Courageous Leaders for Collective Liberation

A new program for social service professionals, community organizers, spiritual activists, and all who care about our world


Program Overview

In these trying times, we are being called to lead together–ever more urgently–with courage and compassion.

We believe that courageous, compassionate leadership embodies many forms, and that it is most effective when grounded in deep, loving contemplative practice and an unwavering commitment to liberation for all.  We teach who we are, and if we are not doing our own personal work, that will reflect in our service efforts. And if we are doing deep contemplative work, but aren’t aware of the ways in which our capacity for care is limited by social and cultural conditioning, we may not realize our full potential. We also may end up perpetuating the very systems of oppression from which we aim to free ourselves and others.

Our Courageous Leaders for Collective Liberation Program is therefore designed to support both spiritual activists and organizers who wish to both grow and strengthen a healing and restorative contemplative practice as well to commit to taking action to make systems and communities they serve more caring and just. The training is open to all educators, health professionals, social workers, activists, organizers, spiritual teachers, community leaders and caring professionals who wish to:

  • expand their vision for a more compassionate, just society;
  • strengthen their contemplative practice in ways that are sustaining and generative;
  • develop systemic and structural competency and fluency in anti-oppressive pedagogies;
  • learn tools for healing and transforming privilege and oppression; and
  • join a growing professional learning community of spiritual activists committed to critical self-discovery and collective liberation.

Statement on Inclusion

We are dedicated to recruiting a cohort that is representative inclusive of people of various ages, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, spiritual or religious traditions, and of professional and education experience. We believe this work will succeed inasmuch as it is reflective of and responsive to the needs of our diverse human family.

Program Structure

The program is designed as a year-long course to offer time, space and community building necessary for deep, meaningful and actionable work to unfold. The training includes the following in-person and online learning components:

  • Roots of Care and Compassion Workshop | *July 13-18, 2018 in Oakland
  • Self Love and Liberation Online Seminar | Fall 2018
  • Courageous Leadership Development Workshop | Winter 2019
  • Compassionate Leadership Online Seminar | Spring 2019
  • Community Capstone Retreat | June 2019 in Oakland, CA


The Roots of Care and Compassion Workshop is a weekend intensive designed to support participants’ personal contemplative practice, build community, and support bold, collective visioning for our shared work. This year the Foundations Retreat will be held at Courage of Care’s Oakland Headquarters from *July 13-18, 2018. Participants will need to arrange their own travel and accommodations.

The Self Love and Liberation Seminar is an 8-week course designed to help participants access their own innate capacities for care and compassion and uproot internalized oppressive structures that inhibit their service work through training in our relational compassion model, Sustainable Compassion Training. The seminar will also include an exploration of compassion-based practices from diverse contemplative traditions and practice to further nourish, support and inspire our collective work. The Self Love and Liberation Seminar is offered online once per week for eight weeks from mid-September through mid-November, 2018

The Courageous Leadership Development Seminar is an 8-week course designed to support and strengthen participants’ ability to lead with compassion and courage. Together we will explore ways of building cooperative and collaborative leadership styles by: 1) learning how to assess the strengths of communities and groups we serve; 2) understanding how to facilitate safe, welcoming, inclusive and trauma-sensitive spaces that foster connection and creativity through effective anti-racist and anti-oppressive pedagogy; 3) practicing navigating complex topics and difficult conversations and taking bigger risks in our work; 4) expanding our sense of community and the “we”; and 5) reflecting on our own strengths and opportunities for growth. 

The Courageous Compassionate Leadership Action Project involves the design and implementation of an action project in your organization or community that is informed by the principles of sustainable compassion training and courageous, compassionate leadership. Participants might design and implement a class in their workplace, focus on building group relationships in their community, use the tools of the program to address a current issue or edge in their institution, or work on explicitly integrating the principles of the program into their current leadership work to inspire others and motivate collective healing and transformation. Participants will work in peer support groups with one or more of our core faculty to workshop their programs, reflect on their leadership styles, and build stronger connections with potential collaborators and learning partners from the training cohort.  These learning circles will meet online for 8 consecutive weeks beginning in mid-February.

The Community Capstone Retreat offers a chance for the cohort to convene again for a 2.5 day intensive at our Oakland headquarters. Participants will be invited to share and reflect on their leadership growth and development. Together the group will practice ways of strengthening our community and ability to continue working, learning and strategizing together, and work toward aligning our shared visions for more compassionate, just communities. Participants wishing to receive a “Certificate of Completion” for the training will be invited to submit a portfolio for review in advance of the final retreat. The portfolio should contain a leadership statement, a personal development reflection, letters of support from colleagues and those they have served.

Contributing Program Faculty

Chrissy Colon Bradt




Ana Hristic





Brooke D. Lavelle




Veta Goler

Application and Program Fees

All tuition costs listed in the application linked below include retreat and online course tuition, as well as coaching, supervision and certificate fees. *These costs do not include travel to/from and room and board at the weekend workshop in Oakland.  

We are offering 3 need-based, service-recognition and work-exchange scholarships per application pool. We do believe it is important for every member of our cohort to invest in our learning community, so we do not offer full scholarships. The full program fee is $4950; we do offer 25% and 50% reduced fee work-exchange scholarships and will work with all committed participants on other arrangements to make this training possible! We can support those needing to raise funds as well. 

We also offer discounts to organizations or community groups of two or more.


Please indicate your request for a need-based and/or work exchange scholarship in your application form. If you are requesting a work-exchange scholarship, please also send us your CV with a description of skills you can offer.


Q: Does this certify me to teach Courage’s Leadership Program?

A: No. This is not a standard “certification” program. The program is designed to help participants deepen their practice and teaching in a variety of ways.

Q: How does this relate to other leadership programs for activists and organizers?

A: We see complementarity with a number of programs. Our approach aims to integrate deep contemplative training with critical social analysis and inclusive, anti-oppressive pedagogies. Our team has a diverse range of experience in education, social work, health care, spiritual activism, organizing, contemplative studies, and LGBTQ+ issues. We collectively draw on these backgrounds to create a collaborative learning environment that fosters deep personal reflection and sustainable, committed service.


Q: Can I enroll in parts of the program without enrolling in the whole program?

A: Because community is essential to the success of this work, the program is open only to accepted applicants who are able to complete the entire training. We do offer public retreats and workshops. Visit our workshops listings for more information.