Ask an Expert July 2019

Ask an Expert

How can Certified Masters, Certified-Masters-in-Training, Certified Facilitators, and others inspire and learn from each other beyond The Leadership Challenge® annual community gatherings?

A: One way is to host an amazing, energetic, collaborative, and terrifically fun conclave—like the event that happened recently in North Texas! Unlike some closed-door conclaves, however, participants in this event all willingly and generously shared their tools, knowledge and secrets to benefit others.

Cool things began to happen on the very first value-packed day of learning, designed and hosted by Certified Masters Tom Pearce and Renee Harness. Through breakouts, activities, and lively discussions we all learned that we had much to offer, and yet, we had even more to learn from our colleagues. From success stories to tips and techniques—and everything in between—some of the highlights included:
  • Best-practice sessions on hosting successful Masters Give Back Programs (Tom Pearce), program design (Lawandra Smith, Steve Lawson, Karen Atwell), and adding day-to-day behaviors and actions to refine your vision message (Renee Harness, Denise McDonald). 

  • Michael Curtis and Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott focused on techniques for bringing storytelling to the next level, and Ron Siers and Greg Allen inspired and challenged us to bring the power of The Student Leadership Challenge® to the next generation. 

  • Amy Dunn introduced an activity using Ubunto cards that is great for groups at the beginning of any workshop to prompt communication and information sharing, while Karen Atwell showed us how to bring our values to the table—literally using a Mason Jar to display our Values and LPI® Action cards, and our leadership philosophy.

  • In a session titled Experiential Exercises That Kill, KJ Jenison’s Second City skills were on full display as he engaged the group in two energizing activities: Passing the Hand Clap and Statues. 
As we gathered at the end of this motivational day for dinner, the uplifting conclave experience continued when we were joined by Jim Kouzes and inspired by the thoughts and encouragement he shared. But that was just a prelude for the following day. That’s when we gathered together—now as a group of 48 aspiring leaders, facilitators, and coaches—for a half-day Master Class session delivered by Jim and hosted at First Command Financial Service by Karen Atwell, Vice President of Talent Development. Jim spoke on the topic of How Leadership Drives Engagement, sharing historical information on how the research on The Five Practices model and the relationship with his co-creator Barry Posner began, as well as current research. Throughout, Jim Modeled, Inspired, Challenged, Enabled and Encouraged us all.

The entire session left the group excited about what they had experienced together—to Connect, Reflect and Grow. Nik Curnell said of the conclave and the Jim Kouzes presentation, “This was one of the most eye-opening experiences in my entire leadership journey. I left the event with so many valuable tools to add to my tool box.” It also left all of us wanting more, a sentiment best captured by Vaundee Arnold in her note to Jim: “You’re absolutely right, ‘…to be good is not enough, when you dream of being great!’ The infusion of The Leadership Challenge we received has re-lit the path for us and we look forward with great liberation and excitement to OUR next Personal BEST.”

If you are interested in hosting a similar event for the Leadership Challenge enthusiasts in your circle of influence, please contact Tom Pearce or Renee Harness. They will be happy to share their formula for hosting your own conclave-type event.

Vaundee Arnold
is a long-time practitioner of The Leadership Challenge®, piloting the program at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and now bringing it to Whataburger LLC as an Organization and Talent Development Manager. Aspiring to change the hearts and minds of leaders wherever she can, she can be reached at

Nik Curnell,
A 25-veteran of service with the U.S. Army, is a Certified Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® and a Leadership Instructor with the Dallas TX Leadership Development Center, Department of Homeland Security. He can be reached at

Denise McDonald
is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® and a Senior Consultant with iLead Consulting & Training. Formerly a member of the Leadership and Management Team for the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, her background includes over 40 years of experience helping leaders, teams, and families make better lives for themselves. She can be reached at



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