Generating ideas, connections, and action


Response to "Blind Spots (Part 2)" by Lisa Miller Mattsson

Dear Deborah,


Thanks so much for the powerful theme and the questions being raised by “Blind Spots: Are Leadership Development Programs Contributing to Greater Racial Equality or Inhibiting our Progress?”  Lots to think about!


I just wanted to share a thought regarding “worship of the written word” as a means of support for white supremacist culture.  It is definitely true that there are many valuable and powerful ways to communicate other than in writing. Personally, I believe effective oration to be more a powerful form of leadership communication than writing, as a general rule.  Even negative leaders know this, and use the spoken word to move people.  Hitler, the iconic example of white supremacist leadership, comes to mind.  He utilized the power of the spoken word as a means by which to stir and mobilize people.

 read more »

LLC Webinar Series | An Innovative Approach to Supporting the Leadership of People of Color

Earlier this month, we had a great webinar with the women of The WISE Network. Kenya McKnight presented on how leadership development can dismantle systemic racism. Leadership that comes from and for community creates lasting changes that transverse generations of oppression and inequity.

 read more »

Blind Spots (Part 2): Are Leadership Development Programs Contributing to Greater Racial Equity or Inhibiting Our Progress?

Last November on the heels of our annual national convening, Creating Space, I felt compelled to sharpen the discussion about the ways in which leadership culture can work hand in hand with white supremacy to reinforce the status quo unless we are vigilant in our collective efforts of uncovering the blind spots in our thinking and behavior.


I was inspired by Elissa Perry and Susan Misra, from Management Assistance Group, who described this process (referenced in part 1 of the Blindspot Series, “White Supremacy Culture” by Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones) of understanding how the 13 characteristics of white supremacist culture show up in their work. This is the rigor we need to upend white supremacy and enact equity across communities. In my last blog post, I took on Individualism, Paternalism and Urgency. This month I address perfectionism, objectivity and the worship of the written word.

 read more »

The Women’s March and #Metoo Reflections

I joined the Women’s March again this year in Oakland with 50,000 other women, children and men. I appreciated the call to action with a focus on midterm elections and... I think we need a much deeper conversation about leadership and democracy, who votes, who doesn’t and why (maybe next month). Being part of the march this year also caused me to reflect on an issue I have wanting to write about, #me too. It would probably be more accurate to say I have and haven’t wanted to write about it because it’s complex and emotionally triggering, as you can see from the machinations of my internal dialogue below.


 read more »

When Leadership Program Graduates Can’t Lead

More than once I have heard the complaint that leadership program graduates, excited to apply what they are learning, often find themselves thwarted by others back at work.  There are lots of reasons offered, bureaucracy, unsupportive supervisors, or lack of authority. There are also a number of remedies being tried...coaching, sessions on leading from the middle, and the recruitment of teams. These things may help, and yet until we address the most fundamental problem we are setting leadership graduates to fail, especially those from large institutions.


 read more »

LLC Webinar | Lessons from The Field: Leadership That Heals and Dismantles Systemic Racism

This past Tuesday, Vigilant Love shared how they’ve built community in Los Angeles to build resilient community. Vigilant Love started as a response Islamophobia after terrorist attacks in the US and here are some key lessons from their final report.

 read more »

Blind Spots: The Role of Leadership Development Programs in Inhibiting or Contributing to our Progress Towards Racial Equity

Since Creating Space, I have been doing a lot thinking about the ways in which leadership programs often promote leadership models that reinforce the dominant culture. At Creating Space, Design Team Member, Elissa Sloan Perry, Co-Director of Management Assistance Group, shared a presentation on how white supremacist culture shows up in our organizations based on an article by Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones. We focused most of the discussion at Creating Space on organizational culture, which I later realized cannot be separated from leadership culture because after all, most leadership programs are preparing participants to lead in an organizational context.


I strongly recommend their article. They share thirteen characteristics of white supremacist culture, all of which resonated, and for the sake of this article and beginning this discussion, I chose three to share that I think are provocative and reveal leadership characteristics being cultivated in leadership programs that help to reinforce white supremacists culture. (In future articles I will share additional characteristics.)

 read more »

Reflections on Equitable Design

I felt honored to be part of the Creating Space Design Team with an amazing group of leadership development funders, delivery partners, network and movement builders and racial justice champions. I was eager to learn from the team about how to create an event that would deepen our learning about the ways in which our approaches to supporting leadership for racial justice need to shift.  I did not have to wait until me met in New Orleans to begin learning. I was struck by the fact that some of our conversations were filled with questions that people creating leadership development programs should also be asking, e.g. how would we honor the whole person and multiple ways of knowing; what does it mean to assume good intentions and look at impact; how do we hold space for courageous conversations; how are we thinking about power and whose knowledge is privileged; and how do we build authentic community?
 read more »

The Action Learning Seed Fund’s Final Reports Next Month (November 2017)

2017 is quickly coming to a close. In mid January, we first announced our network’s Action Learning Seed Fund to support the leadership of people of color. At the time, LLC hoped that eight people would be able to join our selection committee to create eligibility criteria. To our humble surprise, 20 of you volunteered your time and in a matter of days we had a finalized application process, eligibility criteria, and even a selection and review process.


 read more »

Support the development and inclusion of voices of color today!

This Giving Tuesday, join us in supporting the advancement of social and racial equity in nonprofit leadership development.


This year, we committed ourselves to building a conversation around the importance of including diverse voices in nonprofit leadership. This looks like making space for leaders of color to thrive both in and outside of work.

We know that voices of color are often sidelined in discussions about leadership that privileges the mainstream dominant culture models. We also know that everyone should be able to join our work, independent of organizational budgets.

 read more »