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Welcome Group



NOTE: Since this piece was originally published, some details of the Welcome Group Program have changed. For the most current information about Welcome Groups, visit

By Marco Cassone, MSOD and Kris Lea, PsyD OD


This year, the OD Network is proud to announce the launch of the Welcome Group Program (WGP), serving new members and graduate/doctoral students in the OD Network. The program connects members to each other while exploring the Network, and was piloted in 2016 with high success. Participants meet virtually for two weeks to accomplish three tasks:

  1. Identify their own professional needs (skills, learning, relationships);
  2. Collaborate in exploring OD Network resources and member benefits;
  3. Develop lasting relationships and action plans for your OD Network membership.

Interested members should visit to register and for more information. Enrollment is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.

We’d like to invite you to participate! To get a feel for the Welcome Group Program, here is a conversation shared by founders, Kris Lea and Marco Cassone.


Kris: So what inspired the Welcome Group Program?

Marco: Looking back as a recent graduate student in OD, I wish I’d learned about the OD Network earlier. When I first joined, I didn’t know many other members, and it took a while for me to feel connected. I found that this was the experience of other new members and students as well. Forming a few key relationships gives us the feeling of belonging and inclusion when we’re new.

Kris: I had the same experience. So we decided to create a space where relationships could form easily. We found research that small group formats are an important part of how large nonprofits grow. That was the SPARK for the Welcome Group Program: get new members together to build relationships, to share their own professional needs, and to learn about the Network.

Marco: Let’s recap our design. We offer TWO sessions (of 2 hrs and 90 min respectively) in a small group setting (6-12 participants) to explore the diverse career goals, expectations, and demands of participants. This process is inspiring and fun, and it identifies where we are.

Kris: We survey all the member benefits the OD Network has to offer. Some build relationships, like our annual conference or mentorship program, while others build our practices, like our publications, online toolkits, and Job Exchange board.

Marco: Then we connect where we are with where we want to go by mapping out how to get there: we work up individual action plans with peer accountability to help each member get their professional needs met from their membership. Participants leave lit up and engaged.

Kris: YES! And….that’s just the beginning. From our pilot last year, we found that ‘grads’ of the program are so inspired, many sign up to co-facilitate future Welcome Groups or join other committees in the Network (also currently seeking volunteers).

Marco: The OD Network is a much richer individual experience when we roll up our sleeves and work with fellow members on issues we care about. There are some seriously TALENTED and ACCOMPLISHED people in this Network. Creating strong, sustaining relationships in our field is one of the main reasons the OD Network exists.

Kris: I like thinking of the WGP as the “front door” to the Network (thanks to WGP Committee leaders, Erin Brown Hachtel and Alicia Simmons for that image). We all can’t wait for our upcoming 2016 kickoff sessions!

Marco: Sign up quick & hope to see you all there.

 See Events Calendar for upcoming Welcome Group Sessions

For help or specific questions, contact

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