Organizational Retreats

ELP Org Retreats 2Organizations face varying challenges depending on its mission, the stage of the organization (from start-up to maturity) and its make-up (for example size & diversity of staff, skill sets represented, etc.). EMERGE will work with organizations to design retreats aligned with emergent leadership principles and techniques and geared to effectively address organizational issues. Recent projects include a Board retreat to review the 20 year-old’s non-profit’s structure and impact on effectiveness, a firm-wide formative retreat for the first for-profit co-operative design firm in Washington State, a firm-wide retreat for a 20-year-old design firm looking at “polishing” its collaborative skills and the landscape design team of an internationally renowned green architecture firm.

Please contact us for a proposal for services. Contact Kathleen O’Brien at or 206-200-1864.


“The landscape architecture team at Mithun, Inc. asked the EMERGE Leadership Project to help facilitate our retreat with the intent of building team cohesion, increasing project quality and efficiency and creating a plan to meet our professional development goals.  Kathleen guided us adeptly through the planning of the goals and agenda for the day, as well as bringing fresh and fun ideas for exercises that helped us identify our strengths and challenges. She orchestrated the day with flexibility, yet kept us on track and made sure everyone felt engaged and was an active participant. We left the retreat feeling stronger as a team and with tangible actions to further the success of our group, projects, and contribution to our integrated firm design.” Dakota Keene, Associate Principal, Mithun, Inc.

It’s not easy as a small design firm to find an effective facilitator for office retreats.  We needed someone who understood who we are, what we do, and a basic understanding of what we cared about, and someone we could trust. We contacted Kathleen O’Brien of The EMERGE Leadership Project and she fit the bill beautifully – she understands the design profession, understands professionals who have committed themselves to the sustainable public environment, and has been exposed to many dimensions of our professional world.  And she was able to adjust to our needs, schedule and budget in a creative thoughtful manner, and created a retreat tailor made.  She took us through a process that was eye opening from beginning to end, and was able to pull out honest dialogue for our team.  We got what we asked for and more: we were opened to even more of the landscape of topics we should tackle than were expected.  The retreat was able to bring forth everyone’s voice and contribution in our small firm that allowed us all to see the values we share, our strengths and weaknesses within a comfortable, safe and caring and honest space.  I have been through my share of office retreats that felt like a waste of time.  This retreat turned that around for us – every hour spent with Kathleen’s guidance was of lasting value. Kas Kinkead, President, Cascade Design Collaborative

“We asked the EMERGE Leadership Project to help us forge a new direction. The retreat with Kathleen preceded our annual Board meeting the next day. That Board meeting was the most productive we’ve had in a long time! Thankyou!” Jason Lear, Co-President, Northwest Eco-Building Guild

“Thank you for a fantastic and inspirational retreat weekend!  We have already started implementing some of the ideas and goals into our weekly planning.  What a difference a weekend makes!” Suzanne Davis, Director of Community Development, Third Place Design Co-operative