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The Bakery Leadership Circle

Did you miss our Bakery Leadership Circle info session?  You can watch the recording here.

The next session of the Bakery Leadership Circle begins on July 29, 2024.  Applications are open now.  Watch this page, our Instagram and our newsletters for information and updates.

There comes a time at every bakery when the goals you aspire to or the challenges you face are just out of reach.  
A time when the questions you’re asking change in tone and scope. When your standard ways of solving problems don’t work any more, or you find yourself grappling with the same problems again and again.  
Times when technical problems like sourcing ingredients or scheduling production give way to broader challenges like retaining staff, deciding whether to expand, or having a difficult conversation with a team member.  
We call these broader issues adaptive challenges, and they require a different set of tools to overcome.  Adaptive challenges are often too big to solve on your own; you benefit from having peers and allies looking at the issue along side you.
The Bakery Leadership Circle is a new program designed specifically to help bakery owners and operators work through their most important adaptive challenges and achieve success in your business as you define it.  

What is the Bakery Leadership Circle?

  • A three-month program in which a cohort of bakery owners and operators identify, discuss, and develop plans to address their most important adaptive challenges.  
  • An opportunity to learn tools and techniques to improve your leadership and problem-solving skills, while working on your specific adaptive challenges.
  • A process grounded in a facilitated peer-consulting framework designed to foster mutual growth and learning.
  • A platform for cultivating a network of trusted peers to support each other long after the workshop ends.

How does it work?

The Circle will meet weekly on Zoom to develop your leadership skills and to work through a facilitated peer consulting exercise.  Within the peer consulting exercises, members will identify real-life bakery challenges and the group will share insights to spark new ideas and solutions.

Outside of the Zoom sessions, Circle members will have access to a private discussion forum, where they can share ideas, dig deeper into challenges and receive feedback.

By the end of the workshop, you will develop one or more actionable goals to implement at your bakery.  Plus, the Circle will continue to meet for regular updates in October and November; helping you stay accountable to take action at your bakery.

Who should participate?

The Circle is for owners and senior-level operators of all types of bakeries that have been in business for at least 3 years and that employ teams of 5 or more employees.

What will you gain from this program?

  • Improved business operations and performance
  • Leadership skills
  • Effective approaches to team management
  • Improved job quality
  • A supportive peer group
  • Clear business goals and a path to achieve them
  • Clarity and confidence

Tuition for the program is $795.

Apply Now.

Admission to the Bakery Leadership Circle is by application.  Our next application cycle will begin on May 4, 2024.

Want to learn more?  Email Karen Bornarth ( to schedule a time to talk. 

Program Facilitators:

Mark Dyck is the creator and host of Rise Up! The Baker Podcast featuring conversations with professional bakers and bakery owners from around the world.  He is the founder of, a global community of bakery owners working together to build successful, sustainable bakeries.  

A Guild member since 2008, Mark previously owned Orange Boot Bakery in Regina, Saskatchewan with his wife Cindy.  He later ran a ‘secret’ brick oven bakery for a private group of friends and neighbours. 

Mark is an experienced facilitator and coach, helping leaders tell better stories and make meaningful change.  He has a wealth of experience in building safe, inclusive online spaces that enable participants to be open, vulnerable and build strong peer relationships.  Mark was a coach at the altMBA program from 2018 - 2022 and was Head Coach of the Story Skills Workshop for the first eight sessions of the program.  In 2018, he was co-founder and Chief Community Advocate of The Right Company, an online community for creative entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Karen Bornarth is Executive Director of the Guild, and has been a member for more than 20 years.  In her work, she supports bakery owners and professional bakers to achieve success in their baking practices and businesses through education, training and community-building events.

Before joining the Guild as ED, Karen spent 8 years with Hot Bread Kitchen, a nonprofit in New York City.  At HBK she developed an initiative to improve job quality and business performance in small food businesses, and oversaw a team to design and deliver a dynamic workforce development program.

Karen launched her career at Guild member bakery Amy’s Bread where she worked her way up from packer to supervisor while teaching part-time at the Artisan Baking Center. The French Culinary Institute provided her the opportunity to focus her passion for teaching; she spent five years as the lead instructor and coordinator of their bread department, improving the curriculum and creating new classes for both professional and amateur students. She also worked for four years at Le Pain Quotidien, where she managed its Bleecker Street demonstration and teaching bakery, and then transitioned to product development, quality control and training on a national level.

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