Frequently Asked Questions – TLI


Q: Who should apply for the Transformational Leadership Institute?

A: The Transformational Leadership Institute (TLI) is for all who identify as women of color (cis and transgender) who are ready to make a deep commitment to healing and transformation at the personal, organizational communal and social level.  This year’s TLI focuses on women of color who are on the front lines of struggles for racial and gender justice in the face of unrelenting state violence. We invite women of color, regardless of position, who identify as healers, organizers, activists, organizational directors, artists, cultural workers, sacred space holders, funders and more, who believe that there is a need to integrate personal and communal healing in their work for systemic transformation.

Women who can attend the national gathering in New York (40 minutes outside of NYC), September 24-27, and have the capacity to dedicate at least 1-2 hours per week for the 10-month institute are encouraged to apply. We are especially looking for women who are looking for an experience that is different from traditional leadership development programs. Additionally, we are looking for women who have done some of their own personal work and ready to engage at a deeper level in their own transformation and healing, and who are interested in exploring the connection of spirituality and social justice.

SiOP is an intergenerational network. As a result, we are seeking a wide range of women who are ready to take a deep dive, including: (1) young women who are beginning their leadership journey and have the potential to begin practicing and advocating for transformative leadership within their organizations and communities; (2) mid-career women who are feeling stuck, burnt out or need a new way of leading to increase their impact and take their work to the next level; (3) elders in the movement who are currently in leadership or may have stepped down and need a space for reflection, redirection and transition support, and who are deeply committed to supporting a new generation of leaders; (4) healers who would like to deepen their own practice while also supporting others on their healing journey; (5) and coaches, facilitators, and trainers who are committed to supporting women of color leaders and are looking for a community of practice and collaboration.

Q: What do you mean by movement maker?

A: We use the term movement maker to refer to women of color working for social transformation whether you are a leader in a non-profit organization, a sole practitioner as a healer or artist, a social entrepreneur with your own business or consulting practice, etc. We have moved away from the term social justice leader because we realized it is limiting given the scope of women who have been attending our programs and retreats.

Q: What is the retreat? Where and when does it take place?

A: The year-long institute begins with a four-day retreat designed to build a strong community by fostering trusting relationships among participants and centering personal healing and transformation.

The retreat begins at noon on Thursday, Sept 24 and goes through 3pm on Sunday, Sept 27. It will be held at Bailey Farms in Ossining, NY (40 minutes outside of NYC).

Q: Is childcare provided?

A: If you need childcare, please let us know in your RSVP form, once accepted. We will work with you to make sure your needs are met and that you can participate fully and have your child(ren) cared for.

Q: I cannot attend the retreat  in September. Can I still apply for the institute?

A: Unfortunately, no. The gathering is a critical, mandatory component of the institute. If you cannot attend this year, we encourage you to apply next year.

Q: What is the cost of the retreat and TLI  and what expenses are included?

A: There is a sliding scale registration fee for the retreat, based on organizational budget or personal income. The actual cost of the retreat is $2,500, which includes lodging, meals, materials, staff/consultant time. We encourage all participants to make a contribution to support your participation based on our sliding scale, which can be viewed in the application form. We tried our best to make the fees accessible to women with a range of organizational budgets and income levels.  The registration fees are a critical part of our budget to ensure that SiOP is sustainable and can continue this work for years to come.

If you are unable to pay for the full amount, we encourage you to first seek sponsorship from your organization or to launch your own fundraising campaign to raise money from friends and family. As women of color, there can be great fear in asking for support for ourselves to engage in the essential healing, respite and leadership development that will make us healthy, impactful and sustainable to for the long haul.  We invite you to take a deep breath, be bold and make a powerful ask. It is not easy, but can be so worth it. If you want to talk this trough with someone please feel free to reach out to our network weaver, Taij Moteelall, at taij(at)spirtinaction(dot).net.

If you need financial support to attend, we have limited scholarship funds available, which you can request in your application.

The true cost of the full TLI is determined after participants and facilitators work together to design what the year-long process will look like after the retreat. TLI activities can range from one-on-one and group coaching to local/regional circles of change or a national campaign.

Q: Why do you need so much information about my identity in the application?

A: We are asking for quite a bit of information about your identity because a key goal is to ensure diversity across generation, race, ethnicity, geography, class, sexuality, dis/ability and more. We ask that you provide as much information that you are comfortable sharing. Our selection process is primarily based on having a truly diverse group of women at the gathering.


Q: Why does SiOP bridge spirituality and healing with social justice?

A: At SiOP we believe that our commitment to social justice comes from a place deep within that never forgets our ‘her-story’ as women of color. We embrace Sankofa, an Akan word that means, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.”

By reconnecting to our spirituality and being heart-centered, we are reclaiming something inherently within us, passed down to us by our ancestors, lost due to years of oppression and cultural genocide. Reclaiming our cultural assets and the tools of our ancestors, we believe we can recreate our sacred spaces within us and around us. We seek to integrate spirituality into our lives in order to contextualize our oppression within a social framework and operate from an authentic empowered self.

Through the Transformative Leadership Institute, we will tap into our spirit center and gain tools to cope with and resist the racism, sexism, classism, ageism, heterosexism, ableism, heterosexism, transphobia etc. that we encounter everyday and begin to connect the effects of these multiple forms of violence and oppression on our lives to a larger political, social and economic context as women of color working for social justice, particularly in the struggle against state violence. More importantly, we will make the connection that the feelings of powerlessness and fear (internalized oppression) that we have are a direct result of our stories of abuse, trauma and neglect. Collectively, and by engaging in our own empowerment, we replace what is not working in our lives with positive, life affirming ways of living & being and share tools to end the cycle of self destruction and to open the door to internal transformation and community change.

Q: Why do you focus on developing practice?

A: Knowing and having a vision is one thing, practice is another. Practice is what grounds wisdom into our bodies, our minds, our work and our lives. In order to live into a new vision for ourselves, our communities and our world, we realize that it is essential for us to support women of color to embody several core competencies that align with our vision. Embodiment comes through regular practice.

Q: Who is organizing this institute?

A: SiOP is a program of Spirit in Action, a national movement building organization that seeks to create a positive future for all. Spirit in Action builds a broad and interconnected social force committed to collectively transforming the world by working with communities to Reimagine culture, Resist domination, Reform institutions and Recreate society. Read more.

The Transformative Leadership Institute is organized by an inter-generational, diverse, cross-class group of women of color:

  1. Taij Kumarie Moteelall, Network Weaver
  2. Leslie Grant
  3. Diana Marie Lee
  4. Yaromil Fong-Olivares
  5. Nakisha Lewis
  6. Mayowa Obasaju
  7. Simone Devi Jhingoor

SiOP2012-pics--community-leadersApply Today!


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