Kerry Secrest facilitates a WLC discussion

Women's Leadership CircleS

The Women's Leadership Circles of Vermont provide powerful women the space, support, and tools to lead with clarity and confidence.

This program was specifically developed for established women in leadership positions across sectors—nonprofit, business, and government. Our participants have the initiative and vision to push themselves toward greater personal and professional achievement, and to grow in their roles as influential change-makers. We build participant groups of women with the awareness, experience, and professionalism to create a safe place for frank and honest discussion to happen.

Women's Leadership Circle

How Do You Apply?

The Fall 2018 Women's Leadership Circle in the Upper Valley is now full!  For information about upcoming Circles, please contact Lisa Christie at j.lisa.christie(at)  

What Do You Gain?

Participating in a Women’s Leadership Circle brings five primary benefits:

  • Alignment: The program supports deep inquiry into personal and professional priorities and helps participants create a life more in alignment with their values.
  • Expanded capacity: Participants identify their strengths and develop an individualized plan to effectively build on their leadership abilities.
  • Grounded foundation: WLC supports women to embody their leadership. Participants explore the link between personal well-being and leadership, and take action in support of their improved health.
  • Real-world impact: Each WLC participant practices her expanded leadership abilities in a real-world project designed to create meaningful outcomes in alignment with personal values and aspirations.
  • Community: Each Circle is intentionally drawn from the same county. Circle members sustain their friendships long after the formal WLC program is completed, and often continue to meet as a group for years. (In fact, the first WLC has been meeting regularly since 2011!)

How it Works

Each WLC is a circle of 10-12 established women leaders from a specific geographical location (typically a single county) who meet formally over six months, during which time they establish the foundation for an ongoing network of support that continues after the program is completed.

During the program, participants meet:

  • for an initial overnight retreat
  • for four monthly meetings
  • for a customized, one-on-one coaching session
  • with a peer learning partner to maintain momentum and accountability
  • online as needed to ask questions and share experiences
  • for a one-day final retreat to distill learnings and plan for the Circle’s next steps

In addition, each participant will design an individualized leadership plan, a wellness goal, and a real-world action project. For more information about the curriculum and key program components, please see the Program Overview.

The Women’s Leadership Circle of Vermont program was founded by Kerry Secrest of Watershed Coaching, LLC  in 2011. The model is based on years of research tracking women’s experience of how the WLC has supported their career and personal paths. Marlboro is thrilled to share this research: "Women’s Leadership Development Through Networks Of Support: An Analysis Of The Women’s Leadership Circles Of Vermont," a chapter in the book Managing in the Social Sector: Strategies for Advancing Human Dignity and Social Justice, by editors S. Aqeel Tirmizi and John D. Vogelsang. To receive the download, see Kerry’s Resources webpage.

FALL 2018 Schedule 

These are the anticipated dates for the WLC12-Upper Valley program (subject to change):

  • Opening Retreat: Thursday-Friday, September 6-7 - Arrive 2pm on the 6th - Depart 5:30pm on the 7th
  • Social Event - Tuesday, September 18, 5:30pm
  • Tuesday, October 9 - 8:30-3:30
  • Thursday, November 15 - 8:30-3:30
  • Thursday, December 13th - 8-5:30pm
  • Wednesday, January 16 - 5:30-8:30pm



Kerry Secrest is committed to supporting women leaders. Through her business Watershed Coaching, LLC  Kerry facilitates national corporate courses for women in leadership, provides individual coaching for professional women, leads an annual women's retreat, and personally experiences the power of being in her own women's circle for more than 12 years. Drawing on her extensive coaching experience, Kerry developed the Women's Leadership Circles of Vermont to support the flourishing of our most promising women leaders. In 2014, Kerry was appointed by Governor Peter Shumlin to the Vermont Commission on Women.


There is a large body of research on women in leadership that highlights the gendered experience of power and responsibility in the workplace. The design of this program has been especially influenced by:

  • Centered Leadership - How Talented Women Thrive, Joanna Barsh, Susie Cranston, and Rebecca A. Craske
  • Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High Achieving Women, Marian N. Ruderman and Patricia J. Ohlott
  • Your Authentic Leadership, Bill George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean, and Diana Mayer
  • What Makes a Leader, Daniel Goleman


“This program must be accessible across the board to all women interested. Currently and overall, women have fewer resources, both of time and money, than men. Investing in women’s leadership and growth is critical to societal success and Vermont’s health and beauty.”

“The personal and professional camaraderie that develops is unique and will last well past the end of the WLC. Kerry is professional, knowledgeable, competent and most importantly a warm and genuine person.”

“I am more self-aware, I am making different choices personally and professionally and feel much more at ease!”

“The reading, activities, monthly meetings, and our group’s interaction was like being on Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery.”

"One of the first things Kraft talked about during her interview was her excitement in being a part of the Women’s Leadership Circle... Kraft’s obvious enthusiasm for this program was a clue to understanding her own continued success as a leader in the arts and cultural sector here in Vermont; she respects and is willing to learn from others whose approach may be different than her own." - Vermont Woman Magazine. Read More.

Read more testimonials from past WLC participants.


The fee for WLC is $2750. We recognize that cost may be a barrier for some, and we encourage participants to seek support from their employer. Research shows that women are less likely than men to seek financial support from their companies or organizations to pay for professional leadership development. This program is designed to make the organization stronger by making the leader stronger, and consequently most participants are funded by their organization. 

We are committed to building the strongest possible cohort, regardless of the ability to pay and, to this end, we have a small pool of need-based aid. Income-eligible Vermont residents are also encouraged to seek support through a VSAC nondegree grant. Find more funding possibilities to consider in the document How to Pay for the Program

Find detailed information about tuition and making payments in the document Tuition and Payment Information. If you are ready to make a payment, you may do so with our payment form. For your consideration, please familiarize yourself with our Withdrawal and Refund Policy.

Participants who wish to receive graduate academic credit for this program may do so.  Click here for more information. 


To learn more about the Women's Leadership Circles of Vermont, please contact Kerry Secrest, program director, 802-451-0842.