Living Systems Leadership: A Retreat for Women

Nature-inspired tools & practices
Enlivened with play, wonder, curiosity, inquiry

September 12-17, 2021

Ocamora Retreat Center in Northern New Mexico

Are you a woman looking for proven strategies to help lead toward a sustainable and regenerative future? Are you passionate about the natural world and how life’s evolutionary processes can inform a pathway forward for humanity? Are you curious about nature’s intelligence as a model for leadership practices, organizational strategy, or social change, and would you like to learn how to tap into that seemingly infinite source of innovation and inspiration? 

What might you learn by immersing yourself in the beauty of the natural world, in the company of an extraordinary group of women, experiencing intimacy with nature as inspiration for your own evolving leadership?

The call of our time is for women to step forward to lead in new ways, embodying approaches that are adaptive, resilient, collaborative, networked – practices that the natural world has masterfully evolved over nearly 4 billion years. With nature as our teacher, we will explore the mountains, grasslands, and organisms of this stunning northern New Mexico retreat center, and practice the skills to connect with nature and deepen our relationships with life. 

Society is evolving from the “Industrial Age” to the “Ecosystem Age,” and it’s time to tune our antennae toward successful strategies in the natural world.  We’ll learn nature’s adaptations and overarching principles of ecosystem health, then translate them into transformative leadership practices for cultivating thriving communities, organizations, and social change initiatives.

“I had no idea how deeply this retreat would touch me, teach me, inspire me, move me, and how it continues to ripple through me even after it is over … A rare and precious opportunity to witness and experience what is embodied leadership from billions of years of evolutionary process distilled into a retreat. Amazing!

– 2019 participant

What to Expect?

Imagine yourself awakening to the sounds of elk bugling in the early morning light, walking barefoot in the creek to explore how beavers collaboratively build community structures, soaking in the hot tub under the starriest sky you’ve ever seen, and experiencing the unique privilege of solitude in nature as well as the joy of sharing these connections with other amazing women.

Our days will be filled with intimate experiences of the local ecosystem, getting to know the plants, animals, and birds of this special place and what they can teach us about ourselves and our own communities. We will learn what it means to be both visitors to and stewards of a landscape. We will practice the art of listening, observing, wondering, and distilling insights from direct experiences of nature, and practicing Dekaaz, a form of poetic interpretation based on the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Mean.

Direct coaching with our dedicated instructors and collaborative engagement with a diverse group of purposeful women will help you connect deeply with the place and local organisms who call this place home, distilling complex ecological processes into specific pathways and practices to inform your own leadership.

The Ocamora Retreat Center nurtures intimacy with nature, rest, and rejuvenation. You will have time to wander in the tempo of your own rhythms. You will be served lovingly prepared organic meals. You will be supported by a diverse community of other extraordinary women, all committed to a re-storying of what a regenerative practice of leadership could mean.

Learning Objectives

Practice skills to connect with nature and deepen your understanding of and relationship with life

Translate principles of healthy ecosystems into transformative leadership tools for cultivating thriving communities, organizations, social change initiatives

Distill a set of regenerative nature-inspired leadership practices relevant to your work and life

Foster curiosity and wonder about the natural world as inspiration for your evolving leadership

Build your capacity to inspire others when you return to your community and work

Who Should Attend?

Change-agents who want to deepen their commitment to sustainability as a central practice in their work as leaders

Women leaders in both non-profit and for-profit environments, and those who may not consider themselves to be “leaders,” but who want to help with the social transformations necessary for the “ecosystem age”

Sustainability leaders looking for new models, methods, and metaphors that align with the purpose of their work

Women wanting to deepen their understanding of the natural world and develop skills to connect with and discover nature in their home habitats

The workshop is for leaders who are interested in connecting with nature as a source of inspiration and guidance. Designed as a program specifically for women, we aim to convene an extraordinary community, diverse in age, race, class, and interest area to learn with and from each other about how we can collectively re-birth a society inspired by healthy, thriving ecosystems.

We believe in collaboration and partnership as the way that the world can work for everyone. Limited scholarships are available for women who would otherwise not be able to attend. Registration will open soon to apply for a scholarship, but you can click here to contribute to the scholarship fund to support another woman’s participation.

The Place

Founded in 1981, the Ocamora Retreat Center is a 265-acre haven nestled in a high valley at 7,500 ft elevation on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo range in northern New Mexico. Located in a mile-long valley of irrigated organic agricultural, forested Oak and Ponderosa Pine woodlands, lush perennial grasslands, a creek, year-round spring, and mountain wilderness. Ocamora is two hours northeast of Santa Fe and an hour east of Taos. Although it receives only 15-20” of rain a year, with 340 sunny days on average, Ocamora lies within an uncharacteristically lush valley within a high desert plateau, providing habitat for abundant wildlife, birds, and plant life.

At its essence, the Ocamora experience offers a relationship to nature that is unusually precious in our increasingly urbanized world. Here survives a rare, quiet space far from the cacophony of civilization, fostering intimate relationship with land, soulful connection with community, and transformative personal renewal and regeneration.

“I have been on several retreats and immersions and this one was by far the most effective at breaking down walls, opening eyes and hearts, and allowing participants to learn indelibly from nature in community with each other. My experience far exceeded my expectations in terms of new insights and “a-ha” moments that will inform and influence how I lead and live in the future. The combination of the remote setting, the facilitation, the intentional diversity of both facilitators and participants, and the subject matter covered amounted to a transformational experience, meaning I am forever changed, and for the better.”      

– 2019 participant



Founder, Biomimicry for Social Innovation; Senior Trainer Rockwood Leadership Institute

Toby, leadership trainer and master facilitator, is the Founder of Biomimicry for Social Innovation. Toby is committed to the creation of a just, healthy, and regenerative society, and heartfully enthused about the transformative potential of applying nature’s wisdom
to humanity’s sustainability aspirations. With 25 years of facilitation experience, she is a Senior Trainer with the Rockwood Leadership Institute, co-founder of Cultivating Women’s Leadership, a consultant to organizations such as The Sierra Club, and on the faculty of several national training programs. Toby is a certified Biomimicry Specialist and key faculty in Biomimicry 3.8’s two-year professional certification program. She finds much of her purpose in catalyzing diverse networks of social change innovators, including the Young Climate Leaders, and intends to germinate a co-evolving network of leaders using nature’s intelligence as guidance and inspiration.


Award Winning Activist / educator and Vocal Artist

Rachel is an award-winning author/artist/activist/educator; a former member of Bobby McFerrin’s a cappella ensemble, Voicestra with a Stanford Law Degree. Founder of Singing Farm, Rachel supports organizing to stop fracking gas pipelines threatening to transect rural West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Her clients include leaders in grassroots organizations and social enterprise C-Suites. An internationally recognized keynote speaker who has mentored women to unleash their voices as instruments of transformation for over 30 years, she is the bestselling author of Daughterhood and Divine Daughters: Liberating the Power and Passion of Women’s Voices. Rachel originated
“dekaaz” (pronounced [deck-ahs]):
a wisdom-catching form that hones principles of nature, inquiries, and ahas into just 10 syllables of shareable insights that you consummate out loud.


Biologist, Restoration Ecologist, & Certified Biomimicry Professional

Early on, Karen discovered her true passion in life is to cultivate connections with nature and restore resilience. She’s been doing just that over the past 25+ years through her business, Aequinox. Karen regularly collaborates with others on large-scale habitat restoration, sustainability, and biomimicry projects to help protect and restore ecosystems, generate sustainable innovations, and foster connections to nature. She brings her deep love of natural history to workshops, translating nature’s strategies for non-biologists. Karen is a key faculty member of the Biomimicry Masters Degree program at ASU and
an international biomimicry trainer. In workshops aimed at connecting with and understanding natural systems, Karen cultivates curiosity, inquiry, and a deep respect for the natural world. Karen hopes participants connect with nature as well as connect with themselves as part of nature.

Program costs

Program cost, including all tuition, materials, instruction and experiences on the land, is $1495. In addition, lodging and meal costs are based on room selection (see below).

Lodging #1: single occupancy rooms, cabins, or orchard yurts (includes meals, and facilities use) – limited availability – first come, first served (7 spots available): $800 for full workshop

Lodging #2: double/triple-occupancy lodging (includes meals, and facilities use): $500 for full workshop

Lodging #3: Orchard camping, using your own equipment (includes meals, and facilities use): $400 for full workshop

Course fees do not include transportation to the site, which can be cooperatively organized from the Albuquerque and Santa Fe airports. Some partial scholarships are available (see below).

Buddy Discount

We want to encourage you to attend this course with someone you know as a way to reinforce learning and to support you both in implementing new practices. Sign up with a buddy and you will each receive a $200 discount. This offer is limited to 3 buddy pairs – register soon for this opportunity.

Scholarships – limited availability!

In order to ensure that participants include a diverse network of change agents, funds have generously been offered by the NoVo Foundation and the McKnight Foundation to support a limited number of partial scholarships for leaders who would otherwise be unable to attend. These scholarships will be distributed through an application process.

Scholarship applications are due by July 15, 2021, with applications considered in the order they are received (best to get your application in early!). See Financial Aid section of Registration Form to apply.

Registration and Deadlines

Registration deadline: August 1, 2021. Due to the limited number of spaces, early registration is highly encouraged. 

If not applying for a scholarship, a $500 tuition deposit is due at the time of registration. Any remaining tuition balance and lodging payments are due no later than August 15th, 2020. See registration form for full details.


Flights are available into Albuquerque (ABQ; 3 hours drive time to Ocamora) and Santa Fe (SAF; 2 hours drive time to Ocamora). Please note: many more flight options are available into Albuquerque. Please plan to arrive with ample time to get to Ocamora by 4:00 pm on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 with departures from ABQ or SAF no earlier than 5:30pm on Sunday, September 13, 2020.

Upon registration, you will receive detailed information about what to bring, driving directions, a spreadsheet for carpool self-organizing, and other details.

For more information please e-mail [email protected]

“Living Systems Leadership offers a powerful alternative to the mainstream paradigm, where one learns from the natural world to build healthy and thriving ecosystems in both personal and professional realms”

– 2018 participant