Generating ideas, connections, and action


My Brother’s Keeper through the Lens of Leadership & Race

Oakland is a hot bed for innovation and collaboration. While recognizing the diverse cultures that make this city vibrant, it is also a community that has been plagued by violence, economic disparities, racial tensions, and questionable public services.  One thing Oakland does not lack is a commitment to improvement; a determination to better our schools, neighborhoods, and infrastructure in the hope that these will support our community to thrive.  Oakland has been the center of controversy, such as the Oscar Grant shooting, the Occupy Movement, and the constant barrage of violence combatted by and at times even committed by the police department.  This upheaval has also inspired people to work together more intentionally; to reframe the dialogue so that Oakland can transform from a city of violence and poverty, into a community where social justice is alive and well, and where change is on the horizon.


Despite these challenges, Oakland is home to many nonprofits and organizations that are working for change.  In addition, Oakland is on the top of the list for My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative recently launched by President Obama focused on building ladders of opportunity for boys and young men of color. The program aims to support them to stay on track to reach their full potential.  The President called on foundations, governments, the private sector, and local businesses to pool resources and expertise to get the initiative off the ground immediately.  With a keen eye on Oakland, the initiative not only looks at critical points of intervention for young men and boys of color but also is committed to changing the narrative about these often stereotyped members of our communities.

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Oakland Culture Guru: Tips for Visiting the Sunny Side of the Bay

If you are visiting Oakland for our upcoming Creating Space event on May 5th – 7th, here are some helpful tips for getting to know our wonderful city. 


The Bart is just one of our fabulous public transit systems; it will get you to and from San Francisco in no time and if you are a baseball fan, Bart will get you right to A’s Stadium in Oakland or the Giant’s Stadium in San Francisco.  You can also use AC Transit for all your in-town getting around.  In Downtown Oakland there is a free shuttle that runs on Broadway Street all the way to Jack London Square, where you will find hot restaurants, a water front view, actual history from the gruff Jack London himself and a farmers’ market every Sunday!  While you are down in Jack London Square, be sure to stop by Souley Vegan to grab a tofu burger and vegan desserts like you’ve never had before.


On your way back, if you are walking up Broadway, take a stroll through Old Oakland for a glimpse into the entrepreneurial nature of our city.  A group of local business owners and organizations came together to form Pop Up Hood to incubate small businesses and help them move into the marketplace surrounded by other likeminded business owners.  There is also a farmers’ market on Fridays in Old Oakland.

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Announcing the Catalysts

Creating Space XI 2014 | Design Challenge Catalysts

Heather McLeod Grant
Creating Space XI Contribution
The Design Challenge Session:  Heather will share a design opportunity presented to her when she was invited to help create the New Leadership Network for the James Irvine Foundation.  After participants have their hand at designing with the same parameters and expectations Heather will reveal the program design she and her colleagues created. From McLeod-Grant Advisors, Heather is a well-known author, speaker, and was most recently a Global Account Manager at Monitor Institute, where her work focused on scaling impact, leveraging networks for social change, and transforming large-scale nonprofits. 

Michael Mcafee 
Creating Space XI Contribution
Program Design Challenge: Michael will share a design opportunity he had to develop a leadership program for the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink.  After participants work in teams to make design recommendations in line with the desired results for the Promise Neighborhoods leadership program, Michael will share the elements of the program that he helped to design. As Senior Director at PolicyLink and Director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute also at PolicyLink, Michael oversees the Institute’s strategic direction and implementation of strategies that mobilize neighborhood leaders to build communities of opportunity.



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Creating Space At Our Table: Presenting A Sliding Scale Registration Fee for CSXI

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Leadership Learning Community is excited to be hosting Creating Space XI: Tools for Transformation -
Supporting Inclusive, Networked and Collective Leadership.

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Where Leadership meets Intersectionality: The Gender Gap, Sexuality, Race, and Equality

 “In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.” – Audre Lorde


Audre Lorde self-identified as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.”  If I use five words to self-identify it would be feminist, lesbian, sister, daughter, and writer. Let me clarify by saying that I am writing this as a white, middle-class lesbian having the privilege to work in the social sector.   I am a product of intersectionality and bring these lenses to the work I do within my communities.   As a woman, I am part of the 47% percent of the labor force that is female as cited in the recently released Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink.  Although I am not part of the 62% of minimum wage jobs held by women, I continue to be paid 77 cents for every dollar the average man earns.  This is even worse for African American women who are paid only 70 cents to the dollar and 26% of whom are living in poverty.  Sexism, combined with anti-gay bias and compounded by systemic racism, can result in severe economic disparities for lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women of color.   

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Can leadership strategies catalyze innovation, networks, and radical change and if so, how are they doing it?

In 2013 LLC published “Leadership and Collective Impact”, a guide for strengthening the impact of leadership development work.  The publication highlights leadership strategies that contribute to more tangible progress on tough issues like health access or school readiness or neighborhood safety. Recommending that programs consider introducing a systems thinking module or that they help participants become more comfortable with social media will require new tools, models and resources.  This year, LLC’s national meeting, Creating Space XI, (CSXI) will focus on introducing and developing resources that can help leadership programs retool and experiment with new strategies.  In preparation for CS XI we will be highlighting the exciting and innovative work of this year’s participants.  This is just a teaser of more to come at CSXI so don’t forget to register.

As we scouted the field we found one program that is implementing many of the ideas that LLC has been recommending to promote leadership that is more inclusive, networked and collective.  And, the program is getting impressive results, even as a new program.  We are enthusiastic about sharing some highlights from this program now and we are especially excited about what they will bring to Creating Space.  In 2011 the James Irvine Foundation invested in a regionally based leadership network in the San Joaquin Valley based on feedback solicited from focus groups with young leaders.  I had a brief chance to speak with Heather McLeod-Grant, of McLeod-Grant Advisors who is the Managing Director for the James Irvine Foundation New Leadership Network in San Joaquin Valley.
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March Newsbrief

This month, as you walk into Preservation Park, where the LLC offices are located in downtown Oakland, there are a few noticeable differences in the flora and fauna. We see the cherry blossom trees and roses blooming and the birds seem to be chirping louder. As we begin this Spring season, we deliver a few leadership resources to guide and rejuvenate you in your work. Happy Spring time!


On Leadership and Networks
Check out the Interaction Institute for Social Change’s Curtis Ogden’s book review of Mila Baker’s Peer-to-Peer Leadership: Why the Network is the Leader.  The book calls for a network mindset change in paradigm with regards to solving complex social problems. Looking to networks and their organization might be the key to unlocking greater adaptability, resilience, and collective potential. At LLC we are incorporating social network analysis to  our consulting work and mapping the networks of leadership programs.  If you want to learn more about network science check out the free PDF book published by the Network Science Project that goes into the beauty of network visualization.

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Reflections on Star Power: A Simulation

At the end of February, the Leadership Learning Community hosted the powerful learning simulation known as Star Power. In partnership with facilitators Dave Nakashima and Kathleen Rice, LLC was able to offer this tool used by some leadership programs for no cost to our community. Star Power is a powerful learning simulation that is meant to demonstrate how systems of oppression are experienced in our societies. Whether at the community, organizational or systems level, Star Power is a powerful demonstration of societal conditioning and its effect on individuals and how this gets carried out into policies, practices and belief systems.  As much as Star Power is meant to be a tool for self-learning, it is also meant to be an experiential learning opportunity to examine institutionalized segregation and difference that make up our daily lives.  With about 20 participants, we engaged in a half day event complete with community building and a debriefing session as bookends to the simulation. While certainly many of us that participated are continuing to debrief and reflect on what we learned, the LLC staff has aggregated our thoughts on our different experiences in the simulation in an effort to start a dialogue on disruption and how the role of leadership that is more inclusive networked and collective can play a role in this disruption.
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