Generating ideas, connections, and action

Is the Pipeline Metaphor Serving us Well?

We are excited to be writing the story of a program called On the Verge that is developing young leaders in Napa who are launching programs for emancipated youth, LGBTQ youth, young teachers and young parents. Many of these programs are being incubated through an umbrella organization, On The Move (OTM). We approached On the Verge about collaborating on a case study because we were excited about the impact the program was having on schools, neighborhoods, and its success in creating opportunities for young people to lead. Napa has a large Latino population (33%) and yet people of color are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions in business, government and the non-profit sector. On the Verge hopes to change this and has some big dreams about shifting the leadership demographics in Napa over the next ten years.


As Leslie Medine, the On The Verge founder shared stories about the young people who participated in their program, they are called Vergers, and what they are doing now, there was one story after another about Vergers who are creating new organizations and advancing within existing organizations, schools and agencies. They are in positions to create opportunities for each other and they are doing just that. Vergers, who have firsthand experience with each other’s skills and leadership abilities, are confidently hiring other Vergers. They are operating as an informal network that has begun to change the face of leadership and they are creating a strong network of collaborative leaders. As we thought about the On The Verge example we wondered if what is happening is more exponential than the image conjured up by a pipeline, the metaphor that is traditionally used to describe efforts to create new opportunities for specific groups that are being excluded on the basis of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status or other oppressions. We thought it might be beneficial to explore what might be the next metaphor, one that will stretch our imagination about what it will take to increase leadership equity and change the face of leadership in Napa and throughout the US.


At LLC we would like to convene a brown bag Learning Circle lunch in the Bay Area with some Vergers from the On the Verge Program as well as hear from you if you have ideas on the pipeline metaphor and strategies for leadership equity. Let us know if you are interested in joining us by emailing and keep an eye out for the On The Verge Story early next year.