Generating ideas, connections, and action


Open Minds, Open Hearts: Developing People

Miriam Persley responds to: How Can Leadership Development Programs Make a Difference in the Challenges of Tackling Racism?


Trayvon Martin’s death was a symptom of a larger problem. Our society is littered with inequities. With time, legalized racism has evolved from physical segregation into something that is “happening at nanoseconds at subliminal levels, not conscious levels,” as Maya Wiley[1] argues. It is this subconscious racism which is embedded in our social system, and therefore into other systems as well. The symptoms are all there to corroborate this. We see the symptoms of racism in the criminal justice system,[2]  further corroborated by the discrepancy of “underrepresented minorities’” admissions into colleges,[3] as well as by the data on income distribution[4] or the percentages of children below poverty,[5] none of which reflect racial equity. All these symptoms come back to racism; its roots in American history of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism. The problem is not one of Black vs White, this in itself ignores the American reality of others that are outside of the White or Black communities[6] and those that are of mixed descent. Rather this is a social problem which affects everyone.

 read more »

Creating Space for a More Skillful Dialogue on Racial Equity

Eleanor Cooney responds to: How Can Leadership Development Programs Make a Difference in the Challenges of Tackling Racism?


I entirely appreciate Deborah's writing, How Can Leadership Development Programs Make a Difference in the Challenges of Tackling Racism?, and want to revisit and put emphasis on her point that at our Creating Space meeting in May, it was clear that we need to do a more skillful job of talking about racial equity. It sounds like Deborah’s use of “we” refers to our learning community in general, but here I would like to make a distinction.

 read more »

Cross- Cultural Bias and Leadership

Lauren Rodriguez responds to: How Can Leadership Development Programs Make a Difference in the Challenges of Tackling Racism?


In light of the Trayvon Martin verdict last week, at LLC our staff has begun to have multiple conversations about systems of oppression and implicit racial bias in the United States.

But what does the Trayvon Martin Verdict mean for leadership development programs? What are the responsibilities of these programs or practitioners to respond to systems of implicit bias?  Deborah started to answer this question in her article on Leadership Development helping to dismantle systems of racial oppression two weeks ago and LLC has also addressed this in its seminal article on Leadership and Race. However following our messy discussions from Creating Space X back in May, we emerged from the conference more aware of the readiness of many to make equity front and center in their own leadership work. The Trayvon Martin Verdict and the release of the film “Fruitvale Station,” based on the last days of Oscar Grant’s life, has highlighted lived oppressions of inequity and implicit racial basis that exists in our society; and these issues have been put front and center for a national dialogue. But I challenge our community to take our analysis further- leadership development programs need to understand the complicated systems of cross cultural racism.

 read more »

Building Common Ground

Natalia Castañeda responds to: How Can Leadership Development Programs Make a Difference in the Challenges of Tackling Racism?


As part of this conversation, one of our colleagues started with the question “what can we, as people involved in leadership, do about situations like this – how can leadership development be an intervention for social change?” It was an interesting question that got me thinking about what is my role, as an individual, and the role of others around me. At LLC, we believe that everyone is a leader, and that leadership is a process through which individuals and groups act on behalf of a larger purpose.  So the question about what can those involved in leadership development do about it is not enough, because it’s not only an issue that affects the leadership development sector, but our society as a whole.  Situations like this are reminders that we cannot ignore the issue of inequities any longer, and that we all have to take steps to try to solve it – even if that means just starting to talk about it in an authentic way, not only with your group of peers who may share your views, but more importantly with others who may share different views, to try to understand each other and build some common ground.  

 read more »

Follow up on Making Social Identity Part of Community Leadership Development Webinar: Guest Blog Post by Kelly Hannum

Note: This is a follow up article for the recent webinar on Making Social Identity Part of Community Leadership Development, featuring Kelly HannumTim Leisman, and Stephanie Walker of Center for Creative Leadership®

Learning Leadership Together


I’ve called the Leadership Learning Community (LLC) one of my “homes” for over a decade.  LLC has allowed me to participate in a learning environment that unleashes innovative thinking by tapping into broad perspectives and creating a welcoming place for people to share lessons, tackle tough problems, and think together about new frontiers. It’s a community open to new ideas and where I have gotten or refined ideas. I have the privilege to work for an organization, the Center for Creative Leadership, focused on leadership development. I am surrounded by people who know a lot about, and have a lot of experience, in leadership development across sectors, across countries, across ages, across about anything you can think of, but there’s nothing like LLC to round out my thinking. I recently co-hosted a webinar for the Leadership Learning Community monthly webinar series about a project I am working on that is developing a curriculum that applies social identity concepts within a community leadership development program. More specifically, we aim to build awareness about social identity dynamics in people and communities to help enable individuals and groups to work together more effectively in order to achieve “common good” community outcomes. It is not easy stuff. Open networks where we can come together to share information, provide support for each other, and challenge ourselves to think in new ways (or at least become aware of new perspectives) are one of the best ways I know of to tackle some of the complex issues we face in a transparent and more inclusive way.

 read more »

Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight: LINC Community Revitalization, A model

Last week I was able to speak with Darel Ross and Jorge Gonzalez from LINC Community Revitalization in Grand Rapids. I am inspired to share the story of our conversation with our community since we are passionate about the LINC model of community change focused on promoting collective impact, racial justice and civic engagement.


Why is LINC demonstrating important models of Leadership development?


LINC is an example of leadership hiding in plain sight, because of its holistic approach to revitalizing communities and neighborhoods in Kent County, Michigan. Holistic means that to establish healthy communities, LINC tackles issues such as affordable housing, community engagement, economic development, and education as well as provides personal coaching through place making activities and community activism. Central to LINC’s mission is the belief that everyone is a leader and that creating spaces for community residents to have authentic conversations about community issues, builds indigenous capacities to create change. 

 read more »

Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight: Greater Grand Rapids Racial Equity Network (GGRREN)

This year LLC will be keeping an eye out for Leadership Development Programs Hiding in Plain Sight. This “New Leadership Development Mindset” acknowledges that Leadership Development also happens outside of what most of us expect Leadership Development to look like. The differences may seem banal, but when asked by our community what these programs actually looked like, we realized that there are many exciting examples of how leadership is being developed in the context of work, like the RE-AMP case study. Examples like the RE-AMP are hard to spot because they do not call themselves leadership development and do not fit the mold. (If you aren’t familiar with RE-AMP, no worries check out this LLC webinar on RE-AMP). Although this model is a great example, some of us learn through multiple examples, so we at LLC have been scouting to provide more concrete examples.  Here is another.

 read more »

Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight: The Energy Action Network (EAN)

As part of our Leadership Hiding in Plain Sight theme, we will be featuring innovative leadership approaches in the upcoming LLC monthly newsletter issues.  As we discussed in our New Leadership Development Mindset article, we are interested in identifying, analyzing, and promoting leadership as a process that includes approaches that fall outside of the traditional definition of leadership development that supports individuals (i.e. formal leadership programs with cohorts, etc.)  While we think those traditional programs are important, they don’t tell the entire leadership story.  What is missing are approaches that don’t necessarily operate in a traditional leadership development space, but are certainly supporting individuals and organizations who engage in joint work in the network.  We are also looking at processes that build the capacity of individuals and groups in identifying common purpose and aligning their efforts to achieve greater impact.  Beth Tener, who has been part of the LLC community for years and organizes Learning Circles in Boston, recommended that we reach out to Jennifer Berman, former Executive Director of the Maverick Lloyd Foundation and from 2009 to 2012 the coordinator of the Energy Action Network (EAN) in Vermont.  We talked to Jennifer earlier this week to get the scoop on the EAN network strategy and the leadership dynamics of the network – here is what we found out.

 read more »

2013 Webinar: Developing Social Change Leaders | Tues. Aug. 6, 2013

Presenters: Carmen Morgan and Povi-Tamu Bryant of Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR)
Topic: Developing Social Change Leaders: 
Practices and Perspectives on Fostering an Intersectional Approach to Identity and Social Justice 
Date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 | 11:00am – 12:00pm PDT

  read more »

The Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) program has been training leaders for social change since the early 1990s, when it was founded by a multiracial coalition of organizations led by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. The program's curriculum prioritizes the growth of participants' analyses around race, gender, class, ability, and more, alongside the development of effective facilitation and communication skills. This presentation will provide insight into the rationale and values behind LDIR's pedagogy, challenges seen and lessons learned over time, and brief examples of how we currently get participants thinking and acting on race, gender, class, privilege, and other facets of identity in an intersectional, allied way. 

LLC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Community Vitality Advisor, Jane Leonard

Understanding, Measuring, and Leading Complex Community Change Work


Jane Leonard is a community vitality advisor currently in private practice based in St. Paul, Minnesota. We met Jane in 2011 when Jane contracted with LLC to conduct a scan of leadership development work in MN, SD, and ND.  We were excited about this work because we shared a passion about community leadership or how to build the leadership capacity of a community to tackle it issues and thrive.  Jane was able to be a great bridge between the leadership development and community development fields.  In fact, she’s the recent (this month) recipient of the Community Development Society’s Duane L. Gibson Distinguished Service Award for her long-standing and superior contributions to the field of community development and to CDS.


She’s quick to point out that CDS, an organization that believes in and promotes inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches to community development, has helped her as much as she has helped it.  “I’m someone who sees and acts on connections everywhere – connections that are necessary and helpful for people, communities, and organizations to be resilient and vital in an era of great complexity and constant change.”

 read more »