The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rocky Leadership Fellows Dedicate a Weekend to Program Retreat

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The Rockefeller Leadership Fellows retreat was held at Lake Morey Resort on October 1 - 3, 2010.  The weekend kicked off on Friday night with a session led by renowned vocal trainer, Dr. Susan Miller.  An integral part of Dr. Miller's workshop was the self-assessment that Fellows completed prior to the retreat.  Already thinking about their strengths and weaknesses as public speakers, the Fellows had five minutes to each prepare a one minute speech on a topic of their choice.  Themes covered everything from athletics to the environment to philosophy, and Dr. Miller was excited to provide individual advice on areas of improvement.  After the session Fellows gathered for a social hour and an exciting talent showcase.

Saturday morning opened with presentations in pairs on the ideas presented in Leadership on the Line.  Fellows presented the main concepts and examples of the text, while their peers recorded feedback on their delivery and presentation.  Next up for the group was Harvard Kennedy School Professor Brian Mandell.  Mandell opened his session on negotiation by defining for Fellows that negotiation is "the art of letting other people have it your way."  Intense small-group discussions drawn from a real life scenario taught Fellows about their own negotiation styles and about some of the pitfalls of group conflict.

After lunch Fellows put to use their insight gleaned in previous sessions during a realistic simulation of a multi-party negotiation.  The exercise was based on the proposal of Seeport, a fictional company, to develop a port on the coast of our state.  Fellows represented a variety of interest groups ranging from the environmental lobby to the union to various government actors.  After strategizing with colleagues they entered into negotiations lasting nearly two hours.  In the end, although not every actor was fully satisfied with the outcome, Fellows had a better understanding of the art of negotiation.  Conversations from the highly effective workshop carried over well into dinner.  The retreat concluded with another talent show and time for much deserved relaxation.  Fellows and presenters alike left Lake Morey the next morning with fond memories and invaluable lessons on public speaking, negotiation, and leadership!

-- Karen Doster '11

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences