News & Views

Inspiration, information, and perspectives from the LeadersTrust team and our partners

Theo Rigby

Reflection: Thinking Integration

Apr 4, 2024 | News

October 2023, the LeadersTrust program director, Maria Rogers Pascual, and executive director of Resilience Initiative, Janet Nami McIntyre, took a trip to Costa Rica to practice contemplative and mindfulness practices with a community of other nonprofits. In this interview, Janet Nami McIntyre gives us more insight on their trip and the wisdom her and Maria gained as they made connections with colleagues.

Tell us a little bit about this trip and how it came to be. 

Resilience Initiative and The LeadersTrust are part of a community of practice with other nonprofits who are integrating contemplative and mindfulness practices into their work, their organizations, and their communities. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation has a Contemplation, Insight, and Impact initiative (C2i) which aims “to strengthen the capacity for inner wellbeing and enhance organizational effectiveness of nonprofits working on the frontline of environmental and social change.” While we have been meeting every month in various subgroups and a larger community of practice for several months, we had not ever met in person, and therefore the Foundation convened us for a multi-day retreat in Costa Rica in mid-October 2023 to deepen our understanding about each other’s work and learn about ways we are finding that contemplative practices support diversity and equity efforts, and discuss ways we might strengthen the field with our reflections and learnings.

What was the group like?

It was wonderful to finally meet in person many folks who we had only met virtually. There were representatives from about a dozen U.S.-based nonprofits, international NGOs, and philanthropic foundations from Ford Foundation as well as of course the Ho Family Foundation. Colleagues traveled from the US, UK, Mexico, Panama, and from other regions of Costa Rica.

What were the best parts of the experience?

Besides being inspired by and learning from our colleagues who are all amazing, dedicated, brilliant, lovely people, staying in a Costa Rican cloud forest was amazing. Maria and I went on a night hike with an extremely knowledgeable naturalist with expertise in all things flora and fauna, and we saw a ton of creepy crawly things (snakes, huge spiders, lizard things I don’t know the names of anymore), it was beautiful to stand in the pitch darkness in the forest and listen to the rain fall, the birds, and all the night sounds of the cloud forest. Definitely outside of my comfort zone.

Also Maria led a fun, interactive movement activity one morning at the beautiful chapel on the grounds of the place we were staying.

How did the trip impact your work at the LeadersTrust?

My main goals were to build relationships with partners/colleagues and be inspired and learn more about how contemplation/mindfulness work is being integrated at other organizations. I gained all that and more!  Having dedicated, focused time with Maria was a treat and I think our partnership is even more trust-based and creative now than before!

Since then, I’m thinking more about integration – how does contemplation fit into more of what we do on a regular basis as opposed to something that happens off to the side, for select people we work with internally or even with the leaders and orgs we work with.