August 26, 2022

Reflections from Horizon’s 2022 staff retreat

Earlier this month, the Horizon team took some time out of the office to connect with each other at a staff retreat. Led by our terrific senior program director, Tiffany, the staff engaged in some deep conversations about how we work best as a team, how to tackle the challenges we are facing and how to achieve our personal and collective visions for the future. And, of course – we had a ton of fun together! Keep reading below for reflections from each staff member about the time together and the biggest takeaways from our conversations as we approach our next strategic plan.


Tiffany Erbelding, Senior Program Director: I loved how much fun we had. We had some great discussions about how we work together, our personal motivators for why we do the work that we do, and who we aspire to be as an organization. But we also laughed a lot, told a lot of jokes, and really enjoyed spending time together.

Stephanie Blades, Administrative Associate: I am grateful Horizon prioritizes team culture as a strong foundation to our work. I loved getting to know my coworkers on a deeper level. Visioning is hard work but important work. I’m looking forward to seeing how each one of our individual professional vision statements meld together to form a strong and inspiring organization vision statement.

Anne Brinker, Chief Operating Officer: I greatly enjoyed the vulnerable discussions. I could see those conversations building new dimensions of trust across the team. I left feeling even more excited about the next strategic plan having been in the room as our team laid the initial groundwork for our north star.

Nikki Highsmith Vernick, President & CEO: We are incredibly passionate about our mission and want to be focused on our north star. We are a very collaborative team that wants to create safe spaces, build trusting relationships, and innovate together. I enjoyed the time to build team, build culture and have fun together. It’s been a challenge to continue to build relationships with team and with community while still dealing with COVID!

Kerry Darragh, Communications Officer: It was great to come together and see how committed both staff and leadership are to our mission. You could feel how much everyone has bought in to our mission and our goals as an organization and keeps that top of mind. I really enjoyed seeing everyone’s passion for their work and for working collectively towards the same vision.

Cat Harmon, Director of Communications: I left the staff retreat with a sense of pride. Not only did we have great discussion and fellowship, but we weren’t afraid to be transparent and honest about where we are and where we are going. I appreciate that we are open about not having all the answers, not having everything figured out… BUT, we strive to get the answers and work through the hard stuff together. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for our team and the Horizon Foundation as a whole!

Janet Olajide, Fiscal Officer: My biggest takeaway from our discussions on team culture was the openness of the staff. Everyone shared their perceptions of the organizations so freely. I felt that the team spirit was very positive. The organization is mission driven and everyone is included in making it happen. There is a strong synergy between staff and leadership as well as a shared vision. I enjoyed the structure and thoughtful process in the organization of the retreat, the location, everyone’s ideas and the bonding time we were able to have.

Glenn Schneider, Chief Program Officer: It was refreshing and energizing to spend a couple days away with my amazing teammates to get to know each other better, discuss our joint vision for the years ahead, and learn how we can best “show up” to change the world. So proud to be a part of the Horizon team!!

Kenitra Fokwa, Senior Program Officer: The staff retreat was such an amazing experience. My favorite part was learning more about my colleagues. I enjoyed hearing funny stories from their childhood and about the experiences that have shaped their lives. During our time we got to focus on the things that matter to us as individuals and as an organization. The staff retreat reaffirmed our commitment to racial equity and I am excited about our journey forward.