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Not Your Average Staff Retreat: A Total Blast with Mounds of Bacon

Not Your Average Staff Retreat: A Total Blast with Mounds of Bacon

By Marcia Quackebush, MS, MFT, MCHES | March 6, 2017
Senior Editor, ETR

Bringing people together can make a world of difference. ETR just finished up our 2017 All-Staff Retreat, and yes, it was a challenge getting everyone into one room for a day. Our workforce is distributed around the state of California and across the nation.

But it was also, in the words of one staffer, “a blast!” We reviewed our history. We got to talk face-to-face with colleagues we’ve previously only seen during online meetings. We talked about our vision for the future and how we could collaborate more effectively to achieve our mission.

Distinctly Different

Okay. That’s standard fare for a staff retreat, I know. What made it different was that our event facilitators—part of ETR’s stellar professional development team—are some of the best on the planet. Our new CEO, Vignetta Charles, brings an energetic and bold plan for our future. Our staff is thrilled to be re-connecting to a mission we believe in.

And yes, there was considerably more bacon at the morning and lunchtime buffets than one would usually find at such events. The carnivores among us rejoiced. “Mounds of bacon” is no exaggeration.


We also honored and said farewell to Kay Todd, trainer extraordinaire and one of ETR’s original founders. She moves on to a well-deserved retirement after being with the organization for more than 36 years. Over that time, she has worked on dozens of projects, trained thousands of educators, and, when you count it all up, touched the lives of almost 4 million children and adolescents across the nation. Kay departs with our best wishes and deep gratitude for all she has done to strengthen and guide ETR. She inspires us to continue to achieve, improve and transform.

Favorite Words

The day after our retreat, I did an informal survey among my colleagues. “What’s one word that comes to mind when you think of the retreat?” Here are just a few of the responses. Is it any wonder it feels like a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and a great time to be part of this extraordinary organization?

  • Amazing
  • Inspiring
  • Energizing
  • Optimistic
  • Connection
  • Unexpected
  • Fun
  • Awesome
  • Collaborative
  • Wonderful
  • Legacy
  • Comforting
  • Exceeded expectations greatly
  • Best day ever—bacon for breakfast and lunch!




Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES, is Senior Editor at ETR, and proud to be a part of the ETR team. She does not like bacon. You can reach her at


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