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Historical Lessons, Leadership for Today

October 7, 2019

Join the Senior Executives Association (SEA) as it partners with the George Washington Leadership Institute (GWLI), The Clearing and the Robertson Foundation for Government to bring SEA members and the federal community a full day of professional development discussion, training and networking.

What: Historical Lessons, Leadership for Today

When: October 7, 2019

Time: 9:00am-6:30 pm

Location: George Washington Leadership Institute at Mount Vernon

For an agenda and registration information, click here.

This training and development session will explore specific practices and approaches to strategy, leadership, management and team building through the historical lessons of George Washington presented by GWLI instructors. These in-depth sessions will be followed by sessions with The Clearing delving in to how leaders today can look to the roles the framers of the Constitution played in the beginning of our Nation and use those lessons and strategies as part of their leadership toolkit. Classes will be rounded out with a tour of the George Washington Presidential Library, Mount Vernon and capped with a networking reception.

This event is open to SEA members and non-members. Registration is limited to 60 participants maximum. Please share the information with colleagues.

SEA members receive a discount on registrations fees ($250 for SEA members, $350 for non-members).


Proposed Schedule

9:00-9:30 am – Arrival and Breakfast
9:30-10:45 am – George Washington Leadership Institute Session
10:45-11:00 am – Break
11:00-12:00 pm – SEA / The Clearing Session
12:00-1:00 pm – Lunch
1:00-1:30 pm – Tour of Rare Books and Manuscripts Room
1:30-2:30 pm – George Washington Leadership Institute Session
2:30-2:45 pm – Break
2:45-3:45 pm – SEA / The Clearing Session
3:45-5:00 pm – Tour of Mount Vernon Mansion
5:00-6:30 pm – Networking Reception sponsored by the Robertson Foundation for Government

About the George Washington Leadership Institute:

GWLI programing uses historical case-studies from the life of George Washington to showcase timeless best practices in leadership and management. Its state-of-the-art facilities also provide a space for current policy leaders to examine and discuss the most relevant issues leaders face today. All of this is provided in a unique landscape that promotes introspection and collaboration.
Click here to learn more about the George Washington Leadership Institute

GWLI Presenters:

Peter Cressy

Peter Cressy, Ed.D., RADM (Ret.), is the Co-director of the Leadership Institute. He served 28 years in the United States Navy in command and senior staff positions, followed by 8 years in higher education as a college president and university chancellor - where he was also a tenured professor of management. He later served 16 years as the President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council trade association.

Joseph Stoltz

Joseph Stoltz, Ph.D., is Co-director of the George Washington Leadership Institute. He previously was a member of the United States Military Academy Department of History. He studies the integration of the Continental Army and its French allies during the American War of Independence. 

GWLI Session Descriptions:

Washington's Integrated Approach to Strategy, Leadership, and Management

Utilizing specific examples from George Washington’s military and political career, this program explores the components of a successful strategy and the importance of fully integrating it with the best principles of leadership and management.

Team Building and Team Leadership the George Washington Way

This module focuses on Washington's approach to building and managing teams, and explores both his time as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army but also his establishment of the executive branch of the Federal Government.

About The Clearing:

The Clearing is a management consulting firm that helps leaders identify underlying causes of organizational obstacles. They help create peak performance organizations through strategy development, change management, and leadership training. The Clearing believes their clients can solve problems, make an impact, and drive sustainable changes utilizing the fewest, most exceptional people – all within the constraints of finite resources and time.

Click here to learn more about The Clearing

The Clearing Session Descriptions:

In times of uncertainty and disagreement on how to create better outcomes and performance, understanding how to problem solve becomes critical.  Using cookie cutter approaches and generalized best practices can actually burn scarce resources without producing the results you need. The Clearing, Inc. brings together glimpses from the past with research from today’s most forward-facing companies and federal agencies to suggest better ways of problem solving through adaptive space principles and approaches. 

Part 1: Principles of Adaptive Space 

Adaptive space addresses how leaders bridge the gap between needing to innovate quickly while honoring the needs and original design of federal organizations. Leveraging examples from the founding of our nation, The Clearing will facilitate a conversation to gain a better understanding of how you can respect both speed and tradition through a shared understanding of the emergent research into adaptive space. Participants will leave with a better understanding of adaptive space principles and how these powerful ideas can help spark higher performance in federal space. 

Part 2: Adaptive Space Application across the Federal Landscape 

Adaptive space provides us a unique lens with which to view our organizations. It offers applied practices that we can experiment with in order to overcome challenges and barriers within bureaucratic environments. Leveraging examples from our nation’s history, The Clearing will facilitate an interactive workshop for participants to apply and better understand adaptive space principles with partners across the federal landscape. 

The Clearing Presenters:

Tara Carcillo, President and Chief Executive Officer

As President and CEO of The Clearing, I am responsible for managing and growing the firm to become one of Washington D.C.’s premiere strategy and design consultancies. I am accountable for operations, business growth, employee development, corporate strategy, and overall company health. I have nearly 15 years of experience as a professional in whole systems design, enterprise transformation, systems modeling, facilitation, and leadership development.

As a consultant, I have supported leaders in the United States Air Force, World Bank, General Services Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, American Red Cross, Small Business Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Administrative Office of the Courts, along with various associations. I have a particular interest in workplace strategy. In addition to my consulting work, I served directly in the public and higher education sectors.

I received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Washington College, and I hold a Master of Arts in Whole Systems Design and Organizational Systems Renewal from Antioch University.

Sharon Benjamin, Senior Principal

As a Senior Principal, I support leaders seeking to effect profound transformation within themselves, their organizations, and their communities. I have over 25 years of experience in creating authentic, wide engagement in change projects, and have designed and led evaluation and change management efforts across multiple sectors.

I have served as a trusted advisor to senior leaders in health care, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations. Notable clients include the Administrator of the General Services Administration, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Gates Foundation, National Association of Counties, American Society for Public Administration, Population Council, and several regional healthcare institutions.

For 12 years I taught the Leadership Capstone for the Executive Master of Public Administration program at New York University, and for the last two have been on the faculty of the Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics (MSOD) program at the University of Pennsylvania. I have served on the boards of over two-dozen nonprofit organizations including Plexus Institute,, American Oceans Campaign, Earthworks, the advisory board of Oceana. I was also a co-founder of EarthShare, a national environmental fund-raising federation that has raised more than $300 million since its inception. I have also authored several publications, most recently Unexpected Gifts: Solve Tough Problems with Adaptive Positive Deviance and our team also received recognition in the New York Times for application of Positive Deviance in healthcare as an “outstanding idea”.


I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Political Science from Taylor University, a Master of Public Administration from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from The Union Institute & University.