Unlocking Our Food Systems Change Capacity: A Two-Day Leadership Retreat

October 28-31, 2018, Kansas City, MO

Are you hungry for more tools to shift the food system? Eager to connect with fellow food systems leaders, reflect on your individual and collective work, and examine it with fresh eyes? Then join 25 other dynamic leaders for this two-day intensive on leading transformative systems change.

"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." - Summer 2018 retreatant

The Food Systems Leadership Retreat is a facilitated convening of food systems leaders that dives deep into the tools of systems leadership and systems thinking for social change. During this 2.5-day intensive, you will participate in hands-on, experiential workshops that will help you to strengthen your leadership skills, give you new tools for mapping and finding the change levers in the systems you are working on, and support your growth as an effective facilitator of community change processes.

The Retreats are co-designed and facilitated by the Wallace Center and Joseph McIntyre of 10 Circles, a leading consultancy in systems thinking and systems leadership that has worked with a wide diversity of organizations to successfully facilitate change and collaboration across the food system. There is no cost for participation in the retreat and all lodging, meals, and materials are provided by the Wallace Center.

The Fall 2018 Retreat will occur in Kansas City, MO at the Heartland Retreat Center, a beautiful facility located on 320 acres just 15 minutes from Kansas City International Airport and 30 minutes from Kansas City's downtown.

What You'll Gain:

Over the course of 2.5 days, you can expect to walk away with:

  • Inspiration: a new way to see your work and your leadership from a systems-change lens.
  • Improved facilitation skills: whether you have led one meeting or hundreds, you will take home and have practiced facilitation skills that will help you bring your community together.
  • Systems thinking tools: moving beyond theories of change, you will get tools that help you diagnose the vicious cycles that keep your community from creating the future it wants - and how to change that.
  • A way to unlock the learning and wisdom of individuals in groups: you will experience peer coaching, a structured tool to help leaders and community members answer their own questions with support from others.
  • New ways to see: we will visit several of the stellar food systems change programs in the region, taking not field trips, but learning journeys, a tool for making site visits transformative experiences.
  • A peer support network: you will meet and spend meaningful time with fellow leaders whoshare your passion for change and wrestle with similar challenges, and in the months following the retreat you'll have opportunities to remain in relationship and solidarity through peer and one-on-one coaching.


  • 100% of participants will make changes to their practice based on what they learned
  • 100% of participants would recommend the retreat to their peers
  • 89% of participants felt more confident in their capacity as a food systems leader
  • 84% of participants had a greater understanding of systems leadership after attending this retreat

What to Expect:

Fall 2018 Retreat Schedule:

Sunday, October 28th --participant travel to Kansas City, MO, casual dinner at Heartland

Day 1: Monday, October 29th-- workshop in the morning and afternoon, evening dinner and festivities with Kansas City colleagues and friends

Day 2: Tuesday, October 30th-- Learning Journey in the morning, afternoon workshops, group dinner and evening session

Day 3: Wednesday, October 31st --morning reflection & workshops, closing circle, group lunch, afternoon departure 

Lodging, workshops, and most meals will occur at the Retreat Center; we will have vans available to transport participants into Kansas City for the Learning Journey, and Day 1's dinner and evening panel session. It is expected that participants arrive the evening of Sunday, October 28 and remain with the group throughout the Retreat, departing from the Heartland Retreat Center no sooner than 1pm CST on Wednesday, October 31.

Interested in learning more?


  • This opportunity is available to staff and leaders from non-profit 501 (c)3 organizations and organizations with fiscal sponsors. Teams of 2 from one organization or from several organizations that work closely together are encouraged to apply.
  • Priority will be given to food systems leaders of color and to individuals serving historically disinvested or excluded communities
  • To help establish regional connections and community, we will prioritize applicants who are coming from within 500 miles of Kansas City, MO.

Application Requirements

  • See the top of the page for a link to the application
  • Applicants must complete and submit an organizational capacity assessment as part of their application 
  • Applicants and their organizations must both be verified members of the FSLN (Sign up your organization here)
  • Retreat participants are required to complete an evaluation survey following the retreat

Applications will open August 6 and close August 22.

The Wallace Center will cover the cost of Retreat materials and the lodging, meals, and transportation during the Retreat. A limited number of travel scholarships will be available to support transportation to/from Kansas City, MO.

Additional Information 

Curious about what previous retreatants had to say about their experience?

  • "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 retreatant (Summer 2018)
  • "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 retreatant (Summer 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 retreatant (Fall 2017)

Applications Closed.

Questions? Email fslninfo@winrock.org with 'Leadership Retreats' in the subject line, or call Susan at (501)280-3076.