Are You Ready To Rumble... With TAPS and Dare to Lead™?

Author: Terri Williams

"I have watched over 300 TAPS Survivors graduate from our Dare to LeadTM program. Their growth, connection, and commitment to learn and help one another is a demonstration of the heart of the TAPS Community."

Terri L. Williams, TAPS Senior Advisor and Dare to LeadTM Facilitator, Survivor of the 9/11 Attack on the Pentagon

Dare to Lead Book Cover

More than 300 TAPS Survivors across the nation had the courage to rumble with their vulnerability and are now graduates of the Dare to Lead™ program. The Dare to Lead™ program is a courage-building program based on the most significant findings from Dr. Brené Brown’s latest research that defines courage as a collection of the following four skill sets that are teachable, measurable, and observable: 

  • Rumbling with Vulnerability
  • Living into our Values
  • Braving Trust
  • Learning to Rise

All of our Dare to Lead™ cohorts consist of weekly workshops that include interactive and intuitive facilitation, small group discussions with fellow TAPS Survivors, practical exercises and self-reflection to guide groups through the four courage skill sets of daring leadership.

The courage gained through the Dare to Lead™ program has enabled our graduates to be brave within their communities, jobs, and families. Since March of 2020, TAPS has hosted 10 cohorts of the Dare to Lead™ program for TAPS Survivors across the nation. Several TAPS Survivors are super-alumni and have completed multiple cohorts (version 1, 2, and 2.1) of the Dare to Lead™ program. They include: Luann Rodgers (Texas), Wendy Hazlett (California), Ken Naglak (Pennsylvania), Angela Oey (New Jersey), Dominic Macaya (California), Kizzy Zinnermon (Virginia), Linda Moore (Maryland), Brianna Dozier (Florida), Denise DeRamus (Alabama), Sandra Indrathaher (Virginia), Susan Rogers (Florida), and Laurie Whitham (Oregon). The courage and commitment demonstrated by all of our graduates is an inspiration.

“The Dare to Lead™ program helped me to reduce the level of shame I was carrying and to feel more comfortable with being vulnerable. I was carrying a lot of heavy emotions when I signed up for Dare to Lead™. And, the burden of all this was exhausting. But the lessons we did in Dare to Lead™ — and the discussions with others in our weekly sessions — helped me to put things into better perspective."

✯ Sara Wilson, Surviving Spouse of CAPT David S. Wilson, U.S. Navy, Ret

"As a 6th grade teacher, Dare to Lead™ has been a pivotal part of my life. I learned so many things that prepared me to engage today’s world. I wish I had learned these skills 30 years ago."

✯ Susan Rogers, Surviving Daughter of U.S. Army SGT Dolphus Rogers


Dare to Lead™: A Survivor’s Experience

In the spring of 2020, we all experienced the terrible reality of how quickly life can change once again. As if our loved ones’ deaths hadn't affected our quality of life enough, now fear and isolation hit our worlds in a new way. After having become a widow in 2018, I handled the first month of Covid isolation OK; but as word came out it was going to be longer, I yearned for contact with people. 

TAPS began listing lots of interesting “Zoom” gatherings on their event calendar, and one of them was a workshop series titled Dare to Lead™ by Dr. Brené Brown. I had heard of her books, and even planned to read one of them eventually. When I saw the class advertised by TAPS, I registered because it would give me something to do on a Friday. At the time, I wasn’t able to focus enough to hold down a job. But I knew the information shared in this workshop series would be interesting and applicable, as I do a lot of volunteer work. And, learning new skills, especially communications skills, is always a plus.

Luann Rodgers

I was fortunate enough to be in the very first TAPS cohort led by Terri Williams, and there were often 50 to 60 people in attendance. We broke out into online discussion rooms twice per session, to get to know one another a bit and to hear Dr. Brené Brown speak on each subject. There were slides, a book to view, and always discussions on the material at hand. While some students were in the corporate world, many of us were stay-at-home moms or dads, some were still active-duty service members, and a few of us were there just for the sake of learning something new, fellowship, and to "Break Bread" as Terri would refer to it. What a fabulous experience to get to know others from around the country and their views and tips on handling situations.

I learned to ask myself:

  • Who is in my arena?
  • Do I work to "fit in" or do I “Belong" and what is the difference?
  • Is it the critic that counts?
  • Do I live into my values and if so, what are they?
  • What are the myths of vulnerability and  how are we taught what that looks like?
  • Do I brave trust or hide instead of addressing issues?
  • What story do I tell myself when conflict arises and is it correct? 

These questions and more showed me quickly that perhaps I wasn't as self-aware as I had presumed I was. Next, we moved into learning to rise and walking into our hard places after a failure or disappointment has been experienced:  How do I write the ending to my own story of setbacks, hurts, or failures? Do I own it or does it own ME?

This can of worms opened, and I discovered quickly that I have so much to learn. Realizing I had winged it thus far during my grief journey, I began then, in Dare to Lead™, to discover what type of leader I was and to evaluate the best choice to get the most productive results. 

As if this wasn't enough to challenge me, later in the course we started discussing "feelings" and how different generations are taught to make decisions, create boundaries, and resolve conflict at work and home so that all parties feel heard.

I am confident you now realize there is a wealth of knowledge in this course, and so much more than I have listed here. To date, I have taken Dare to Lead™ with TAPS four times and am still amazed at how much I have yet to learn. It is very meaty, and there are skills to be implemented by each of us—skills that will help us through our grief, and skills that help us to grow and be aware of how the loss of our loved one has changed us and our perspectives. 

If you are still unsure about this course, I encourage you to take a chance, sign up, and attend at least three sessions in a row. By then, I think you will find you are making new friends, learning more about yourself, and gaining new insights from other survivors.

✯ Luann Rodgers, Surviving Spouse of USMC Cpl Monte Glenn Rodgers

“Dare to Lead™…has completely changed my life. It’s about leadership; and when you get right down to it, leadership is about connecting with people — learning about them and how to care for them. And, really the first person you need to connect with is you — similar to our grief, you need to understand yourself and what it is you are going through to be able to care for yourself. 

It’s so incredible that TAPS and Dare to Lead™ are here to give people hope — grounded confidence, yes — but grounded hope. We know that our grief journey is going to be a long and arduous one, but slowly and surely we have grounded hope in the knowledge that we’re going to make it through.”

✯ Ken Naglak. Surviving Father of U.S. Navy ABHAN Joseph Min Naglak

New Cohorts in 2023

We welcome you to join us in 2023 for Dare to Lead™ Cohort 11 and Cohort 12!  Watch the TAPS Togethers event calendar for dates. Contact us at with any questions.