to deeply understand the forces at play while fostering and facilitating the collective leadership needed to shift them. Having the space to explore new ways of thinking while tapping into the collective wisdom, strength, and knowledge of this community has the power to rejuvenate, inspire, and create a lasting support network.

The FSLN’s Food Systems Leadership Retreats provide FSLN members with the time and space to learn, practice, and refine the tools of systems leadership, reflect upon their personal and professional leadership journeys, and build relationships of solidarity with their peers. We prioritize applications from people who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color. These retreats are offered free of charge.

What has most changed about my understanding of systems leadership since this retreat is that I always knew it would take broad based collaboration to make change, but I didn’t really see any movement big enough to actually have the potential to accomplish that change. This retreat is the first time I’ve seen sparks of that potential.
– New Orleans Food Systems Leadership Retreat Participant (2018)

We are excited and honored to be joined by FSLN members  Rachael Reichenbach (Resist Reimagine), Lindsey Lunsford (Tuskegee University) and Natilee McGruder (Growing Green, LLC), who will lead the design and facilitation of the virtual 2022 Systems Leadership Retreat from Tuesday, Sept. 20 – Friday, Sept. 24, 2022.

  • High five for an insightful and transformative few days together during the 2018 Kansas City Leadership Retreat!

About the 2022 Systems Leadership Retreat

The FSLN has been hosting Systems Leadership Retreats since 2017, with each Retreat iterating and evolving based on participant feedback, member needs, and the current context we are living in. In 2021, Retreat facilitators Joseph McIntyre, Rachael Reichenbach, and Lindsey Lunsford took a critical eye to the systems leadership framework and retreat curriculum to ensure an analysis of how racism, racial equity, and power influence the systems we are seeking to change, and worked hard to fully embed anti-racism and racial equity into the curriculum’s foundation. 

This year we are going deeper and further. 

Guided by Grace Lee Boggs’ mantra that you must “transform yourself to transform the world,” this year’s facilitators Rachael Reichenbach, Lindsey Lunsford, and Natilee McGruder will take Retreat participants through a curriculum that explores new perspectives and practices, offers space for reflection and connection, and makes explicit the fundamental relationship between justice, equity, and systems leadership. 

Together, we will:

  • Develop meaningful relationships and strengthen connections between each other and the network.
  • Build awareness of, practice, and reflect on the five capacities of systems leadership: leading from a liberatory consciousness; cultivating inner understanding and resilience; working with complexity; supporting others to make change; shifting from problem solving to creating a positive future.
  • Reflect on our personal and collective systems leadership journeys and identify areas of growth.
  • Deepen our understanding of the relationship between equity, justice, and systems leadership.

We will explore questions like:

  • How might we develop a liberatory consciousness that enhances our efforts to change systems characterized by oppression? 
  • How do we take care of ourselves, and how do we take responsibility for ourselves? How do our lived experiences and past traumas show up in our leadership? 
  • How do we work together and relate to each other in ways that disrupt white supremacist culture and thought patterns (our own and those of others)?
  • How do we collaborate to co-liberate? How do we center relationships in our work and what tools can we use to effectively accelerate change? 
  • What is the future that we actually want – that will liberate us all – and how might we articulate and achieve it?

Apply here!

Virtual Retreat Schedule

  • Tuesday, September 20 – Friday, September 23, 2022
  • The retreat includes a total of 7 session over four days.
  • Tuesday-Thursday: AM Session: 9am -11:30am PT / 11am – 1:30pm CT / 12pm – 2:30 ET and PM Session: 1pm – 3:30pm PT / 3pm – 5:30pm CT / 4pm – 6:30pm ET
  • Friday: AM Session: 9am-12pm PT / 11am – 2pm CT / 12pm – 3pm ET
  • Subsequent Deep Dives (Optional, Dates TBD)

This retreat will be the sixth retreat hosted by the Wallace Center’s Food Systems Leadership Network. Previous retreats have taken place in Detroit, MI (2017), New Orleans, LA (2018), Kansas City, Mo (2018), Durham, NH (2019, and virtually (2021). Retreats have been co-designed and facilitated by the Wallace Center and its partners, including 10 Circles, a leading consultancy in systems thinking and systems leadership, FSLN members, and Food Solutions New England

Meet Your Retreat Facilitators

Natilee McGruder (Growing Green, LLC), Rachael Reichenbach (Resist Reimagine), Lindsey Lunsford (Tuskegee University)

Rachael Reichenbach (she/her) is a facilitator, coach, and soul friend. She currently creates under the name Resist Reimagine, supporting individuals and organizations through the iterative and ongoing process of showing up as liberation workers, change shapers, and systems leaders. She has worked closely with the FSLN since 2018 and has been in a posture of deepening her inner work and white anti-racist praxis for the past decade. She lives in a log cabin at Wild Hydrangea, an intentional community on the land of the Creek & Cherokee in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in northern Alabama. Here she practices and grapples with the beauty & challenge of living in community, the many facets of her Southern identity, and the ongoing experience of getting into right relationship with poison ivy.

Rachael was a Systems Leadership Retreat participant in New Orleans in 2018, and co-facilitated last year’s first-ever virtual Systems Leadership Retreat with Lindsey Lunsford and Joseph McIntyre. This year she is excited to partner with and learn from Lindsey and Natilee to create a retreat experience that makes the relationship between systems leadership and racial justice & equity explicitly clear. She is excited to co-create a space that centers connection, spaciousness, deep thinking, personal reflection, and sharing tools to translate what is learned in the Zoom world into practical application in the real world.

Dr. Lindsey Lunsford is an assistant professor of food systems, education, and policy at Tuskegee University. As a researcher, her passions lie in bringing forth and centering stories of Black joy, resilience, and power as they relate to food systems and equity work.  Lunsford’s research centers the “restorying” of narratives surrounding Black joy and resilience as they relate to food systems and collective liberation. Based in Tuskegee, Alabama she enjoys living closely to a rich culture and heritage that has already contributed vastly to the world. Lindsey is a highly sought after food systems expert & anti-racist education leader. Dr. Lunsford ranks nationally as one of the “Top 20 Emerging Leaders in Food and Agriculture” in the United States. 

Lindsey co-facilitated last year’s first-ever virtual Systems Leadership Retreat with Rachael Reichenbach and Joseph McIntyre whom she first met when she attended the Systems Leadership Retreat as a participant in New Orleans in 2018. Lindsey is diligently learning to cook better and more often, while still finding time to write poetry and try her hand at comedic writing. Few adore her more than her two dogs, Latto and Bambino, and that is perfectly ok. 

Natilee McGruder (she/her)  is a Montgomery native with deep roots in sustainable agriculture and community organizing nationally and specifically in the Black Belt. She has access to an extensive and diverse network of food and farming organizations, institutions, and individuals. As a food systems and equity consultant, she has expertise in building community food systems, facilitating crucial discussions, strategic planning, project management, planning and coordinating regional and national food and farming conferences as well as growing consulting relationships with organizations like the Wallace Center, Alabama Arise, the ACLU of Alabama and Tuskegee University.

Natilee is drawn to work that feels generative, impactful and fun. She was introduced to the concept of systems leadership as a participant in the 2019 retreat in New Hampshire. Through the process of co-creating this year’s Systems Leadership Retreat with Rachael, Lindsey and the Wallace team, she has explored liberatory consciousness, conflict resolution, equitable relationship building and co-visioning. She is excited to share those skills in a collaborative and creative spirit.

Interested in Learning More?

Hear from previous retreat participants about their experiences

“I hope to be able to share some of the tools with my team and implement them individually. For example, I know I can utilize the Dialogue Walk right away. Other tools, like Forcefield Analysis, Mental Models and the Iceberg Model, are things that I think can be incorporated into our theory of change process and strategic planning.
– New Orleans Food Systems Leadership Retreat Participant (2018)

“It reiterated the importance of taking a step back to really understand causation at a deep level. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, but a real systems leader will take the time to step back to assess the root cause of the problem.
– Detroit Food Systems Leadership Retreat participant (2017) 

“It has changed the way I do my day­ to­ day work and how I think about myself. 
– FSNE Network Leadership Institute Participant (2019)

“I did not know what to expect and left feeling like I had received something I had so needed and did not realize.
New Orleans Food Systems Leadership Retreat Participant (2018)

Email [email protected] with ‘Leadership Retreats’ in the subject line, or call Susan at (501) 280-3067.