The LF! Story
The Learning Forte story really starts when founder and CEO, Stacy Williams-Duncan, was teaching religion to middle school students.
Even before class began, some students decided they hated the course (and religion in general) because it was “boring." Amused and undeterred, Stacy challenged their assumptions of a religion class and what she as a religious person would talk about. In her 8th-grade classes, she integrated philosophers, even those arguing against the existence of God. She introduced religious topics to 7th graders through technology, finding that students were more willing to engage content when asked to create digital products instead of writing papers. Soon the class assumptions stopped, but more importantly, the religious assumptions stopped. Breaking her own assumptions about teaching and integrating digital tools allowed Stacy to find an inroad to help her students reframe their assumptions about religion and move towards more meaningful and creative learning experiences.
All of this and more is what led Stacy Williams-Duncan to formally launch Learning Forte in 2019. As the rector of a small, rural Episcopal church in Virginia with an extensive professional background in education and digital systems, she knew there was growing angst about how faith communities and other mission-driven organizations would meet challenges related to our hybrid world. Stacy was also convinced that leaders of these organizations need support as they navigate change and serve their larger communities in order to impact the public sphere.
“We have an important role to play. I think we've been too quick to abandon the idea that the church has something to say to our society. I really want to challenge churches and faith-based organizations to live into their hybrid vocation for the sake of the gospel and its embodiment for the common good.”
This is where Learning Forte thrives. We know the social and technological landscape is rapidly changing. In the midst of these changes, leaders in all manner of faith-related settings are asking a wide range of questions. Just as Stacy did to reach her middle-school students, these leaders are navigating their own changing realities as they aim to reach others. We recognize that new models, tools, learnings, and experimentations are required to make this possible, especially in a way that translates to the unique contexts of these leaders, while keeping their time, budgets, and resources in mind.
Many of our clients, while passionate about their vocations, are also unsure about their ability to lead with clarity and confidence in the midst of massive changes in the landscape of their work. In order to support these leaders, Learning Forte has brought together an expansive network of experts, thought leaders, community organizers, ministers, educators, leadership coaches, content developers, media specialists, and more who have first-hand experience serving in similar roles as our clients.
We pride ourselves in being a true "hybrid" company, able to serve our clients both remotely and locally. We are convinced that whether onsite or online, it's all IN PERSON. We hold space for our clients' longing to develop sustainable paths for carrying out their call, empowering them to do so strategically, creatively, and collaboratively.
“I think individual leaders are asking practical questions: How can I be more effective in my role? How can I feel more confident about what I'm doing and how I'm leading? Many of the leaders we talk to are really isolated and have convinced themselves that they have to do most of their work on their own. I want Learning Forte to be a sign of what is possible when you have a team collaborating for the mission of God in whatever context your organization serves. I want our gifted and compassionate team to come alongside others and join them, support them, share the load so they can contribute to their communities in a co-creative way.”
The Learning Forte story continues to evolve as we expand our understanding of hybridity beyond the "where" and "how" of our work to the "who." Our team consists of change shapers from a variety of denominations, working in different regions of the country. We are lay and ordained people - individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities. As a group, we are committed to staying curious about each other and the contexts in which we serve. We value an embodied spirituality that affirms healthy boundaries and work rhythms. It's not easy, but we shut down for four weeks of the year to honor the practice of Sabbath and to help our team be more present with their loved ones and with our clients.
We encourage you to sign up for a 30-minute discovery call to tell us more about your goals and context so that together we can discern how Learning Forte can partner with you.