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LLC's Theory of Change and the Network Challenge

Over the past several months, we have been revisiting our Theory of Change as we plan on how to be most strategic in making progress as a small but mighty organization with a pretty lofty goal; changing how people understand what leadership is and how to develop it.  If you follow us, you know we have a point of view about needing to develop more inclusive, networked, and collective leadership.  As you will see in the image below we believe that in order to make progress on entangled complex problems, often referred to as “wicked problems,” we need to get much better at leading and learning together across complex systems.   We also believe that we have been too narrow in looking at leadership as the behavior of an individual without understanding leadership as a process by which many people take action in solving society’s issues.  In fact, we are up against some entrenched ideals about individuals that are deeply embedded in the dominant culture of the US and the ways that we think about leadership.   Clearly, it will take many of us working together to shift our current leadership consciousness, a shift referred to in the diagram below as a meta shift.

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Demystifying LLC’s Webinar Series

 

The last two months have been a great time for LLC’s Webinar Series all due to having wonderful volunteers from our community who have stepped up and shared their knowledge with all of us. To keep this momentum going, we have been lining up more webinars in the coming weeks, more info on these soon. We have been reflecting on how we can demystify and decentralize the process so more webinars can continue to happen.


Ideally, we like to partner with individuals, organizations, movements, networks, partnerships, etc. that conceive, conduct, and evaluate leadership. To us, leadership is a process of collaboration and we uphold models that create social change through their work. Many programs do not realize that they have much to contribute to the field.

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Guest Blog by Cynthia Chavez: The Promise and Potential of Place-Based Leadership Programs

LS Participants Team-BuildingIn the early 1990s, I had an inspiring mentor, Dr. Norm Brown, then-President of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Dr. Brown was a great believer in the value of nonprofit leadership development. He encouraged me to participate in a variety of such national programs. Dr. Brown also enthusiastically introduced me to the concept of place-based leadership development. His excitement was contagious: for 15 years now, I have been at the helm of LeaderSpring, an Oakland, California-based organization that explores the power and promise of leadership development within a place-based strategy.

Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity, the new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), invites further exploration into the impacts of place-based leadership development strategies. The growing interest in place-based initiatives complements what we’ve realized for some time – that place-based approaches offer effective strategies to boost impact, especially in addressing issues like poverty. The field also has accumulated a critical mass of experience and informed insight on such initiatives. LeaderSpring’s 18 years of combining a place-based strategy with a peer-based cohort leadership development model yields some core reflections:
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Building Networks and Movements for Social Justice

Building Networks and Movements for Social Justice

Lessons from the Pioneers in Justice Leadership Program

By Heather McLeod Grant and Daniel Lee

As leaders of nonprofits know, the social sector is at a critical inflection point, with external forces challenging many of our old ways of working. As the Leadership Learning Community (LLC) and others have written, new technologies are disrupting traditional approaches and breaking down silos within and between organizations. Simultaneously, collaboration and "networking" is becoming the new norm, rather than the exception.

In response to these trends, in 2010 the Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF) launched a program called Pioneers in Justice, offering intense support to a cohort of Bay Area Gen X leaders who had recently become executive directors of legacy social justice organizations. Over the past few years, with more than $3M invested in capacity-building, collaboration grants, and convening for peer learning, the program has helped these nonprofits leaders build their social media skills, transform their organizations, and mobilize larger networks and movements to drive greater social impact.

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Walking The Talk

As Americans continue to explore racial disparities, we are seeing an increase of conversations. This month alone, coffee-giant Starbucks wanted to jump into the conversation. Although the execution failed for many reasons (haphazard decision without enough preparation, failure to fund a strong execution, did not plan for their customers’ time constraints, and more[1])  the conversations continue every day.

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Sneak Preview: Leadership Development and Large Scale Change

Over the past six months, LLC has taken a deep dive into the question of “leadership for what?”  For example, leadership development programs are often designed with the hope that participants will make more progress on tough social issues; like climate change or income disparities; and that the leadership development  support they have provided will have played some part in this progress on what we are referring to as large scale change.  We are challenging ourselves to raise our expectations; that in addition to individual growth and development we can and should understand the contribution of our leadership development work to changes in communities, improved outcomes for a population of people, or even changes in a system. 

The good news is that we have ample opportunity for learning about leadership and large scale change because we are seeing a shift in the desired results of leadership development and even in the results that are being monitored and evaluated.  During a meeting, where LLC brought together fifty funders and evaluators at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in October 2014, participants were asked to map the results they were seeking on a change continuum, pictured below, that indicated the following change levels from left to right: individual, organization, community, network, movement, field, culture, systems, and population level. The post-its above the line reflect desired results and are placed under the appropriate change level headings.  Post-its below the blue line indicate which of the results will be or are currently being measured.  

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LLC Webinar Series | Leading for Results: From Collective Impact to Large-Scale Social Change

 

Presenters: 

  • Ashley B. Stewart, Senior Associate, Talent and Leadership Development, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Michelle Martin, Chief Operating Officer, Northside Achievement Zone

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Webinar Recap: Building a National Network of Leaders: Replicating the BCLI (March 2015)

Building a National Network of Leadership: Replicating the BCLI
Presenters:  Uma Viswanathan and Terri Thao | March 2015


The Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) is a six-month fellowship that trains and places advocates from low-income communities of color onto local and regional boards and commissions through the Bay Area. Preparing mid-career leaders to leverage and enhance their knowledge, skills, and networks to enter political life, the BCLI is not just an individual leadership development program. It is a strategy to change the face of politics, creating a network of diverse and representative leaders who move racially and economically just policies at all levels of government. 
 
During this webinar, BCLI directors Uma Viswanathan (Urban Habitat) and Terri Thao (Nexus Community Partners) provided an overview of this innovative program and shared their discoveries about the replication process as partners from different regions and organizations. Participants engaged in dialogue about potential future replications, including individual leader, organizational, and regional readiness for this type of program.

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Continuing To Commit To Racial Equity

 

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As many of you are aware, in the recent months a growing movement is changing perspectives in many communities. People have taken to the streets, conversations have started not only in the privacy of homes but also through social media about how #BlackLivesMatter. LLC has engaged many of you through our own articles and we are continuing to work with the Racial Equity Leadership Network here in Oakland to dive deeper into these important conversations on how we can all contribute to tearing down and healing from the systems of racism we are all a part of.

 

Towards my own growth in that work, I am always looking for tools and opportunities to reflect. I was therefore open to read about the work of UC Berkeley’s Department of African American Studies in their most recent publication; “Insurgency: The Black Matter(s) Issue.” This issue is a collaborate composition of 20+ writers submitting their personal stories and perspectives to attempt to encapsulate the complexity that is the Black experience in the United States. In the opening statement “About This Issue,” the department recognized that this publication is highly academic and analytical, and yet it portrays so many perspectives and stories from voices not typically heard in the mass media.

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