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North America Leadership Jam 2018

The JAM is waiting for you!


The North America Leadership Jam brings together 30 changemakers from across North America (Canada, Mexico, the US, and the Caribbean) for a seven-day deep dive, exploring the connections between self-awareness, group evolution, and systemic change. The Jam is a place for people to bring their unique stories, hopes, struggles, questions, and life experiences, have them heard, seen, and held, and to build relationships, partnerships, and community, on that foundation of openness and possibility.

Some of us are seeking reminders that somehow, as individuals, we can do something.  We need to know we are not alone, that hope and change is not only possible but that it’s already happening. Everywhere, people who’ve been told they’re “ordinary” are rising to meet the challenges of our times. Over six million people attended the 2018 Women’s March. Following the shooting that happened in their school, Parkland teens and the March for Our Lives have leveraged their power to force some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies to withdraw support from the National Rifle Association. The American Civil Liberties Union’s membership has quadrupled in the past year. After Mexico’s earthquakes, people banded together to support Mexico City and other affected communities.  They didn’t wait for the government; they did it themselves.

The Jam brings together activists and world changers of all kinds to co-create the experiences of the new world we want to build together. It’s like a music Jam for people singing a new song for the world. We are Jamming every time we choose connection over fragmentation, every time we honor the land and the people around us, every time we choose vulnerability over stoicism, when our habits align with the preservation and regeneration of the Earth, all living beings, and the ecosystem.  When we are here, together, now.

Join us for the North America Leadership Jam, September 9-16, 2018, in the beautiful redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.



YES! Jams bring together creativity, co-learning, and collaboration for social change. When musicians get together to “jam,” they get to share their unique skills and knowledge, as well as learn from the other musicians. They get to hear and experience other styles of music while expanding their own horizons. They are also able to have fun, build community, and use their individual talent, inspiration and skills to create something far greater than the sum of its parts. When musicians improvise, they create music that no one has ever heard before. YES! Jams do the same for people changing the world.

Jams have a unique, co-creative facilitation team, and the engine of the jam will be your questions, your wisdom, your challenges and your curiosity. We will co-create. We will jam!


For the past 28 years, YES! has organized 150+ weeklong camps and Jams with people from 85 countries, and continues to curate spaces where inspiring young and intergenerational change-makers can build community, forge alliances, and become equipped with tools for personal, interpersonal and systemic transformation.

If you are active in organizations or movements working toward a just, sustainable and thriving future; willing to ask big questions and hold paradox with an open, loving heart, you are invited to apply. Partial scholarships are available.

Are you:

  • Hungry to build bridges across divides within yourself and across relationships and communities?
  • Committed to using your resources and leveraging your privileges in alignment with your values?
  • Overwhelmed with options and not sure how to create the change you want to see in the world effectively?
  • Wondering how to deepen your understanding of what positive impact even is?
  • Interested in shedding guilt and paralysis and ready to rethink what power means for you?
  • Seeking a healthy relationship to your gifts, skills and resources?


We’re in a unique and powerful moment. There is a call for ideological and political interventions to bring transformation, justice and equity to situations that are thoroughly unjust – from barring Muslims’ entry to the US, to #BlackLivesMatter, to violence against and deportion of immigrants, to the undeniable rupture of democracy in the US, to the dismantling of environmental protections, and so much more.

The Jam is an opportunity to explore new pathways, internally, interpersonally and systemically, to meet this moment.  It’s a chance for us to come together, learn, draw from our commonalities and heal across our divides to be able to bring all of who we are to the table to create a vision of the world in which we want to live.  Why? Because we are at a Tipping Point. Because the time for holding back is gone. Because in order to rise to the challenges we’re facing, it’s going to take all of us.


Jams focus on three interdependent levels of awareness:


The Jam is a place to share and reflect on your life journey and your work in the world. It is also an opportunity to grow in self-knowledge.  


We come together to deepen in our understanding of each other and of ourselves in the intention of building trust and friendship in a meaningful way. We feel that the more authentic our relationships are, the stronger the foundations on which new collaborations and synergies within our movements and communities are built. Cultivating a deeper understanding of our many-layered identities is a key part of how we can build a more resilient, interconnected web of transformation.


The Jam gives us time to become clearer about our vision and our work in the world; we get a chance to link issues that aren’t commonly linked, to notice crucial intersection points in a manner that will aid us in reimagining what we believe to be possible and reengineering how we intend to get there.  We hope it will enable each participant to deepen their capacity to effect change and carry their dreams forward.

Location, Travel and Costs of Attending

The North America Leadership Jam will take place at the Ben Lomond Quaker Center, near Santa Cruz, CA. Participants will share rooms in doubles and triples, and delight in delicious, nutritious, primarily plant-based food, for the Jam, prepared by Roger Feely of Soul Cocina.

Travel costs are the responsibility of the participants, though we will help in arranging carpools from the Bay Area and nearby airports, like San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.

The tuition for the program is $1100 which breaks down into $600 for lodging, food, materials, and local transport and $500 for program (childcare, stipends for organizers and facilitators).  We invite you to consider a $600 minimum tuition payment, which can be made over monthly installments if desired.

We never want money to be a barrier in participating in a Jam, so we will do everything we can to make it work for you to attend.
 Some partial scholarships and work trades may be available. We also can create a flexible monthly payment plan that works for you. Additional donations above the event price are welcome and help us provide scholarships to support the broad spectrum of participation on which this event thrives (they are also tax-deductible).


Who Is Putting the North America Jam together?

Meet the Organizing and Facilitation Team!

Photo on 7-4-13 at 11.46 AM #3Lillian Hanan Al-Bilali has been inspired to deepen her understanding of how diverse communities can become more interconnected and, particularly, how shared experiences create space for dialogue — ever since she participated in the 2010 Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jam. Since her college years, one of her most consistent passions has been issues of youth empowerment. Her student activism at Hampton University focused on societal inequalities especially in regards to substandard education and high incarceration rates for youth of color. Following graduation, Hanan became an administrator at Children’s Arts and Science Workshops (CASW), a non-profit agency in New York City. Here, she mentored young people from the Washington Heights and Harlem communities by preparing them for college and for the work force. Currently living in New York City, Hanan received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan. Her concentration in Social Policy and Evaluations allowed her to focus on strengthening services offered through the non-profit sector at the state and local levels. She continues to make people her priority as a committed collaborator with organizations and initiatives that support underrepresented communities.


Mónica Carreño Villegas is passionate about learning, inner growth and to assist others to unveil their true essence. Monica’s heart belongs to facilitation and her gift is to connect. She has organized TEDx events and has facilitated for storytelling, teambuilding, and personal development processes for companies, schools and organizations; from Santander Bank to NGOs like Kellog Foundation, to high schools and universities like Universidad Panamericana in Mexico. She had the opportunity to live in Chicago, Australia and Nigeria and today she is part of collective movements like the Art of hosting and evolution to transcend. Now a day she is working in her life Project DREAM: a self-discovery journey on education with children and youth, a firm believer that if you plant a seed in a heart, you change that world. She is currently immersing on Narrative Practices, a respectful approach to counseling and community work that holds the story as the basic unit of experience.


Austin WillacyAustin Willacy is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter who has toured extensively throughout the U.S and Europe as a member of The House Jacks, a multi-award winning a cappella rock band featured on The Sing-Off on NBC and on Monday Night Football on ESPN. He is the director of ‘Til Dawn, Youth in Arts’ award-winning teen a cappella group and has facilitated over 35 youth retreats. Austin has also co-facilitated four Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jams for YES! and served on the board of Rainforest Action Network for four years and is in his sixth year of service on the board of the Freight & Salvage. He donates his musical talent to a wide range of educational, social and environmental organizations.


305278_10150359822245140_747470139_10190432_242988494_nShilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years working as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India. Shilpa has researched, written numerous books and articles, facilitated workshops and hosted gatherings on topics ranging from globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. She had been the main coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network for five years. She is passionate about dance and music, organic and natural farming, upcycling and zero waste living, asking appreciative questions and being in community. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature.



Photo on 3-26-14 at 3.32 PM #2Will Grant was the co-founder and Executive Director for 10 years of BLAST, a multicultural organization that developed networks of leaders from marginalized communities to democratize education and social service systems in New Mexico. He was the national trainer for VALUE, developing democratic education systems in 10 states. He just left a gig on the other side of the class divide, working at a progressive High School to teach the children of privilege how to use their social position to design a world that integrates environmental regeneration, multiculturalism and participatory democracy. His current project is the Community Pungwe, a yearly gathering of change makers to integrate our work in ecology, the arts, law, education, spirituality, healing, and body-mind consciousness. The Pungwe develops networks to generate a new culture and the systems to make the world just, beautiful and a lot more fun.



5516Ashoka Finley works on issues concerning energy, food, and sustainability community scale. He works both locally and internationally in an effort to find shared best practices. In his life and projects, he seeks to connect diverse groups of people along common lines with dialogue and inclusiveness. His dedication to the empowerment and liberation of all people makes him determined to develop greater capacity within himself to be open and caring in every endeavor in his life.



JAM Photo AThrough her work with Seeds of Peace, Sarah Brajtbord is deeply committed to working with and empowering young people to find their voice, discover their passion, and live a life of meaning. Finding conflict as an opportunity for growth and breakthrough and recognizing that community and systemic change starts with the self, Sarah strives to lead a life of curiosity, patience, honesty, and presence, finding strength in community and continuously working to deepen her knowledge and understanding of the world around her. Working with young people is a privilege and responsibility that demands accountability to one’s own process of self-reflection and growth, and Sarah is grateful for the inspiring community of JAM-mers who have already begun pushing her further along her path.



Any questions?  Write to yesnorthamericajam@gmail.com




What a gift, through, not just to talk about sustainability and community care but to get to live it for a week, to actually feel it in my bones and in my soul. Without that lived experience, a lot of conversations I’ve been having on the issue of helping movement builders remain healthy and joy-filled would remain in the realm of speculation.  I have met people – both younger and older – where wisdom will shape both the pace and very fabric of the work I am doing. I am so grateful to have them now as a permanent part of my accountability and support network…. I am so grateful.”

– Sandhya Jha, 37, Executive Director, Oakland Peace Center, Oakland, CA



“I thought I had to be angry to do social justice work, and I did not know who I would even be without it. Now I know. I let go of so much anger, most of which was actually anger at myself. When I let go of that anger, I created space in myself to feel things I wasn’t letting myself feel: love, whole, happy, enough.”

– Greg Barker, 27, Seeds of Peace and Interfaith Works of CNY, Syracuse, NY



“I’m leaving for home full of hope, love, and healing. My time here has been transformational. I know that I’m showing up today as a better version of myself: receiving love, releasing toxins, and healing wounds. In this way, I shine brighter in the world, can share my gifts more fully, and act with compassion and love in a bigger way. I was welcomed, fully supported, held, and loved through each moment–my gratitude is deep and lasting. Connections spanning time, space, and place. Collective healing. Sharing grief. The feeling of enoughness. My self, my family, my beloveds, my work will all be touched by my experience here. Rippling, rippling, rippling.”

– Shay MacMullin, 40, Gaelic language and culture activist, Nova Scotia, Canada



The North America Jam has been a deeply moving and transformative experience for me. The Jam provided me the space to explore my internal capacities while providing me the tools needed to expand my interpersonal capacities. This process was made possible by being held in a loving community, which empowers and has equipped me to take these skills out in the world and my work.”  

– Isaac Graves, 24, International Coordinator, IDEC 2013, and President of The Patchwork School Board of Directors, Boulder, CO



I have done activism work, and I have done beloved community. Never before have I experienced a beloved community of activists. Thank you for believing and trusting so deeply in human beings.”

– Laura Paskell-Brown, 35, doula, San Francisco, CA



Something happens from the very beginning of a Jam that allows invisible barriers to melt away. Individuals who were strangers days or only hours before feel comfortable exchanging in ways that normally require years to foster. Relationships cultivated through this magic are imprinted with trust and respect and authenticity seldom found in public, professional and even social circles. YES! inspires the intellect, body and creative spirit. This is a space of refuge, rejuvenation, refinement and mobilization. I have received innumerable blessings in sharing this space with 30 members of my new Jamily. The network of people established this week and amongst all Jam alumni harbors an unparalleled potential for leveraging change in the world.”

– Seth Lennon Weiner, 23, Law and Restorative Justice student, Canyon Country, CA



Living in such a crazy world, we all carry so much unnecessary baggage that the Jam unpacks. Healing and growing hurts but it is so necessary, and it is great to be able to go through it in such a loving community.”

– Kazu Haga, 31, Founder, Positive Peace Warrior Network, Oakland, CA



Blessed to witness such a powerful example of people coming together and cultivation enough love to hold the hard conversations and interactions necessary for change.  The Jam has given me renewed energy and a deeper sense of my own strength and vision moving forward. I have witnessed sweet expressions of love and concrete examples of the work it takes to be in community working towards justice with one another. I am so excited to carry back all the love and learning from the Jam to my loved ones, friends and family, the young people who I spend my days with and my community as a whole. I am honoured to be part of the Jamily.”

– Jessie Workman, 28, Youth Shelters, Santa Fe, NM



Because of the different styles and diversity within the leadership team, I felt a sense of safety and trust was built in a way that allowed many different types of expressions and identity- All being welcomed…I felt affirmed and came away with a renewed sense of joy and commitment to way work and life as a cultural change maker and advocate for regenerative healing work in my community. So much love!”

– Angela Sevin, 50, Co-founder, The Green Life, Oakland, CA



I learned about love and embodiment and healing and vulnerability. I learned about magic and redwood forest and eye contact. I have never felt so fully seen in my entire life.”

– Giselle Castaño, 28, educator/teacher, New York City, NY



“…I feel so ready to return to my ideas and projects and communities with this sense of gentleness, compassion, ferocity, connection, power, and love. My spirit is nourished, my mind is stretched, my body is renewed; you have given me tools to build houses of justice, and spirit to make them homes. You have given me bread and roses. Thank you, Jam, for everything. To the start of our friendship / kinship / comradeship!”

– Margaret Mary Downey, 29, Labor Union Organizer, Oakland, CA


“1.5 years ago, I thought I had figured out how to deeply support myself and others in this life, taking into account the systemic and cultural realities as well. What I have found in the Jam is the ability to move myself, my relationships, and my communities in the deepest and most close/vulnerable way possible; I’ve found a community that empowers and supports my work at these levels, and I’ve come away further centered by how to transform these elements  within systems and our society holistically, compassionately and powerfully. You allowed me to finally integrate in the present, my own sense of self/story, my ancestors, and my future to bring to fruition what I, communities and this world is capable of.”

– Hasan Bhatti, 30, Ashoka, Washington, DC


“The fact that 30 strangers can come to love and see each other after only seven days of working and healing is an incredibly powerful idea. And what seems to make this possible is a profound trust in every human´s ability to change and capacity for compassion of self, others, and the world. Thank you for blessing me with the opportunity to learn my own potential and to be inspired by people from so many different walks of life. In my heart of hearts, I knew that love can overcome the deepest of pains and sorrows, but to bear witness to the process of mending wounds, both mine and others, is like seeing nature breathe. You have empowered me with the calm and courage to carry forward the practices of this beloved community into other spaces, and no words can describe my gratitude for that offering.”

– Anuj Shah, 25, Privacy Analyst, Portland, Oregon


Apply Now

(partial scholarships available)

Any questions?  Write to yesnorthamericajam@gmail.com