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Module Fourteen – Convening

The How and Why of Gathering

How and why we gather is a critical question for any leader, perhaps now more than ever.  Sustaining relational connection during a pandemic is an issue with global reach at the moment.  Gatherings as we know them, are being reimagined.  Community building is happening, yet often in new and unfamiliar ways.  Relationships are deepening despite skeptical beliefs that doing so virtually is impossible.  The human urge to be together is showing itself in the emergence of virtual meeting spaces that refuse to embrace emotional distance while choosing to limit physical proximity.  Innovation is happening now, with renewed fervor, in service to how and why we gather.

We’ve gotten this question a lot these last two weeks: “how do I take the best of in person gatherings and convert, adapt or redesign them for the virtual space?”  The timing of this session couldn’t have been better to offer tangible guidance to anyone currently re-thinking how and why they gather.

During this session, Ken Saxon will share his approach to designing gatherings with impact.  And lucky for us, the principles he has brought together for use to guide his in person gatherings translate seamlessly to the virtual space.

So, bring that human ache to connect to our virtual session, and be ready to get creative about the ways you can create meaningful gatherings in the midst of our current reality.

See you soon,



Ken Saxon

Founder & Board Chair, Leading From Within

Following an entrepreneurial business career, Ken Saxon co-founded Leading From Within to invest in and nurture social sector leaders, who play such a critical role in the health of our communities.  Ken co-founded the Courage to Lead program for experienced nonprofit executive leaders in 2008, and Leading From Within’s Emerging Leaders program in 2013 and remains an instructor in both programs.  Ken was awarded the 2012 Man of the Year Award by the Santa Barbara Foundation for his significant and positive impact on the local region.  He is an alumnus of Princeton University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.




  1. Take a moment to remember a few of your most favorite gatherings. Replay the events from start to finish, and ask yourself what made it among the best?
  2. Take a moment to remember a few of your least favorite gatherings. Replay the events from start to finish, and ask yourself what made it among the worst?


  1. Where does your attention naturally go when designing a gathering?
  2. What surprised you in the talk?

Class Discussion

There is no class discussion this month.


Upcoming Events & Key Dates


April 14, 3:00-5:00PM | Zoom

May 15, 12:00-5:00PM | TBD

June 12, 2:00-5:00PM | TBD

June 12, 5:30-8:00 | TBD

Additional Resources

The Art of Gathering – Priya Parker

Project Aristotle – Google’s study on teams

Guide to Convening – Ken Saxon


by Julie Cadwallader-Staub


I am 52 years old, and have spent
truly the better part
of my life out-of-doors
but yesterday I heard a new sound above my head
a rustling, ruffling quietness in the spring air

and when I turned my face upward
I saw a flock of blackbirds
rounding a curve I didn’t know was there
and the sound was simply all those wings
just feathers against air, against gravity
and such a beautiful winning
the whole flock taking a long, wide turn
as if of one body and one mind.

How do they do that?

Oh if we lived only in human society
with its cruelty and fear
its apathy and exhaustion
what a puny existence that would be

but instead we live and move and have our being
here, in this curving and soaring world
so that when, every now and then, mercy and tenderness triumph in our lives
and when, even more rarely, we manage to unite and move together
toward a common good,

we can think to ourselves:

ah yes, this is how it’s meant to be.

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