How do we continue to evolve into the leaders that are needed in this season?


Ready to Dive Deeper?

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It’s an extraordinary time to be a human

The world needs innovative and courageous leaders who can meet this moment with a

- Capacity to hold complexity and ambiguity
- Compassionate, non-anxious presence
- Commitment to pursuing the most humane and loving path forward

Spiritual Depth and Leadership Development

Research consistently points to the critical work leaders must do that is PERSONAL and SPIRITUAL in nature. This includes engaging in practices that increase their awareness and ability to be present to self and others, help them reflect and make meaning, widen their capacity to hold complex thoughts and emotions, and point them toward the greater good. Leaders who are also cultivating self-compassion and love as central values that guide the way they live are the same leaders building healthy, thriving, and innovative organizations that employees and customers want to be connected to. Hear Rev. April Blaine share more about this...


Deeper Waters - Innovative and Courageous Leaders

Are you ready to dive deeper into this kind of work?  

Our third cohort will launch in January  2024 in Hilliard, Ohio, for 10 months of collective work.   

Space is limited to 12-15 participants.

As we do our work, we will engage and explore

  • An Innovative Leadership Model
  • Resources for cultivating deeper self-awareness, including the Enneagram
  • Tools for understanding and navigating our social location & its implications for social justice work in our communities and organizations
  • Models for nurturing healthy, authentic communities
  • Daily meditative and reflective practices


Who should apply?

The 2024 Deeper Waters experience is geared toward leaders who are ready to do some challenging and honest internal work, and have the time and space to invest in personal and communal practice to support that growth.

Engagement in Deeper Waters will include:

  • Monthly in-person teaching sessions on Sunday afternoons in Hilliard, Ohio. (Jan 28, Feb 11, Apr 14, May 5, Jun 2, Aug 18, Sept 15, Nov 3)
  • Monthly in-person/online small group sessions
  • Two in-person overnight retreats (Mar 1-3 & Oct 4-6) 
  • All books and curriculum
  • Online learning platform that includes readings, videos, and podcasts to guide the learning
  • One-to-one session with one of the facilitators

Cost:   $1500     

(This includes your food and expenses for the two retreats, as well as all books, curriculum, stipends for our teaching team, and in-person sessions.  ) 

Upon acceptance, a deposit of $300 would be due on January 22.

Scholarships and special payment plans are available. 

Applications Due - January 7, 2024.

Apply NOW

Feedback from the first two cohorts

"I'm amazed how often I've found connections in random, everyday things and can then explore further because of my experience in Deeper Waters: increased self-awareness, connections with community, and deconstruction are just some of them." 


"The connections and community exceeded my expectations. I have never been part of a group like this. I would not say it failed to meet my expectations as much as my expectations changed along the way. I was looking for answers. Deeper Waters did not give me answers but put me on the path to find them. It will be a longer journey than I thought."


"Deeper Waters has made a major difference in my life: self love, spiritual growth, working with others, and a community of people who are growing together."


"Deeper Waters was everything I didn't know I needed. What made it a transformative experience for me was witnessing God showing up at various points along the way, often during moments when the group was being vulnerable with one another. It ended up feeling like a journey that goes beyond the curriculum description."


"As someone who has been privileged enough to be a part of this group for two years, it is hard to articulate the impact it has had on my life and what a great catalyst that it has been. This experience really opened me up. It broadened my perspectives.   I was able to grow so much in my self knowledge with the tools that were taught and the conversations that we had.   In my adult life, it helped me in getting more comfortable being uncomfortable.  I'm coming to acceptance that I don't control most things, and learning to flow with it.  If you're thinking about doing it, I can wholeheartedly say, take the leap. See where it leads. This experience has been one of the most meaningful in my life and I feel pretty confident saying it probably will be for you too. "


The Impact of Deeper Waters

Hear from participants of the first two cohorts about what Deeper Waters has meant to them.

About Your Deeper Waters Teaching Team

As leaders ourselves… we’ve experienced the kind of growth, healing, and transformation that can come when we are doing robust personal and spiritual work.  We’ve seen what can happen when this kind of transformation happens in communities of people, willing to do this work together.

Questions about Deeper Waters?  Reach out to Beth Palmer - bpalmer at

Rev. April S. Blaine (she/her)

Lead Pastor, Hilliard United Methodist Church

Adjunct Professor of Spirituality, Methodist Theological School in Ohio

As she continues to recover from her many years of basing her identity on her achievements, April is embracing her contemplative mystic side and finding ways to help those around her discover the depth of love, beauty, power and possibility that they have within.  Her years of studying with Richard Rohr at the Center for Action and Contemplation planted the seed for Deeper Waters, and seeing it come to fruition has been one of her greatest joys.  In addition to her work in the church, she is a certified facilitator with the Innovative Leadership Institute and is currently studying human and spiritual development with Dr. Terri O'Fallon.  In her free time, she loves to read, laugh, eat delicious food, drink Scotch, watch episodes of The Great British Baking Show, trash talk in her Fantasy Football league, and spend time with her husband and two sons.

Nikki Buskirk (she/her)

Director of Middle Grades Ministry, Hilliard United Methodist Church.

Nikki has a long history of community leadership and activism that promotes inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ and Black communities.  In addition to her work of developing curriculum for ages 8-11 focused on outreach, loving your neighbors, and meeting people from oppressed communities, she became a consultant for The Godly Play Foundation in 2020 to assist in their anti-racist initiatives. Nikki is a certified trainer and part of the Foundation’s Beloved Me, Beloved We Advisory Committee, which ensures past and future content, training materials and corporate communications fit in line with the inclusive and anti-racist policy.  For her work in the community Nikki was celebrated as a 2021 Upstander by the Holocaust and Humanity Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.  

Nikki loves working in her vegetable garden on the weekends, hanging out by her pool while her three sons swim, and dancing whenever music is playing.  She loves watching musicals and reading during the rare times she relaxes.

Dan Mushalko (he/him)

Vice President, Innovative Leadership Institute

Ceaseless learning and growing are hallmarks of Dan’s professional life.  A stint at NASA ignited his passion to work for a greater good – launching a career journey which led to leadership roles in the private and public sectors.  Now with the Innovative Leadership Institute, he helps leaders of all stripes develop personally and professionally, particularly emphasizing people-centered leadership.

Dan’s also an alpha geek, especially relishing Star Trek for its portrayal of a future filled with love and potential for all people (and other sentients).  He delights in being with his wife and daughter even more.

Beth Palmer (she/her)

Director of Adult Discipleship, Hilliard UMC

Beth's work at Hilliard UMC focuses on developing adult learning opportunities, small groups, and other ways of fostering spiritual growth. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, she loves to facilitate groups, teach, write, and create experiences that help people tune in to the deepest part of themselves, their divine center, and God's infinite, inclusive, reckless love for them.

Her most recent focus has been with the Enneagram: learning to see herself more clearly; interrupting her deeply-ingrained internal patterns and trying instead to be kind to herself; and completing the Applied Enneagram Professional certification program with the Enneagram Institute of Ohio. She finds great joy in teaching others about this powerful tool and seeing self-awareness and practical transformation in day-to-day lives and relationships grow.

Beth and her husband Frank have recently discovered disc golf, and Beth is practicing the art of being a beginner who’s not immediately excellent at this new hobby! She reads a lot, goes to Broadway in Columbus shows with her Mom, helps manage her Dad’s affairs (dementia is just terrible), and has a deep love affair with brownies (slightly undercooked, with chocolate chips and chocolate icing). 

About our Sponsoring Organization: Hilliard United Methodist Church

Hilliard United Methodist Church is proud to be the sponsor and host site for this Deeper Waters experience.  We are a congregation committed to spiritual growth and seeking to help all people know and experience that God Loves You… No Matter What.   A proud member of the Reconciling Ministries Network, we welcome and affirm people of every gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, who are also of every age, race, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, level of education, and family structure, and of every economic, immigration, marital, and social status, and so much more.  For too long, we feel the church has failed to support the kind of personal and spiritual development that is desperately needed in our world today.  We welcome people from all kinds of spiritual and religious backgrounds to this experience as we seek to meet these complex and challenging times with more faithful and compassionate leadership.

Our Leadership Model & the Innovative Leadership Institute

Both Dan and April have been shaped significantly by the work of the Innovative Leadership Institute (ILI), specifically its founder and CEO, Maureen Metcalf.  The ILI model for leadership development will be an integrated part of this Deeper Waters experience of personal and spiritual development... allowing for direct connections to the practical and day-to- day work of leading teams and organizations.  We are deeply grateful to ILI for helping us host the website for this course on their Kajabi platform.  

ILI provides sophisticated, customizable leadership development, coaching, and assessment solutions that facilitate behavioral change and accelerate culture transformation aligned with organizational strategy and business goals. Everything focuses on integrating leadership innovation into organizational DNA, incorporating it into the cultural foundation by targeting systems, processes, mindsets, and behaviors. These changes enable you to leverage the specific disruption you are facing such as, digital transformation (analytics, AI, robotic process automation), to create your organizational objectives.

Maureen Metcalf

Founder & CEO, Innovative Leadership Institute

Fellow, International Leadership Association




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