The Institute

StartingBloc uses an experiential model for leadership development. Within our 5-day Institute, we deliver analytical frameworks, skillsets, and models for mindset transformation. We strongly believe that powerful leadership development focuses both on competence and leadership maturity, and that our biggest leverage point comes through the maturing of leaders.

Our programming was recently rated a 9.6/10 by our program participants on a basis of quality and content delivered at the Institute.

Upcoming Institutes

Los Angeles
February 22-26
Application Deadline
November 30

New Orleans
May 17-21
Application Deadline
January 25

Raleigh
June 21-25
Application Deadline
February 8

New York
August 16-20
Application Deadline
April 19

Apply Now

Day 1: Off the Bloc

The day starts with an intention-setting exercise and a powerful speaker whose life experience highlights the role and necessity of community. This is followed by an engaging workshop delivered by the Transformative Action Institute. Using TAI’s extensively researched methods, Fellows learn to integrate the principles of Transformative Action, Deep Connections and Creativity into their work to build a foundation for impact.

Day 2: Owning Your Vision

Today is focused on articulating vision and storytelling. Polarity Mapping (a mindset framework for working within paradox) is introduced in the morning via an interactive workshop. Fellows learn to manage competing values and integrate paradox into how they frame their own leadership and work on teams. The afternoon hones in on iterating, crafting, and delivering a 60-second vision statement to share with the room. To close the day, a speaker shares their vision, along with the work it takes to achieve it.

Day 3: Taking Action

The process of Rapid Prototyping is introduced, followed by an opportunity to jump right into iterating and creating prototypes to real challenges. In partnership with local organizations, real challenges are presented to the Fellows to actively practice and put into action the Rapid Prototyping Process. Each organization is paired with a team of Fellows, and within 3 hours, they are able to develop an average of 10 different solutions with two well-developed prototypes. Fellows leave with experience and understanding of the Rapid Prototyping Process, and local organizations leave with prototypes for their challenges.

Day 4: Pass the Mic

The day dives into intentional conversation around identity, equity, and the real work of creating and living within inclusive workspaces. We move through the personal and the political, and focus most of the morning on how critical it is to centralize inclusivity in the ways we build our systems of work. In the afternoon, the mic is passed to the cohort and Fellows are asked to share their wisdom by leading sessions and short workshops in an Unconference style format.

Day 5: The Road Ahead

We utilize the Transformative Action Institute’s curriculum around cultivating luck to kick off a morning of engagement with the cohort. Fellows learn how to become luckier by making specific asks and offering gives to small groups. Finally, we explain how to engage with the StartingBloc Fellowship post-Institute and close with a systems-focused speaker.


Past Speakers

Meet some of the speakers and mentors from past StartingBloc Institutes.
Laurin Hodge

Laurin Hodge

Executive Director + Co-Founder, Mission : Launch

Laurin Hodge often says she did not pick prison; prison picked her. It was the unexpected incarceration of her mother for a first-time, nonviolent, white-collar indictment, which motivated her to craft a social entrepreneurial career. As the Executive Director, Laurin oversees the day-to-day development of the organization and serves as the vision keeper for shifting policies, programs, practices and ultimately the allocation of resources. Through Mission: Launch Laurin envisions the elimination of the social stigma returning citizens face upon release from prison or jail. The lasting harm caused by our criminal justice system requires a robust approach to change. By way of an innovative workforce development strategy Mission: Launch seeks to simplify the path from incarceration to stability and ultimately self-sufficiency by addressing occupational licensing barriers for DC-Baltimore residents.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Best Selling Author

Seth Godin is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow. In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth has founded several companies, including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. His blog (which you can find by typing “seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. He founded the altMBA workshop, an intensive 30-day experience that has more than 1,000 graduates in 30 countries. His latest book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn is now in its fifth printing. You can find it at yourturn.link. Photo by Brian Bloom.

Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett

Host/Executive Producer On Being. President, Krista Tippett Public Productions

Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author. She created and hosts the public radio program and podcast On Being and curates the Civil Conversations Project., an emergent approach to the differences of our age She received the 2013 National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of every background to join her conversation about faith, ethics, and moral wisdom.

Kierra Johnson

Kierra Johnson

Executive Director, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

Kierra Johnson heads the leading pro-choice organization working to mobilize and provide ongoing support for the diverse, upcoming generation of leaders who promote and protect reproductive choice both now and in the future. With 17 years of experience in the field, Kierra is a leader in the reproductive justice and progressive movements. She has lifted up the value of regional and cross-movement collaborations to foster youth leadership development that will strengthen the pro-choice progressive base in crucial communities in the United States. She serves on the Groundswell Fund’s Board of Directors and on the National LGBTQ Taskforce National Action Committee.

Michelina Ferrara

Michelina Ferrara

Deputy Director, Atlas : DIY

Michelina Ferrara is a fierce and fiery advocate for social change. Her experience as an organizer, youth worker and activist connects issues ranging from youth incarceration to immigrant justice to reproductive justice to creating safe spaces for youth—building an intersectional framework that transforms our communities. She lives, loves, and shouts from Brooklyn where she can be found rocking high top sneakers & big earrings, and chanting Assata Shakur: It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains!

Robert Egger

Robert Egger

Founder, DC Central Kitchen & LA Kitchen

Robert is the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen, which recovers locally sourced, cosmetically imperfect fruits and vegetables to fuel a culinary arts job training program for men and women coming out of foster care and older men and women returning from incarceration. Robert pioneered this model during his 24-year tenure as the president of the DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen”. Since opening in 1989, the kitchen (which is an $12-million-a-year, self-sustaining social enterprise) has produced over 35 million meals and helped 1,500 men and women gain full-time employment. He was the recipient of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement” award and the 2004 James Beard Foundation 'Humanitarian of the Year' award.

Gayle Karen Young

Gayle Karen Young

Former Chief Talent & Culture Officer, Wikimedia Foundation

Gayle Karen Young is a culture-builder and a catalyst for human and organizational development. She comes from a rich organizational consulting background with both corporate and nonprofit clients. She was in process of becoming a monk when she became an executive instead, taking on the role of Chief Culture and Talent Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia and its sister free-knowledge projects) until early 2015, when she decided to return to private practice as a rogue provocateur. Born in the Philippines to Chinese parents and raised in the United States, she has a multicultural perspective, an adventurous spirit, and a deep commitment to expanding human freedom.

Majora Carter

Majora Carter

CEO of Startup Box

Majora Carter is an urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation & successful implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training & placement systems. After establishing Sustainable South Bronx and Green For All (among other organizations) to carry on that work, she built on this foundation with innovative ventures and insights into urban economic developments designed to help move Americans out of poverty.

Meghan French Dunbar

Meghan French Dunbar

Co-Founder, Conscious Company Media

Meghan French Dunbar is Co-Founder of Conscious Company Media, which is the first multimedia organization in the country that specifically focuses on purpose-driven business. The company’s flagship product — Conscious Company Magazine — was the first print and digital, nationally distributed publication in the United States to focus solely on sustainable and conscious business. After its launch in January 2015, the magazine was quickly picked up by Whole Foods Market, Target, HEB, Barnes and Noble, Kroger, and more.

Scott Sherman

Scott Sherman

Executive Director, Transformative Action Institute

Scott is an expert on the most effective ways that citizens succeed in creating social progress and innovation. His work on nonviolent social change has been praised by the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. He is currently writing a book called, 'How We Win: The Science of Making the World a Better Place'. He is currently the Senior Director of Social Innovation at Claremont McKenna College.

Susie Lee

Susie Lee

CEO, Siren

Susie Lee is the CEO and co-founder of Siren, a dating app that unlocks real personality for first time-conversations. A graduate of Yale, Columbia and UW with degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, science education, and art, Lee brings her skills as a social sculptor to amplify humanity in technology. Her work has been collected by numerous institutions including the Denver Art Museum, Mitchell Center for the Arts, Frye Art Museum, and Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. Siren partnered with Durex on a 37million view campaign and has been featured on NPR, The Guardian, CNN, The Stranger, GeekWire, ThinkProgress, Frieze, and The Establishment.

Nick Fellers

Nick Fellers

President, For Impact | The Suddes Group

Nick is co-founder of For Impact and president of The Suddes Group. In the last 10 years he’s raised over $75 Million for causes in 30 countries and trained leaders from over 1000 organizations in how to use a sales process to maximize funding opportunities. An entrepreneur, Nick started his first business while a student at the University of Notre Dame. Studying biology and philosophy, Nick would leave the labs early to make sales calls for his business – the first of its kind student social network – a precursor to facebook.com. After graduating, Nick and his business partners sold their business to focus on ‘scaled impact in the social sector’. Nick is passionate about family, social entrepreneurship, running, and all things web.

Interested in Speaking at StartingBloc? Please send your bio, and any related speaker videos to kristine@startingbloc.org.