Letter from our Executive Director, Annie-Rose London
dated October 29, 2016
The Berrett-Koehler Foundation (BKF) began in the fall of 2013 as an experiment —
what could a successful publishing company, a devoted community of authors, and
some idealistic young people do together to create a world that works for all? Now at the
culmination of our first three years in existence and the end of my first year directing the
BKF, we are still an experiment. And thank goodness for that! Our work is by necessity
experimental, as we are constantly iterating, responding to a changing environment, and
treading new territory with every step. As a young organization, we are just beginning to
find our footing, and we thank you for being an essential part of our path. Below are some
of the major highlights of the past year:
The BKF helps young, emerging, and experienced leaders create a world that works for
all. We connect leaders across generations to practice and master methods of leadership
that foster transformation to create collaborative organizations and communities. And
we are not alone. The BKF is part of a movement giving voice to a vision for more just,
more equitable, more participatory institutions. Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy calls it
“The Great Turning — the transition from a doomed economy of industrial growth to a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world.” Through our Action-Learning
Partnerships, we have teamed up with groups locally and internationally to raise
awareness about more inclusive, conscious leadership practices. For example, in our work
with E3: Education, Excellence and Equity, we have developed a curriculum to help nonprofits integrate Diversity and Equity consciousness into their general leadership
approach, removing the binary that Diversity and Leadership are two separate efforts.
The State of Our Programs
The BKF currently runs three programs — Leadership Exchanges, The Experiential
Exchange Program, and Action-Learning Partnerships. Leadership Exchanges are
intergenerational, participatory leadership workshops. This program actively involves
every participant, fostering a one-of-a-kind laboratory environment wherein individuals
can learn from each other. The Experiential Exchange Program is our mutual mentorship
program, connecting emerging and experienced leaders one-on-one. Action-Learning
Partnerships are how we “play” with like-minded organizations. We extend and enhance
the work of existing nonprofits and mission-aligned organizations. This takes many forms,
including supporting others in hosting their own Leadership Exchange gatherings.
One big change for us this year is a fuller whole-hearted commitment to our Design
Teams. In 2015, we challenged ourselves to embed our values of collaborative,
intergenerational leadership into every aspect of the event, including its design and
facilitation. Thus the Design Teams were born, which have taken on a life of their own.
Thirty-four leaders have participated so far. These intergenerational teams receive
training in collaboration and facilitation, with the opportunity to apply their learning
immediately. Experiential learning works, and we’ve been thrilled to see its
effectiveness in our own community.
What We Are Learning — People Need Connection
At the end of every program, we ask participants to share the most impactful aspect
of the day. We expected answers such as — “my new job connection!” or “the
wonderful presentation about such-and-such!” — yet, we have had a different sort of
response from every corner of our organization. What people love about the BKF is
the community. It’s the opportunity to be authentic, ambitious, and connected.
People are hungry for spaces where they can be themselves: to see and to be seen
fully. We have asked ourselves — is this a step away from focusing on leadership? Or is
this a revised understanding of leadership itself, where leadership is a process that
takes place in relationship? We don’t know the answer, but we do know that we
cannot turn away from the hunger for authentic connection. We look forward to
exploring this more in 2017.
Our Financial Support from a Broad Community
Over 250 authors, community members, and friends of Berrett-Koehler Publishers
have made generous donations to fund our non-profit organization. Berrett-Koehler
Publishers has continued its commitment to donate 10% of its pre-tax profit to the
BKF. The numbers mean everything — this broad community financial support is the
inspiration and the material nourishment for our existence.
Most of all, I have been given great hope by our committed and visionary participants.
You have filled our programs with laughter, tenderness, and an electricity that says
“The time is now.”
Thank you for being a part of the movement for a world that works for all!