About Us

We envision a world where communication is embodied, emotionally intelligent and connective.

Our Approach

We recognize racial, economic, ecological and other social injustices to be rooted in the trauma that naturally results when the sacredness of our relationships to our bodies, to one other and to the earth is disrupted due to the misuse of power, colonialism and domination-based paradigms. Our leadership approach is about cultivating a sacred relationship to power. At the Embodied Leadership Project we invite you into a trauma-informed and empowered relationship with your own life-force energy through relationship with nature and community ceremony.



Our Programming


Our programming is rooted in invoking the ceremony of the African-rooted community dance circle and understanding the subtle energetics operating within it. The community dance circle is a ceremony of using rhythm, movement and attention to express, perceive and relate to feelings and the subtle energy of emotion. Humans are not the only ones who engage in this ceremony, horses also engage in this ceremony with one another in their herds. And there is an ancient relationship in many cultures between the drum and the horse. These non-human spirits hold immense wisdom about listening and attention. People have worked with them for a long time to learn to listen to many dimensions of consciousness. Our work at The Embodied Leadership Project is about understanding power and energy through Tantra Yoga as a pathway toward cultivating this deep listening and attention work. We do this with the intention of relating to trauma and working sacredly with power. We are honored to engage in this research both through our programming here at ELP as well as through our collaboration with Five College Dance's Black Women’s Leadership Initiative.

The similarities between the way horses communicate with one another and the way we teach and learn African-rooted rhythm and movement are striking. Both engage polyrhythm, mirroring, witnessing, breath, listening and sharing deep feeling to cultivate a communal experience of presence in which the experiences of life can unfold and integrate in the body and community. Not only is there an incredible shared cultural language between Black Women and horses, there is a mirrored historical experience of enslavement and exploitation.

We believe that uplifting the leadership of Black Women in solidarity with horses engages a powerful perspective on deconstructing, understanding and learning at subtle levels the incredible power of polyrhythm and movement as tools for relating to trauma, freedom, and re-connection to one another and the earth. They allow us all, across races and cultures, to examine the unconscious impulses for domination and enslavement within ourselves and engage in a practice of working with power in a way that is trauma-informed and non-predatory.

Where we've been

2016

2016 Hampshire College Commencement Performance

Hampshire College Welcoming Circle Ceremony To kick off the year, Ethics and the Common Good, Community Partnerships for Social Change, The Dance Program, The Childhood Youth and Learning Program, and Culture Brain and Development came together and helped The Embodied Leadership Project to host a welcoming ceremony for the Hampshire Community.

Student of Color College Mentor Group This group invited local 7th and 8th graders of color to come to Hampshire’s campus each week and explore youth leadership from an embodied perspective in collaboration with a group of Hampshire mentors of color and our white allies. On our last day we presented the project we had built together, a 17 minute video poem, entirely shot, directed, and edited by the group, entitled: Our Power, Our Stories. Funding in addition to Jonathan Lash’s grant funding was provided by the Ethics and the Common Good Project.

The Research Playground A weekly drop in space offering Hampshire community an opportunity to consistently engage in the practice of cultivating empathy, cultivate skills in listening and creating emotional safety on a total body level.

Meditations on Water An interactive performance about empathy and vulnerability offered in the Hampshire Dance Theater

2017

2017 Workshops and Trainings at Hampshire

  • James Baldwin Scholars Embodied Leadership Workshop

  • Hampshire Connections One Week Embodied Leadership Workshop Series

  • Knowledge Commons Alumni Fellows Two Week Training

  • Div 4 Alumni Embodied Leadership Workshop

  • Civil Liberty and Public Policy Workshop on Embodied Leadership

  • American College Dance Association Festival Embodied Leadership Dance Class

2017 Hampshire College Commencement Performance

Young Women’s Internship Program Launched at Hampshire College The YWP internship program ran through the length of the academic year from F2017-S2019. Each intern was paid through work-study and served throughout the academic year to help research and develop the Embodied Leadership Project’s women’s leadership approach and artistic research. This program was funded through Hampshire College’s Academic Affairs and through the Childhood, Youth and Learning Program. The Young Women’s Program Interns assisted in offering this programming open to Five College Students:

Weekly Drop In Dance Class at Hampshire College a weekly drop in community building and leadership class throughout the fall semester of 2017. This class was co-facilitated by ELP Directors and Young Women’s Program Interns.

2018

2018 Hampshire College Commencement Performance

2018 Engage Conference Opening Performance

2018 Workshops and Trainings at Hampshire

  • Engage Conference Workshop

  • August Orientation Workshop in Embodied Leadership

  • January Orientation Workshop in Embodied Leadership

  • Transformative Speaking Class visit/workshop on Embodied Leadership and Listening

Academic Course in Embodied Leadership In collaboration with the Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies, The Five College Dance Department and the Ethics and the Common Good Project, The Embodied Leadership Project’s offered a pilot semester long group independent study course accredited through Hampshire College. The independent study, entitled The Circle: Aligning Relationship with Self, Community, & Earth, was a leadership development course open to Five College undergraduate (self identified) women of color and their white women allies.This class was co-facilitated by ELP Directors and Young Women’s Program Interns.

Listening, A Lecture/Performance Sponsored by the Dean of Student’s Office through a wellness grant as well as the Hampshire College Art Gallery, this lecture & performance presented Jamila Jackson’s research around embodied leadership.

IMAGINE.CONNECT.WITNESS Sponsored by the Dean of Student’s Office through a wellness grant, this interactive contemplative project invited the Hampshire Community to engage in a weekly meditation.

2019

Radical Care Retreat Embodied Leadership Workshop collaboration with Teal Van Dyck of Ethics and the Common Good at Earthdance Retreat Center.

Embodied Leadership Dance Workshop w/ Hampshire College Dance Program

Smith College Orientation 1.5 Day Workshop

Smith College Residence Life Leadership Training Workshop

Mt. Holyoke Orientation Workshop Series

2020

to be listened into speaking Two month photography exhibition and performance at Northampton Center for the Arts at 33 Hawley

AFROmation Festival, Collaboration With Shakia Johnson


Young Women’s Program Past Programming

YWP Internship Program Pilot

The YWP internship program pilot ran through the length of the academic year from F2017-S2019 and was open to Five College women of color and their white women allies who were committed to continuing to deepen their leadership development. Each intern was paid through work-study and served throughout the academic year to help research and develop our women’s leadership approach.

YWP Group Independent Study Course, Fall of 2018

In collaboration with the Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies, The Five College Dance Department and the Ethics and the Common Good Project, The Young Women’s Program offered a pilot semester long group independent study course accredited through Hampshire College. The group, entitled The Circle: Aligning Relationship with Self, Community, & Earth, was a leadership development course open to Five College undergraduate (self identified) women of color and their white women allies.

YWP Drop in Community Building + Leadership, Fall 2017

The Young Women’s Program offered a weekly drop in community building and leadership class throughout the fall semester of 2017. This class was co-facilitated by ELP Directors and Interns.


We believe in the possibility of diverse communities

where all being’s voices are heard and valued. We are doing the work of undoing oppressive and divisive culture which marginalizes people and experiences, silences our voices, and makes our stories invisible. It is when we have meaningful and connected relationships to others that we think most clearly and creatively and act with innovation, empathy, care and understanding.

Our Facilitators

Jamila Jackson (she/her), MFA

Founder and Director

Jamila is an artist, facilitator and scholar who uses embodiment, storytelling and contemplative practices to build community and cultivate leadership development. Originally from the Bay Area, California, she attended Howard University for two years, received her BA from Hampshire College and her MFA from Wilson College. She was an apprentice at The Wild Temple, completing their 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Sri Vidya Tantra Yoga. Her background in dance, cultural & community expressive arts, natural horsemanship and emotional and trauma release work has helped to shape the leadership model she offers through the Embodied Leadership Project.

She has been performing, lecturing, teaching classes, leadership trainings and workshops at colleges, universities, schools, community centers and conferences for the past 10 years, some of which include: Mills College, Hampshire College, Mt. Holyoke College, Smith College, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School, Amherst Regional High School, La Pena Cultural Center, American College Dance Association Festival, CLPP Conference, Claremont Middle School, Earthdance Center for Creative Living, The Cummington Church.

Learn more about Jamila’s creative work through visiting her Artist Portfolio

Angus

Primary Equine Collaborator

The Embodied Leadership Project received funding from the Kaleidoscope Institute Semester of Justice Grant to deepen our ability to bring the healing and trauma-sensitive wisdom of horses to the community. Through the grant, Jamila was able to buy Angus. Angus and Jamila work together with his herd to research and teach the Equine-Collaborative Practice Curriculum that is offered through the Embodied Leadership Project. Angus lives with his herd at Farah DeJohnette’s Ohana Farm in North Brookfield, MA.

You can connect with Angus online through our Patreon. Our Patreon page is a place for people to gather to learn more about this work with horses, connect with the horses everyday lives and follow the development of this aspect of the project. Jamila posts updates about Angus and his herd, blog posts, pictures and videos. Your monthly donation goes to help pay for the costs of Angus’ board.

*Photo by Farah DeJohnette

Young Women's Program Members


The Young Women’s Program is a supportive, empowering and connected community for young Black Women to engage with and train in a powerful, culturally relevant and liberating approach to leadership. The program provides free leadership training combined with opportunities for paid research and teaching through ELP and BWLI. Learn more about this program here.