The Chrysalis Group

 The Chrysalis Group was formed in 1994 by Dr. Nancy Millner, who spent her career as a life counselor. She started the Chrysalis Group in an attempt to support people in their own spiritual growth and help them find a meaning to life. Milner and about fifteen of her friends began meeting in a small space at the Lee Medical Building. As membership grew, Milner was able to establish a board of directors to manage the group’s funds, organize meeting times and events, and publish a newsletter. Milner passed away in 2007 at the age of 68. The Chrysalis Group has continued thanks to an endowment fund set up in Milner’s honor. The 200 members are determined to keep Milner’s dream alive and have recently moved the group to space located on Ellwood Avenue in Carytown. The group is administered by a president, secretary and treasurer.

The composition of the group is roughly eighty percent female and predominantly Caucasian, although there are a few African American members. Almost all of the members are over forty years of age. Chrysalis has expressed strong interest in increasing member diversity. Group members share an interest in personal growth and an openness to explore all traditions and faiths. Past workshops have focused on Christianity and the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism; the group has also worked with the Ekoji Buddhist Sangha. The Chrysalis Group group has hosted community and fundraising events at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Bon Air Presbyterian Church and continues to have a strong relationship with these churches.

The Gathering Space is available to outside groups for programs or community fundraisers, provided the organization and the topic are in alignment with the mission of The Chrysalis Group and Chrysalis members can attend. Both local presenters and internationally known speakers provide spiritually enriching programs for the Chrysalis community. All group activities are usually directed or overseen by a member of the board. This means that if an outside group is using the space, a Chrysalis board member will usually sit in to help with anything the group might need. Board members also facilitate their own programs. Events that take place can be hands-on activities, lecture type presentations, discussion groups or even silent gatherings. The basic service/activity structure of The Chrysalis Group consists of three types of activities. There are one-time workshops. Past workshops have included Artistic Photography, Gardening to Sustain Body, Mind and Spirit, The Science of Living from the Soul, and Spiral Dynamics. Workshops can last anywhere from one to four hours and there is at least one workshop offered every week.

The second type of program that The Chrysalis Group offers is practice groups. These groups are ongoing and meet weekly or monthly. Current practice groups include the Men’s Spirituality Group, which meets monthly on a weekday evening. The Enneagram Study Group meets twice monthly in the evening and focuses on the Enneagram theory of personality (Enneagram theory postulates that each personality type is based on a “fixation” that consists of some type of unconscious avoidance or fear) . There is a Shamanic Drum Circle that meets monthly and offers members a chance to explore their artistic side through music, dance and chant.

The last type of service The Chrysalis Group offers is events that all members are encouraged to attend. Soup and Soul is an event that takes place three to four times a year. It is hosted at a member’s home and is a retrospective of a pre-selected artist’s work. There is also an event that takes place at the beginning of the spring and fall seasons. The purpose of this event is to let members know of upcoming programs. Ember Days is a silent retreat that takes place twice annually in a Richmond public park and involves meditation. The group in the past has held workshops at several female prisons.

Most events and activities are open to the public and are hosted at The Chrysalis Gathering Space in Carytown. There is usually a small fee for each event, although members and students receive a discount. There is also an annual membership fee that is based on the member’s level of involvement in group activities. Members receive a yearly and monthly newsletter, discounted events, access to certain members-only events and access to an online member discussion board.

The Chrysalis Gathering Space
3527 Ellwood Avenue
Richmond , VA 23221

Chrysalis Gathering Space officer
Chrysalis Gathering Space website

Profile prepared by Veronica Bason
October, 2009