Communications Built to Inspire Change
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The Future Sessions: Building Strategy, Leadership and Direction

August 18-21, 2019 | Chester, Connecticut

The August Future Sessions is now sold out.

Check back soon for details about our upcoming January 2020 session.

This special bootcamp serves leaders and emerging leaders desiring to focus intensively on strategic communications, leadership, and goal-setting in the higher education and nonprofit sectors. Because of the personalized nature of this program, enrollment is limited to eight. The first session in summer of 2018 included leaders from private liberal arts colleges, public and private universities, and independent schools from California to New Jersey. Read feedback from last year’s participants.


This action-oriented program is built to serve you whether you are seeking to become more strategic in your work, facing difficult communications issues at your campus or nonprofit, or desiring a chance to get renewed among devoted communications peers. Through a guided process by which everyone drafts a custom-built communications plan for their own specific needs—whether for an institution, a department, or an upcoming challenge—we explore together a range of critical issues related to strategic success. You will have time to think, even as you work with focus on your strategy.


Our profession has changed dramatically over the last decade, for many reasons, from public pressures to technology. Communications has grown, and is often looked to as a source of solutions. In a context of such demands, strategy is easy to put aside in favor of tactic after tactic. “We'll get to it another day,” can often prevail. If, however, the tremendous energy, ideas, and passions of a creative team are to be spent no matter whatand they will behow much better to have them sharing a common aim. Communications strategy done right moves step by step toward a shared institutional identity, a desired organizational reputation, and the kind of common mission that inspires the hearts and minds of those involved—and those the communications reach.

Pete Mackey, Ph.D.

Pete Mackey, Ph.D.


Pete Mackey, Ph.D., has developed his expertise in institutional planning, communications strategies, campaign communications, team-building, and the tools of campus communications across 30 years in leadership roles at private and public institutions in the U.S. and Europe. As the top communications executive at Amherst College, Bucknell University, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Science Foundation Ireland, and the University of South Carolina, he built transformative communications operations and, through comprehensive communications strategies, defined and re-shaped how these institutions connect with their audiences.


  • How do we connect our professional priorities with our own passions?

  • How can we engage the many talented people who are critical to our team’s success?

  • What are the fundamental questions that we have to answer to keep our work on track?

  • What listening approaches will help win over doubters?

  • How do we keep our motivation and inspiration through the obstacles that arise in sticking to strategic goals?

At the same time, the immersive nature of this program helps participants:

  • Build a new professional network of special depth with fellow attendees.

  • Have fun and take a calming breath outside of daily demands, including through select outdoor experiences connected to the goals of the program.


Sunday, August 18–Wednesday, August 21, 2019.


The Guest House Retreat and Conference Center in Chester, Connecticut, a beautiful and peaceful setting located beside a national forest and only 15 minutes from the ocean. 


All-inclusive fee: $2,400. The fee covers the bootcamp, all materials and activities, all meals, all 3 nights at the Guest House, and a special team dinner on Monday night.


Sunday, Aug. 18: Strategic Thinking

  • Arrive by Dinner

  • Team Dinner

  • What and Why Introductions Exercise

  • Connecting Strategy and Identity

  • Forward from Here

Monday, Aug. 19: Idea to Action

  • Outdoor Activity

  • Landscape and Horizons Exercises

  • Deep Dive into Direction

  • The Strategy Begins

  • Dinner with Daring Dialogue

Tuesday, Aug. 20: Action to Implementation

  • Leadership Activity

  • Drawing Out Resistance Exercises

  • Managing Difficult Conversations

  • The Strategy Takes Shape

  • Bonfire

Wednesday, Aug. 21: Testing through Teamwork

  • Presentations of Draft Strategy to Group

  • Team Feedback

  • Setting Your Goal

  • Depart after Lunch