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next 5-day LEO intensive retreats

new york

when: May 26th-29th, 2020

where: TBA

extra: TBA

folks who register before May 1st, 2020 (by 5pm) will be invited to participate in a survey to determine topics.


who: the colorado trust

retreat #1: April 29-May 1st

retreat #2: June 11-12th


embodied organizing

Embodied Organizing (EO) is a comprehensive model for community organizers, designed for both new and experienced organizers, that seeks to develop skills, with somatic and embodied leadership lenses, to develop effective organizers while uniquely cultivating leadership that creates necessary balance and self-care so organizers feel and are able to do movement work for the long haul.

experiential with the theoretical

The LEO Intensive, following in the tradition established by its creator, Rusia Mohiuddin, takes on a two-pronged approach in developing skilled organizers:
Theoretical learning of a broad set of organizing skills and healing, embodied leadership, and self-care methodologies; and
Deepening theoretical learning through application and practice to add a critical layer of experiential learning to deepen and enhance overall organizing knowledge.met, consectetur adipiscing elit.

centering embodied leadership

At universal partnership, we believe in espousing in character, action, & relationships, the values & principles at the core of our being. Embodied Leadership is the deep commitment to continuously cultivate leadership qualities acutely aligned with your values and principles towards developing and sustaining authentic relationships. We do this so we are acutely aligned with the core values that allow us to be who and how we want to be in the world.


skills + healing + self-care + mindfulness = balanced organizers

An overarching goal for the program includes the integration of practical skills that support organizers to create more balance and self-care into their work to ensure individuals are capable of doing social justice work for the long haul. Broadly, the integration of somatics into the framework of organizing will address this need as well as including contemplative learning and practices in each session of the intensive. The design and development of the program is geared to take the rich lessons from community organizing over the last 50 years and reimagine a program that deeply integrates somatics and contemplative practices into every facet of organizing work.

While the needs of each organization is different & UP shapes the work to meet these needs, there is often a common grounding all our work builds on.

For the LEO Intensive, the following goals are the grounding upon which all subsequent customized work is developed from:

  • New to seasoned organizers develop key skills necessary to perform grounded, balanced organizing work with greater efficiency & impact;
  • Organizers simultaneously learn contemplative skills & develop practices that support & guide their work towards balance & mature leadership; and
  • In combining theory with practice coupled with greater impact through self-care & balance, organizers develop healthy practices that allow for effective work over the long haul.

LEO Intensive: Structure

While the structure & the flow of the intensive can be adjusted to fit the needs of any organization, the following is the standard & ideal structure for a LEO Intensive cohort:

  • minimum 2 months of planning & prep with leads at the organization
  • launch intensive with a 3-day overnight retreat
  • weekly daylong LEO trainings for 8 consecutive weeks
  • graduation & celebrations

This will be the structure for the Spring 2019 LEO launch.

Some of the principles that guide the work of UP and what we will achieve through the LEO intensive includes Rusia’s Embodied Leadership methodology which asserts:

  • Internal development only for the sole purpose of external impact does not lead to long-term change;
  • Focusing on changing you is what allows any of us to authentically change the world; and,
  • Authentic, long-term change cannot be birthed from old patterns that are shaped by the very systems we seek to change.

The LEO Intensive is, in short, impactfully intense

The LEO Intensive will develop the skills of organizers that are required to shape individuals to be the absolute best version of themselves they can be personally and as organizers. The following is a list of skills organizers will develop over the course of the intensive:

  • History of community organizing + other social change methodologies
  • Roles + responsibilities of an organizer
  • Understanding power dynamics
  • Effective base building + outreach
  • Effective 1:1 Meetings
  • Somatic leadership development
  • Effective meeting facilitation
  • Time management
  • Develop goal-oriented work plans
  • Somatic campaign develop
  • Developing campaign plans
  • Somatic development of media + messaging
  • Direct action + events
  • Arts in organizing + puppet making
  • Public speaking
  • Grassroots fundraising
  • Coalition + movement building

self-awareness & deep focus for the win

The integration of somatics, embodied leadership, and contemplative practices into a community organizing framework, all interwoven into skills development, offers the critical components required to cultivate the kind of leaders that are skilled and grounded to catalyze real change in local communities without compromise or sacrifice.

The LEO intensive has created pathways for organizers to gain proven effective community organizing skills sets that center their humanity, while not losing focus on effectiveness, impact, and efficiency of the work that serves the most disenfranchised communities.

Geared for social change agents, the mind your gap video is a step-by-step how-to on meditation tool for developing leadership superpowers. This methodology was developed by Rusia Mohiuddin, specifically with organizers in mind.

Play Video

watch mind the gap

healing requires alignment + balance

Practicing & cultivating alignment of our core values with our thoughts & actions, along with real, generative balance, allows us to be in a constant state of healing. This critical for organizers, as more and more of us live the very issues we organizer around.

Rusia has innovated a methodology for embodied leadership that invites us to explore what values & principles are in their individual, organizational & community’s “core”. This understanding can lead the way to cultivating the kind of leadership necessary for their social change work to succeed while ensuring that those doing the work are living aligned and balanced lives in the field & at home.


Like meditation, this “core” work is at the center of embodied leadership & therefore at the center of developing effective organizers. We use this work to ensure LEO organizers are living & creating pathways to be who and how they want to be in the world.

Play Video

building the core

we need one another. we need all of us

Organizing & movement work can oddly be very isolating. The LEO Intensive creates a community of organizers, who develop & grow together, resulting in lifelong friendships & support systems.

Evidence shows that as social justice leaders sacrifice physical & emotional health to serve vulnerable communities, they find themselves unhappy & dissatisfied with the conditions in which they work, their work process & the results & impact of their work.

The LEO community is designed to build safety nets of support for each organizer so folks dont have to create or seek out support in the midst of crises, it’s already built in & available.

LEO organizers will also have a community of coaches, trained in Embodied Coaching, to support them in their development & change process.


rusia mohiuddin

master trainer

Rusia N. Mohiuddin, based in New York, is a master trainer/facilitator & somatic coach who pioneered the integration of somatics into an organizing framework. Her current mission, through UP, has been developing a holistic model for social justice change work that places in its center the necessary transformation of social change agents. Rusia brings a unique style to creating pathways for individuals to bring their best selves forward when enacting social change in their organizations & communities.

Rusia has developed a model for community organizing, called Embodied Organizing, and a model for coaching, called Embodied Coaching. She uses both in her teacher-training program, Warriors for Embodied Liberation (WEL), students of which serve as apprentices for all practicing justice retreats.

WEL Student-Teachers

WEL Coaches

Warriors for Embodied Liberation (WEL) is a teacher-training program of universal partnership, designed and facilitated by rusia mohiuddin. WEL is a 2-year program that guides participants in a intense change process as the grounding to learning Embodied Coaching and training.

Second year participants, student-teachers, will serve as the coaches for LEO participants.

program cost

sliding scale for every organization

The staff of the LEO Intensive have a combined 63 years or experience. Given this, the value of the program costs UP $7000|per participant. In order to make this training accessible to every organization, we have developed the following sliding scale based on organizational budget:

annual org budget is >$500k


annual org budget is $501-999k


annual org budget is <$1M




LEO pilot program began in 2015 and lasted for 3 years. the official launched was 2019. below are all the LEO cohorts to date.

gossip... and it's all true!