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3 Takeaways from an Entrepreneurship Retreat

The 2017 Echoing Green Fellows

This month, we introduced 36 new leaders to our community: the 2017 Echoing Green Fellows. To kick off their lifelong journey with Echoing Green, we gathered them in New York for the New Fellows Retreat. The 2017 Fellows — who work on a diversity of issues from equipping U.S. communities with comprehensive data on police violence to empowering women farmers in Africa — traveled to the retreat from 15 countries and across the United States. During the weeklong retreat, they got to know one another and also made connections with the broader Echoing Green community in New York.

Though it’s an incredibly important element of their Fellowship experience, the retreat is not only an opportunity to build community. For leaders who are launching new, sustainable organizations, it’s also important to understand the type of leader they are and the story they and their organization want to tell about the work. Throughout the retreat, Fellows focused on storytelling, workshopping their personal and organizational narratives, and reflecting deeply on their own experiences to inform how they connect their journey to impact they want to have on the world. They also attended sessions with Echoing Green’s team to talk through fundraising strategies, working with co-founders, and understanding the different legal structures of social impact-first businesses and nonprofits.

Several Fellows from previous classes shared lessons learned with the new class of Fellows. We were joined at the retreat by 2016 Edwin Cohen Community Steward Award Recipient, Laura Weidman Powers ’13, Ameca Reali ’11, Dhruv Lakra ’09, Deepa Gangwani ‘10, Emma Clippinger ‘09, Brenda Rogers ’05, Byomkesh Mishra ’12, Norma Francisco ‘99, Rohit Malhotra ‘15, and Echoing Green President Cheryl Dorsey ’92. The collective wisdom of this community, from our Fellows to our partners, supporters, and peers is too good not to share! Here are three takeaways on the entrepreneur’s journey gleaned from the week:


1. Entrepreneurs need a space to learn about themselves.

“This is so timely. It almost makes me wonder why all fellowships don’t have retreats like this because without it, it just seems like a very tough space to navigate in terms of personhood.” – Rachel Johnson-Farias, founder of Esq. Apprentice

Rachel Johnson-Farias, founder of Esq. Apprentice, and Ruth Nabembezi, founder of Ask Without Shame.


2. There is always room to learn and grow as entrepreneurs.

“There are times when you feel like you have already reached your destination, but this experience has given me the ability to stretch, realizing there is something else that I have the ability to grow into.” – Allen Woods, founding partner of MORTAR

Sandra Kwak, founder of 10Power; Lela Klein, founder of Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative; Allen Woods, co-founder of MORTAR; and Amanda Alexander, founder of Detroit Justice Center.


3. Bonding with other entrepreneurs is a necessity.

“It’s not only about the skill sets, but it’s also about the character and how we are feeding each other and nurturing our soul and spirit. So I really value that and the storytelling and getting to connect with people on a human level.” – Reyna Montoya, founder of Aliento


Jon Kornik, founder of Plentify; Reyna Montoya, founder of Aliento; and Swapna Reddy, founder of Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP).

For a behind-the-scenes look at the 2017 New Fellows Retreat, check out our full album on Facebook.

We’re looking forward to our next gathering with the 2017 class in the San Francisco Bay Area for our annual All Fellows Conference, followed by our first-ever Echoing Green Summit. For more information, visit our Events page.

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