Generating ideas, connections, and action


Guest Blog | Risk-Taking for Racial Justice: Building Networks That Support Us


By The Minneapolis St. Paul Network Weavers Community of Practice


This June, the Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) Network Weavers Community of Practice hosted our semi-annual day long gathering. The topic was Risk-Taking for Racial Justice: Building Networks that Support Us. Our facilitation team collaboratively wrote this blog to share some of the learning and insights we gained from the event – we hope you enjoy!


Mishel House, Kirsten Johnson & Sindy Morales Garcia – Wilder Center for Communities

Scott Labott – Bush Foundation

Terri Thao & Chalonne Wilson – Nexus Community Partners

Susan Schuster – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Amanda Ziebell Mawanda – Propel Nonprofits


 read more »

What We are Learning from Our Work with Networks: Part II




In an earlier post I began to share our reflections as we asked ourselves at LLC, “How are we applying what we are learning from our work with networks to our own effort to become a network?” I described three key take-aways from our network building work: Support Self-organizing; Focus on Place; and Create a Communications Ecosystem. In the last post, I talked about Self-organizing, and this week I am going to talk about Focus on Place.


Focus on Place: In a number of our network building projects we have developed a healthy respect for place. Leadership programs that focus on specific regions or localities have an easier time organizing alumni networks for several reasons: the participants have greater access to each other and can meet up more easily; even when working on different issues, and for different organizations people and groups are more likely to intersect with each other around citywide issues; people are able to bring their local connections to a network effort in their own city; and participants share a sense of place that is often enriched by different perspectives and histories. In a recent network building project, we found that local meetups brought more energy to the network, and were more likely to activate self-organizing. When you are trying to shift systems, bringing people together across a city can also create more opportunities to work at the intersection of issues. 


 read more »

LLC Network Spotlight | Kiara Nagel



As an organization, we believe deeply in the power and importance of networks and shared leadership. LLC is made up not only of dynamic staff members, but also hundreds of folks collaborating across state lines and issues to share skills, co-create projects, and learn from one another. That’s why we’ve begun this new series of LLC Network Spotlights, where we interview active members of our network and make space for them to share their own experiences engaging in the practices of network leadership.  

We’re excited to share our first interview with Kiara Nagel, a strategist and trainer, who is also a facilitator in the WEB Network. We hope that you learn something new from her story, and we encourage you to share it with your networks as well! 


 read more »

How do we know if leadership programs are making a difference?










This is a question that people who fund and implement leadership development strategies grapple with, and there are no easy answers. Afterall, it’s tricky to isolate the leadership supports as the thing that made a difference when there are so many other things happening in people’s lives, and in the world. Still, for all of the time and resources we invest in developing leadership as a critical strategy for advancing equity and justice, we want to know that this is a good investment, and that we are doing our best.

 read more »

Get Ready For Creating Space 2019: Six Emerging Themes



LLC is excited to share with you our developing plans for Creating Space 2019. This year, rather than having one large national convening, we are instead planning three regional gatherings followed by a large national convening.We're currently planning to have convenings in the Bay Area, California, New York City, NY and Detroit, MI, September through November 2019. 


After joining LLC as Co-Director in March 2019, as part of my ongoing process, I began holding stakeholder conversations with members of the LLC network. One of the most common needs articulated was a desire for LLC to recommit to regional convenings. It was clear to me that people missed the intimacy and connection generated in smaller regional settings. Given the importance of place, it became obvious to LLC that regional convenings allowed those in the LLC network to center their work in context, in ways not reproduced in national gatherings.


So for 2019, we are hoping during the regional Creating Space events we'll dig into the theme of exploring how leadership development can support shifting power for justice. We imagine that each regional convening will approach the larger question differently, reflecting the unique conditions of each community.


 read more »

LLC Webinar Series | Everyday Equity: Practices, Principles, and Perspectives


Everyday Equity: Practices, Principles, and Perspectives with Renato P. Almanzor, PhD


August 14, 2019

10:00 - 11:30 PST | 1:00 - 2:30 EST


 read more »

The Staple Foods Network Project | Lessons Learned from a WEB Network Innovation Seed Fund Project


By MaryAnn Martinez


MaryAnn Martinez is a non-profit director and interdisciplinary food systems scholar. She is currently aPhD candidate at Antioch Graduate School of Leadership and Change. Her work is in place-based food systems, and community-based food networks as catalysts for social innovation and transformative change. In addition, MaryAnn has over 10 years of experience as a vegetable and livestock farmer, in both for-profit and social enterprises -


The History

In 2008, the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative began to assess what was necessary for a regional organic staple grain and bean value chain in Appalachia. Michelle Ajamian who, along with her partner Brandon, runs Shagbark Seed and Mill in Athens, OH, had the vision, and began to reach out and form relationships with others interested in staple foods. Ten years later, this informal collaborative had grown from a handful to several hundred farmers, bakers, millers, and others around the country who are focusing on local, heirloom and organic grains and beans. 


Now a for a bit of a necessary segue.....


Why a staple foods network? 

 read more »

LLC Webinar Series | Confronting Wicked Problems: 5 Strategies for Reimagined Leadership in the Social Sector


Confronting Wicked Problems: 5 Strategies for Reimagined Leadership in the Social Sector with Lynn Fick-Cooper


July 23, 2019

10:00 - 11:30 PST | 1:00 - 2:30 EST

  read more »

What We Are Learning From Our Work with Networks

LLC has been providing network building support to a number of emerging networks, and we ourselves are on a journey to be more network centric in our own work. Ericka, our fabulous new Co-Director, recently asked a great question, “How are we applying (or not) what we are learning from our work with other networks to ourselves?” Time to take a look in the mirror. Hopefully these three lessons and the strategies that suggest will be helpful to you as well.

Realistically, we are still a spoke and hub network, not where we would like to be at all. In the diagram below, notice the network image that looks like a bicycle wheel where most communications occur between the center (staff) and members of the network, rather than among members of the network. This image is a fair characterization of LLC at this point because most of our work is still directed by our staff with some experiments in supporting network driven initiatives intended to help move us along this spectrum to become a stronger multi-hub network with the ultimate goal of being a systems shifting network contributing to justice and equity.

 read more »

What it takes to shift Power

Perhaps because my background is in organizing and advocacy, for me the purpose of my work supporting leadership is to shift power. Looking at who has power and who doesn’t and then shifting that balance. 


I think we accomplish shifting power by actually creating opportunities for people with less power, marginalized and directly impacted people, to have real power over the conditions which impact their lives, not just “a voice” which power-holders can choose to hear or not. If we are to build leadership support structures that value equity we must intentionally assess and question how power and authority are distributed, in our society and in our institutions. 

 read more »