Doug's Reflections on the 2018 Annual Gathering

I am still basking in the glow of our time together in New Orleans two weeks ago. I believe we all left encouraged, inspired, challenged to think about our lives and challenges with a fresh eye.  So grateful that you attended. This was our largest group ever made possible by the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and its extraordinary President Raj Shah.  For those of you who missed, take a look at the program of events here for a taste of those special days. 

No doubt, the Thursday Legends dinner was noteworthy with young Fatima Arabzada interviewing noted author Walter Isaacson and Rockefeller head, Raj Shah. There were many candid moments in that exchange. A good encouraging welcome was provided by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who called us to a better place beyond partisan bickering and hate to love and bridge building. Punctuating the night was incredible music with New York Metropolitan tenor Paul Groves lifting us through the power of his voice. And then the incomparable jazz band under the leadership of Fred Starr.  And who will forget our walk through Bourbon street in what locals call a ‘line’, where we followed a New Orleans band through those ruckus and wonderful streets wearing beads, hats and laughing and dancing all the way. 

But there were many other ‘moments’ for deep consideration of what truly matters. Whether it was the profound, and yes, ‘raw’ and vulnerable sharing of our panel on Meaning or our two extraordinary breakout sessions, one on heart health and the other on raising children with confidence and resilience, there was much to ponder and incorporate into our lives. 

And the hits kept coming. For me personally, going to the Whitney Plantation to learn the complicated history of slavery from the slave perspective was truly extraordinary. I learned so much and was rocked to the core at moments. I heard that those who ventured to the Cafe Reconcile were equally moved by the experience of interacting with those who had turned their lives around, against all odds. 

And who will ever forget the learnings from Steve Franklin’s research on centenarians, those good souls who have passed the 100 year mark. Those teachings and take aways can inform us to build those attributes of gratitude and service into our daily lives. The elements of thriving are knowable and can be ‘stolen’ to our advantage. 

And our Friday evening Civility dinner was inspiring and hopeful. To hear from a leading Imam and a pastor how they have bridged differences to recapture a truly American sentiment, ‘e pluribus unum’,  out of many, we are one. What a reminder in these deeply divided days. 

So many other wonderful moments, particularly, as we shared ‘peer to peer’, realizing again that we are all more alike than different. And that our point of connection with one another are not our great accomplishments or wealth but our weakness, our broken parts. What a relief!

If you were unable to join us, we missed you. But for those who attended, do something with that knowledge! Make a difference, start with yourself. 

It is great to be on the journey with each of you. Every one of you brings out a unique aspect of the rest of us.  Live in hope!

Share with us your own unique take aways from New Orleans. And consider joining us on one of the future PathNorth experiences (  If you have not joined us officially, please let us know if your desire to do so. 

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why.”  Mark Twain