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Catherine has been a member of Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) since 2009 and has deep experience in all aspects of YPO and forum. She has been involved in officer positions at chapter, regional and international level, leading mentoring as YPO Global Mentoring Chair for 5 years.  She has been a member of three forums, two in-person chapter forums and one virtual network forum. As a Certified Forum Facilitator, Catherine facilitates all forum training including Forum Fundamentals, Forum Basics and Forum Moderator training. She also facilitates forum retreats and forum supercharges.  

Forum Retreats

For forums wanting to deepen their connection, reboot their forum, or just spend a few quality days together to reconnect, a forum retreat with a CFF is vital at least once a year.  

I will work with the forum moderator to hear what is wanted from the forum, and after a health survey is done, put a proposal together for the forum to consider.  

The major role of the CFF would be to hold the forum in a safe space and help to create the psychological safety that the forum needs to have deep, open conversations. 

Some possible topics for forum retreats:

  • Going deeper with my forum

  • Building stronger connections

  • Wellbeing/Wellness/ Life balance- how to lead a more balanced life

  • Finding my purpose/ finding purpose in what I do/finding my IKIGAI

  • Communication skills/ Conversational Intelligence

  • Transitions

  • Empty nest

  • Building teams and trust

  • Resilience

  • Aging parents

  • Grief and loss

  • Navigating relationships

  • Parenting and challenges within that realm

  • Family business

  • Mentoring personally or in my business - the power of giving back

What members have said...

"It was very insightful and Catherine was a brilliant facilitator."

"A CFF is a must for retreats."

"The members felt the need to get involved with each other due to the great facilitation."

"Very helpful and direct."

"Very well structured, engaging and fun."

"Was very interactive and pushed us to think further."

"It applied to real-life present, past and future."


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Certified Forum Facilitator Spotlight: Catherine Hodgson


If you have been involved in YPO Mentoring at all, there’s a good chance you recognize Catherine Hodgson’s  name (YPO Cape Town Gold).  


A member since 2009, Catherine joined the organization seeking a community of contemporaries.


“I was at a point in my career where I had hit a brick wall, I was bored,” she says. “I had  been running my business with my husband for 14 years and just felt I wasn't learning anymore. I was eager for knowledge and growth.”


She immediately embraced her new YPO community and looked to get involved quickly and make a difference.


First stop: mentoring


A self-described “all in, boots and all” type, she participated in one of the first YPO mentoring pilots in Cape Town, later becoming a chapter mentoring officer and then Africa regional mentoring officer. Realizing she had more to learn about how to mentor, she sought experts around the world, then went on to develop mentoring training materials for YPO and held  YPO’s first mentoring training workshop.


From 2012-2018 she served as YPO Global Mentoring Chair on two  international  committees, rolling out the YPO Mentoring program to chapters around the world, developing and launching Mentoring Masterclasses, an online mentoring platform, YPO MentorCloud, and training mentoring facilitators and mentoring officers. In 2017 she developed a mentoring model, the Catherine Wheel, which has been adopted by YPO as our mentoring model.


A natural next step: CFF


Not one to shy away from leadership positions or challenges, Catherine undertook the grueling challenge to become a Certified Forum Facilitator (CFF), a feat that felt like a long time coming.


“I would get asked to run Mentoring Masterclass, and they’d say, ‘Oh, can you run forum training too?’ They’d just assume I was a forum facilitator,” she says.


Catherine started having real discussions about becoming a CFF. With her experience facilitating and running mentoring workshops, it was a natural progression.


“I always love to learn. I had become a coach, was certified in Conversational Intelligence and of course, deeply involved with mentoring, but I knew there would be more opportunities to broaden my scope of working knowledge,” Catherine says. “Also, there was the access to the CFF community; with the high caliber of existing CFFs, being part of that community was a big driver.”


Still with all her experience, CFF training was a challenge. In fact, she wasn’t accepted into training until her second try. 


“It took a lot of strength and courage, as well as putting my ego aside to go for it again,” she says. Once in, it didn’t get easier. “It was humbling because the feedback was so honest. And you have to take it as feedback that you can learn from and improve on, rather than take it too personally and walk away,” she says.


But the experience has been invaluable, she says, with CFF training giving her better insight into forum.  


“The number of tools and materials available is incredible. For me, it was like opening a candy box. These tools can really rejuvenate your forum,” she says.


She takes her CFF knowledge into her own forum, but she tries to remove her “CFF hat” and participate as a member ready to contribute, not criticize. Still, she is excited to suggest tools or exercises that will enrich her forum.


She also sees more clearly how mentoring and forum can work in tangent.


“Often in forum, members can be dealing with issues and sometimes they aren't moving forward. There's only so many times that you can bring the same issue to your forum, only so much time you can spend on it, and only so much experience your forum members can give you,” she says. “And if you’re not moving forward, you, and the whole forum, are stuck,”


That's when forum dovetails into mentoring she says. With mentoring you can find someone who has been on the journey you’re embarking on and guide you on how to  move forward.


“Seeing that person go through this metamorphosis and transformation through mentoring and then come back with results is so wonderful to see. That’s where that dovetailing is very good and strong,” she adds.


Her next chapter


Up next, Catherine will be launching a book – her first – focused on mentoring.


“It’s a mentoring roadmap and the ultimate guide for mentors and mentees. It's a deep dive into mentoring, taking them on a journey on how to get the most out of their mentoring relationship and sharing stories I’ve picked up along the way. It’s comprehensive, but still chatty and light,” she says. “Writing a book has been a lifelong dream of mine, so I’m very excited about it. It’s my contribution to the world.”

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