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For the first time since Presidio Graduate School acquired Pinchot University, our San Francisco and Seattle campuses came together for a fun-filled, action-packed weekend with 40 students and alumni. The theme of integration traversed throughout all our activities and by the end of the weekend, we knew one another better, understood that we’re more powerful together, and had a heck of a good time.

The first of a hopefully annual tradition, was held at the serene and sacred Mount Madonna Center in Watsonville, CA from Feb 2-4, 2018. The event was designed and executed by the talented and wonderful, Avi Kruley (San Francisco campus), who did so much to make this happen from organizing student facilitators to leading activities.


Retreat activities included:

  • Opening and closing circle – a Seattle tradition
  • Ashtanga Yoga class – (2.25 hours!)
  • Integrating Our Origin Stories – session facilitated by Libba and Gifford Pinchot, Seattle campus founders and Ron Nahser, SF Provost Emeritus. Listen to their session here.
  • Open Mic and Dance Party – including an impromptu pitch fest with surprise topics judged by alumni. This included a dance rendition of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend,” and a late nightcap off with experiential harp session!
  • Integrating Our Future Stories – individual and collaborative poetry writing sessions


Here are some of the individual perspectives from the weekend:

“It was such a unique opportunity to escape to the Santa Cruz mountains for a weekend of fun, 

relaxation, integration, and exploration with this incredible group of human beings. It was a chance to reconnect with old friends and forge new connections across campuses and groups within the community. I left the weekend feeling a deep sense of gratitude for being a part of this amazing group of thought leaders and change markers and inspired to dig deeper into my professional work, academic work, and personal development.”

-Leif Anderson, San Francisco campus


“It was such a treat to hear the origins of both campuses from the Seattle founders, Libba & Gifford Pinchot and SF Provost Emeritus Ron Nahser. Learning how they were both founded with not only the same vision for holistic learning experiences but also a collaboration between founders shows our common roots and explains why it is so easy to get along with our sister campus classmates.

For those of you not able to join in the in-person fireside chat, you can learn more about our origin stories by listening to this audio file of the Gifford and Libba Pinchot recorded live at the retreat, and by watching the interview with Dick on the PGS webpage.”

-Shawna Cain, Seattle campus


“Refreshed. Renewed. Reconnected. The weekend was very well paced (thank you Avi and all the organizers!) in allowing us time and space to reflect, connect with the group as well as individually. I walked away more grounded than ever in the last year, particularly given all the uncertainties ahead. We were able to relax, have fun and be silly, while also converse on the more dire subjects at hand. This further proves the importance of having these community touch points in our culture whether between SF and SEA or with future PGS campuses in the US or even around the world. With all the chaos and noise that has been PGS in the last year, our resilient culture, community, and creativity have lead us to visions forward. I will leave with the same Chinese word I shared at closing circle: 危机 (wei ji). This is the Chinese word for “crisis,” it is combined with the character for “danger” and the character for “opportunity.”

-Tracey Lin, San Francisco campus


“I loved connecting with my San Francisco classmates and having some dedicated student time.”

-Dana Hansen, Seattle campus


“I really loved the connections both the San Francisco & Seattle campuses made this weekend. I loved how everyone was so present and enjoying everyone’s company. The Talent Show was awesome!!! Thank you for all the love.”

-Selena Martinez, San Francisco campus


“I thoroughly enjoyed early morning yoga and was thankful that my second time practicing yoga ever was smoother than the first.”

-Monique Etienne, Seattle campus


“What a beautiful and scenic place to connect with students from San F rancisco and Seattle in a gorgeous mountain setting. Wonderful conversations, new friends, delicious vegetarian/vegan food, camping, hiking, hot tubbing, and yoga – what more could you ask for?!”

-Dana Wilke, San Francisco campus


“I enjoyed seeing new and familiar faces – the highlight was the pitch fest.”

-Keryna Johnson, Seattle campus emeritus


“When Presidians come together, magic happens! We circled, we played, we wrote, we sang, we walked, we talked, we learned, we loved.”

-Avi Kruley (San Francisco campus)


Big thanks to Avi Kruley and all the organizers for a truly one-of-a-kind event. Until next year, anyway!


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