Category Archives: Transformational Leadership

Creating a More Sustainable Future

This post was shared by Lynn Screen, Managing Director in Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.

Since its founding in 2012, the mission of the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL) has challenged us to “create a more sustainable & compassionate future”.  This mission speaks to our higher purpose and responsibility to prepare leaders who can address the issues that will lead to greater peace, environmental and economical sustainability, and a future in which human beings relate to one another with a caring approach consistent with Georgetown’s Jesuit values. During our 10th anniversary year, we are engaging our ITL community to explore the sustainability aspect of our mission.  

My first stop was to sit down with ITL Founder, Kate Ebner, one of the visionary leaders who saw the critical need for an institute that develops leaders from the inside out. Kate challenges us to reframe our individual relationship with the earth.  Instead of thinking about sustainability as things that we need to give up, “become caretakers of resources – stewards of the paces we love”.  For me, it’s Burke Lake in Burke, Virginia and Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  Since our conversation, I have found several opportunities to both contribute financially and through service to preserve these places that mean so much to me.

Georgetown University’s Jesuit Value “Care for Our Common Home” invites us to enter into a new and different “dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.”  In addition to protecting the Earth through conservation and preservation efforts, there is also a moral imperative at play.   We recognize the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color, so we are called to advance the work of environmental justice.

Kate Ebner calls on us to create a shared global vision of the future.  “Not one generation can solve this problem; it will take all generations and their unique abilities and understanding to work together. ”

As an Institute, we are committed to teaching the skills needed to see the interconnectedness of systems and to prepare people for the challenging conversations ahead.  During this year of reflection and action around sustainability, we are exploring what sustainability means in the fields of DEI, Coaching (both Leadership and Health & Wellness), Facilitation, and Organizational Development. What does sustainability look like in each of our programs? How can we do better individually and as an Institute?

In the coming months, you can expect a variety of reflections, challenges, and programming as we work to more fully live into our mission to create a more sustainable and compassionate future.  

What does sustainability mean to you individually and with respect to your chosen field?  How might you do better?


Download the ITL podcast with sustainability expert Jim Massey who inspires us to unleash the potential of people and the planet.  We explore the intersection of personal transformation, leading sustainability efforts in organizations, and some surprising ways to set off on your own sustainable journey. 

ITL Year in Review – 2021

As we close out 2021, we have much to celebrate in the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL). Looking back on the year, we are grateful for our community of transformational leaders: students, graduates, faculty, and staff working to create a more sustainable and compassionate future during these challenging times. 

We have done a lot in ITL this year.  We are so pleased to share these highlights:

ODCCL – The Organization Development Consulting & Change Leadership (ODCCL) program has a new name and has been redesigned to meet the moment – where concepts of work and workplace are being reimagined, where diversity, equity & inclusion and OD have become inextricably intertwined, and where OD learning and practice can be maximized via multiple modalities.

Health & Wellness Coaching – The Health & Wellness Coaching program continues to train pioneers in this emerging field – now accredited by both the International Coach Federation (ICF) & the National Board of Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). We are also launching an important partnership with the Georgetown University School of Medicine using health & wellness coaching to empower unhoused populations in DC to make progress towards better health. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) – The ITL DEI program completed cohorts 12 & 13 in 2021. We piloted new content on polarities as a way of offering students another lens through which to view DEI work. This highly sought-after program teaches the leadership skills and insights needed to support a strategic, sustainable approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion management while utilizing knowledge of oneself as an agent of change in the workplace. 

Facilitation – Our Facilitation program is leading us into the complexity and opportunity of facilitating in the hybrid workspace in addition to creatively designing for and facilitating human connection both in person and virtually. 

Leadership coaching – In 2021, we trained 5 cohorts of Leadership Coaches while launching a redesigned curriculum that prepares coaches to support and develop leaders to lead in the complexity of today’s world.  This year we partnered  with multiple organizations as a key part of a strategy to create a culture of coaching from government agencies to nonprofits and foundations.  

Professional Training Programs – We launched six new workshops in 2021:  Culturally Competent CommunicationBody Intelligence in LeadershipFrom CDO to COO: The Business of DEIEntrepreneurial Leadership CapacityCourageous Leadership in Action: No One Said It Would Be EasyBuilding Inclusive Workplaces through the Lens of Women’s Leadership

Faculty Training – We partnered with Georgetown’s Elizabeth Stanley, PhD, author of Widen the Window, to learn about how trauma might show up in our classrooms and how to teach and facilitate in a trauma-sensitive way.

Events- We celebrated the graduation of 760 students representing 31 cohorts across our five certificate programs, and the ITL Network convened our graduate community in a dynamic and moving virtual conference in November.

Partnerships & Training – We showcased our expertise in Leadership, Coaching, DEI and Organization Development through partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs Whole Health, AARP Purpose Prize, Georgetown University School of Medicine, USAID, the U.S. Air Force, and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. 

As 2021 comes to an end, we wish you much love and peace!

Meeting the Moment in Organization Development

This post was shared by the faculty of the Executive Certificate in Organization Development Consulting  & Change Leadership in Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.

Since the 1980s, Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies has been a leader in training Organization Development (OD) consultants & change leaders to support the changing dynamics of the systems they serve.  In 2021, this academic history has been leveraged in a redesign process to meet the moment – where concepts of of work and workplace are being reimagined, where diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) and OD have become inextricably intertwined, and where OD learning and practice can be maximized via multiple modalities.

We are proud to reintroduce the Executive Certificate in Organization Development Consulting & Change Leadership (ODCCL).  Some key factors that set this program apart from other types of OD training include:

Diversity of Faculty

We are thrilled to bring a 12-member faculty team to this program. At least two faculty members teach each of 8 modules which gifts students with the expertise and experience of a broad range of practitioners. Our faculty bring diversity in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, as well as in work experience. We have faculty who have worked as external consultants, as internal OD consultants, and as change leaders inside organizations. Our faculty also hail from multiple sectors — corporate, nonprofit, government, military, education, healthcare, and community organizing.

Cohort Model

Learning in community is at the heart of the program design.  Students will start and end the program in cohort with the same students who will take the entire program together. As the program is highly interactive, students will meet and work with more than 20 others who come from similar and different disciplines and backgrounds, which will deepen the learning experience.

Reflection Through Lines

The ODCCL program is greatly enhanced by five powerful themes that are woven throughout the 8-month experience.  Students will be encouraged to continually reflect on the content with the following through lines:

  1. Use of Self (including Emotional Intelligence and Embodiment)
  2. Power and DEI
  3. Polarities and Complexity
  4. Organizational Context and Culture
  5. Application by Professional Identity (external consultant, internal consultant, organizational  leader)

Multiple Modality Learning

Leveraging the lessons of 2020-2021, the ODCCL program engages students in synchronous and asynchronous modalities that maximize learning in our time apart and together. Students experience and learn multiple methodologies that support learning, dialogue and decision making — tools that can be applied to work as a practitioner.

Practical, Applied Learning

For 30 years, this has been, and continues to be, a practitioners’ program. Our faculty are all OD practitioners, and the program has been redesigned to harness the richness of the three primary streams of people this program attracts: External consultants/coaches, internal HR/OD/DEI professionals and internal change leaders. Students will be continually invited to ground what is learned in current work situations, and will benefit from hearing the perspectives of others who occupy roles different than their own. We also continue to work with real life applications of OD on current workplace challenges such as managing the polarities of returning to face-to-face work, equity and justice in the workplace, and the impact that virtual and hybrid workplaces have on engagement, supervision, management and culture. Most importantly, a cornerstone of the program is an OD project with a real client, which gives all students the opportunity to apply the learning, to work in teams, to receive coaching and support, and to learn from each other’s experiences.

Learn more about the Executive Certificate in Organization Development Consulting & Change Leadership  in the Institute for Transformational Leadership.  

The Mindset of an Entrepreneur

Each year in the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL), we train hundreds of coaches (leadership & health and wellness), consultants (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion & Organizational Development) and facilitators.  Many are looking to leave their previous jobs behind to chart a new path on their own.  Academic Entrepreneur Jay Markiewicz, who has trained over 1000 global practitioners of entrepreneurship,  offers his perspective and personal story to help us navigate the journey.

What advice do you have for a new entrepreneur?

It all starts with the mindset that Entrepreneurs are first and foremost empathetic problem finders. Seeing challenges, unmet needs, and opportunities from the customer’s perspective is fundamental entrepreneurship. Once we hone in on customer problems then we shift into innovative and creative solution generators. The work of the entrepreneur then, playfully stated, is to “make it up and test it.” The process of finding problems and creating solutions (making it up) must be methodically tested through customer centric experiments in order to validate what we just created (made up!). The tests and experiments are iterated based on feedback in order to optimize our concept. Growth of our startup then comes down to “repeating experiments that work!”

What should practitioners keep in mind as they make this leap?

I too set out on my own to create startups in support of working as a coach, facilitator, and consultant. What I found was that the skills, behaviors, and most importantly mindsets that I had developed as a coach (facilitator, consultant) do not easily translate to those necessary for success as an entrepreneur. There are distinct capacities that I needed to learn and develop in order to be effective as an entrepreneur. At times, it led to frustration as I had to put on a beginner hat (seriously, why wasn’t this easy!). And now to you, you got this! Don’t let the notion of being a beginner hold you back as you can learn those capacities and live your entrepreneurial dream. The journey is very rewarding and brings with it many emotional roller coasters that simply remind us that we are alive and doing it!

How can internal leaders tap into the entrepreneurial spirit?

What I have found astounding is how translatable entrepreneurship skills and mindsets are to the world of leadership. Entrepreneurs are leaders, though leaders don’t necessarily think of themselves as entrepreneurs. There is an identity that has been created called “intrapreneur” to describe the internal leader that exhibits entrepreneurial capacity. Today more than ever we need those intrapreneurs because business is operating in an ambiguous environment where complex problems and challenges are ever present. Through the years, entrepreneurs have developed capacities to navigate these situations. So translating these entrepreneurial capacities and applying them in today’s business context as an intrapreneur leader makes total sense. Entrepreneurial approaches and skills like problem solving, creativity and innovation, customer centric solutions, and empathy will enhance any leader’s toolset.

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.

First and foremost, I have discovered my internal compass directs me on a career path that is dynamic. I love to discover new and exciting things in service to my insatiable curiosity on how things work. This results in a career that has shifted many times in the past; nuclear engineer, officer in the Navy, leader in a fortune 100 financial services company, entrepreneur, even an ‘amateur’ athlete, and now educator…curious what’s next! From the entrepreneur standpoint, I found my inner self just urging me to make the move. So around the age of 40 and after several years of building up the courage, I put in my 2-week notice from my cushy job to step into the unknown and start a business with two partners. It was one of the greatest decisions of my life, and the scariest one too!  Since then, I’ve engaged in several startups, some of which are successful and some of which are not. I keep my entrepreneurial skills honed as a consultant entrepreneur and am always on the lookout for the next thing… In the meantime, I have found a love for supporting those who desire to follow their entrepreneurial dreams and do that by creating workshops and courses that have been delivered around the world.
Learn more about Georgetown’s professional workshop Entrepreneurial Leadership Capacity led by Jay Markiewicz. 


This post was shared by Maria van Hekken – faculty in Georgetown’s Executive Certificate in Leadership Coaching.

What would it take for you to live life in full flourish?

If you flowed in the wind like flowers do?

If you naturally tilted your gaze unabashedly toward the light?

If you blossomed right where you’re planted now,

Grew luxuriantly for all to see,

Achieved success as you define it,

And created seeds of change as only you know how?

What if you reached your full height (and power),

If others looked to you for advice or inspiration,

If you planted seeds as far and wide as the breezes will carry?

Yes, you can flourish.

You can dare to thrive.

It’s all right to blossom in this season

To show what you’re made of

To love who you are and the life you’ve cultivated.

Look at the clever flourishes of the sky-blue clematis,

The soft yellow flowers of tomatoes-to-be,

The feathery fronds of the grasses everywhere –

They don’t worry what others might think.

They carry on, doing what they were meant to do.

And really:

Who among us looks at a flower and asks, why are you allowed to be so amazing?

To be so happy?

To be so admired?

Now, this summer,

This time in your life,

Live your life fully,

Share your beauty with the world,

Go forth and flourish, as you are meant to.


Read more from Maria van Hekken on her Positive Thinking for Leadership Success blog here.