Vanessa Ann Rich

1951 - 2015





2019 Vanessa Rich Summer Leadership Retreat 


Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 9:00 AM CDT
Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 3:00 PM CDT

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Wednesday - 9:00am to 5:00pm 

Thursday - 8:30am to 3:00pm


Illinois Beach Resort
1 Lake Front Dr
Zion, IL 60099

Driving Directions 

Registration Fees:

Member Registration Fee: $286.00 per person

Five or More from the Same Agency (must be IHSA agency member): $261.00/per person

Non Member Registration Fee: $436.00

Registration fee includes:

Wednesday: Continental Breakfast, Lunch and "special" dinner event. 

Thursday: Continental Breakfast & Lunch

Meet Your Leadership Guides: 

Phase One: Yolanda Winfrey

Yolanda Winfrey, a past Head Start Child and a past Head Start Parent (her son Douglas is a Head Start Alumni as well) has worked in the early childhood field for over 20 years. She has held various positions including Head Start/Early Childhood Director and Chief Talent and Organizational Development Officer.  Yolanda has a Master’s Degree in Education (Early Childhood) from Concordia University Wisconsin, a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an Advanced Practice Social Work Certification from the State of Wisconsin. In 2013, Yolanda received an award from the Milwaukee Community Journal for her Contributions Towards Making Our Community Stronger (in the area of Education). Yolanda combines her educational background, knowledge and skills with that of her experiences as a past Head Start Child and a past Head Start Parent to bring a unique perspective and approach to her work in this field. Yolanda is experienced in systems development; management systems, policies and implementation practices; providing training and technical assistance to administrators, board members, managers, staff, and programs in program design and service delivery; grant writing; and customized consulting services. The perspective Yolanda provides has led to numerous, positive and innovative approaches that has helped her program and others develop and ignite the passion in their work to improve outcomes for children, families, staff, and organizations.

Phase Two: Dr. Tim Nolan 

Dr. Nolan is about to complete his 50th year as a Head Start Executive Director serving National Centers for Learning Excellence, Inc. He has been a consultant to business organizations for over 46 years. He is author or coauthor of 47 books. He is known across the Head Start world for his work on Compassionate Partnering™. His Applied Strategic Planning™ model has been used by thousands of organizations across the English-speaking world, including the FBI, the U.S. Treasury, Allied Van Lines, the Los Angeles public library and over 470 Head Start agencies. A psychologist by training, Tim is CEO of Innovative Outcomes, Inc. and the Center for Leadership Excellence, Inc.  He has been a consultant for 46 years and has trained over 3,100 consultants so far in his career. One of his consulting specialties is individual and organizational innovation, having done his doctoral work in creativity and thinking skills. Tim has enthusiastically provided leadership for numerous special projects on behalf of NHSA over the last several years. He is President of the Wisconsin Head Start Association and is highly involved with the Region V Head Start Association and its Parent Gauge™ project. His professional mission is to shape the future, one child and one family at a time! Tim absolutely loves Head Start!

The Nature Cure for Mental Wellness!

A trip to Illinois Beach Hotel might just be exactly what the doctor ordered. Ecotherapy is the applied practice of nature-based treatments that can support your health and wellbeing. Sometimes it really is that simple—fresh air is good for you. Why some doctors are writing prescriptions for time outdoors! Tucked away into a scenic state park, Illinois Beach Hotel offers guests a true escape into nature. 


Event Contact

Michelle Iocca
Illinois Head Start Association

This leadership experience was created to continue the legacy of our dear friend and Head Start colleague Vanessa Rich.  Vanessa was a brilliant and formidable leader, a fearless advocate, and a kind, devoted friend. Vanessa once said, 'In Head Start, we don't just stand on the porch, we come all the way into the house.'  That is how she lived: all the way in. Let's come together to fuel her passion to expand opportunity for vulnerable children and families. We will celebrate her kind spirit that will continue to inspire and fortify the entire Head Start community. As Vanessa is no longer able to be the voice for young children and families who do not have their own voice, it is time for you..for each of pick up this responsibility by demonstrating that impactful leaders lead through an artful mix of heart, passion and spirit and by making sure we are always living "all the way in".   


Choose Your Experience: Phase One or Phase Two!

There are two phases of this leadership retreat. BOTH PHASES ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN PAST YEARS! This is your experience and it is completely up to you if you would like to attend Phase One or Phase Two. Our recommendation is that if this is your first time coming, you start with Phase One. This Phase will focus on YOU and YOUR LEADERSHIP styles. It will touch on spirit and passion, your individual strengths and the importance of connecting to YOU. There will be growth and reflection to promote the opportunity to become a more cognizant and effective leader with the overall desire to get more from yourself, your relationships, your work, and your life. 

Phase Two is a deeper dive into the seasoned leader. At this phase, you better know and understand your leadership style, your strengths and your weaknesses. You know what it takes to help people and your agency achieve their potential. You love your job and what you do but you might be feeling like your battery is drained. Because your most effective leadership will only happen when your personal battery is fully charged, this phase will focus on RECHARGING and RE-ENERGIZING. 

Both experiences will support your personal growth and help you discover new ways to be the leader YOU want to be in a fun and relaxing environment! More about each phase below. 


Phase One: Leading With Your Heart, Your Passion and Your Spirit

The Phase One Leadership Experience will enable you to get in touch with important aspects of yourself as a leader…and to learn to be the voice of those without a voice. Because being a leader means first leading yourself and thereby learning to successfully take on opportunities and challenges in life. Leadership is best accomplished when you can take your heart-felt feelings and beliefs and express them with genuine passion. Genuine passion is not learned…it is FELT. Passion is EXPRESSED. Leadership involves nurturing your spirit and the spirit of those around you. Spirit fuels action. When you complete YOUR unique leadership experience in Phase One, you will leave with many insights about what helps leaders attract passionate followers. This investment of your time and energy will return itself many times over as you help to provide the leadership so needed in our Head Start world. Phase One will enable you to be the best leader that you can be, making a deep difference in the lives of others.

Benefits to you...

  • Learn how to create a healthy culture in your organization that fosters leadership at all levels
  • Obtain the tools (skills/knowledge) you need to connect with the emerging world of Head Start/Early Head Start
  • Equip you to think and act like authentic leaders
  • Change the Way You See Everything through Asset Thinking
  • Change the Way You See Yourself
  • Change the Way You See Other People
  • Change the Way You See Situations
  • Learn to encourage the heart, engage passion and build staff morale

Phase Two: RECHARGE! Lead with Renewed Energy and Vision!

Would you ever feel bad for charging your phone when the battery is low? Of course not. So why would you feel bad for recharging your own battery when you need it? All of us as Head Start leaders find our personal energies declining from time to time. This is particularly true in today’s rapidly changing, demanding and even sometimes accusing environment! When a leader’s energies decline, this becomes an organizational issue given our high visibility. Followers experience the very same drain on their energies. To be your best as a leader, you need time to recharge. Knowing yourself well enough to know when and how to recharge your batteries is essential to being a successful leader. The opportunity to RECHARGE can be offered to everyone across your organization! We all need to find ways to recharge our internal batteries in order to once again approach our work with enthusiasm and maximum performance. Come find the energy, vision and tools to lead strongly into your future! This unique learning experience is designed as an investment in both you as a senior leader and in all those that you lead. This phase has two main goals:

 1.    Present opportunities for you to renew your energies…to charge your batteries. You will leave with more energy and tools to sustain this increased energy.  

 2.    Give you tools and professional development designs to enable you to recharge the batteries of those with whom you work!  

 Benefits to you…

  • Learn and practice how to recharge your energy and passion about your work.
  • Learn to defeat the multiple energy-drainers in your life.
  • Identify how to create an organizational environment which continually recharges the energy of the people working with you in Head Start.
  • Commit to this being an “INVESTMENT” and not a “cost”! Develop this rationale for leaders back home.
  • Learn how to reorganize your program to free up and create energy.
  • Return home with resources, plans and tools to assure that you can flourish.
  • Learn how to use employee fringe benefit dollars to fund wellness investments.
  • Return home KNOWING that your vision-driven work in Head Start will be better, more FUN and more impactful than ever before!

Sleeping Room Information:

To reserve your sleeping room, call the hotel directly at: (847) 625-7300

Sleeping Room Rate: $99.00/single

BOOK YOUR ROOM BEFORE MONDAY, May 8th. The block will be released on this date!


Bring the FAMILY and make this a "Mini-Vacay"!


Whether you dream of staying on the beach but don’t want to travel too far or you just want a unique lakefront experience, Illinois Beach Hotel is the ideal destination for you. Take a trip to the state’s only hotel on the shore of Lake Michigan. This resort features an on-site restaurant and an indoor swimming pool. Each guest room includes free Wi-Fi, and cable TV is provided in every room. Guests have the convenience of an in-room Keurig coffeemaker, and some rooms include a balcony. Lakeside Restaurant is on-site and serves American cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guests can enjoy a cocktail and Lake Michigan views from Sandpiper Lounge.  A spa with a sauna, a hot tub, and a tanning bed is provided at the Zion Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center. There is also a fitness center with classes available. A game room is also on site.


Illinois Beach Hotel is located in Illinois Beach State Park, known for over 4,000 acres of beach, dunes, wetlands, prairie, and oak savanna. Spend the day swimming in the lake, hiking a trail, boating, or simply enjoying nature.


Enjoy the private beach OR head out to many nearby attractions! Six Flags Great America is 13 miles away while shopping at the Gurnee Mills Mall can be reached in a 24-minute. Don't miss Jelly Belly Warehouse, and more!