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Collaborating from the Place of Common Ground

Written by Beth Tener

Case Study of the Energy Action Network of Vermont

While the news is full of partisan politics, an alternative model is emerging for how to make progress in addressing large scale challenges: collaborative networks. Through network initiatives, parts of a system can come together, find common ground, and pursue solutions and collective action from those points of agreement. The Energy Action Network (EAN) in Vermont is a compelling example of this approach. EAN not only created a way to find common ground among people/organizations with divergent views, but also created a structure for on-going collaboration toward a goal that is decades away. At the December 2013 Leadership Learning Community Boston Learning Circle, Jennifer Berman shared the story of EAN’s formation and Andi Colnes, the Executive Director of EAN, shared how collaborative work has continued in a networked way. Their story and the discussion offered many valuable insights about how networks can affect change in a large system and what collaborative leadership means.

Jennifer shared the impetus for EAN. As Executive Director of Maverick Lloyd Foundation, a family foundation in Vermont, she received many proposals for similar and overlapping work, by organizations that were not connected. As the Foundation explored how to fund work focused on environmental issues, “we talked to about 40 people across the state and no one had same interpretation of the problem and no one agreed on a solution.” The foundation took an innovative approach to EAN logoinvest in a process to bring together diverse people who had not worked together from across the energy system, build a common sense of the problem, set an audacious goal, and align the work of many players to move toward the goal. Today, EAN is a collaborative network of over 70 non-profit, business and government leaders working to ensure that 90% of Vermont’s 2050 energy needs come from renewable energy and energy efficiency. read more »

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Supporting Community Entrepreneurship: What’s Money Got to do With It?

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Detroit sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation called “Building Networks for Change”, #BNFC13. The meeting explored a number of important themes that included community organizing, advocacy and racial justice. I was excited that one of the site visit was to the Detroit Community Connections Grant Program, a program we have written about in earlier blogs as an innovative approach to leadership development…one worthy of our attention. The Detroit Community Connections Grant Program is administered by Prevention Network and funded by an innovative funding arrangement between The Skillman Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The opportunity to see this program up close only strengthened my conviction and understanding of the unique value of their approach. Social entrepreneurship as a concept has been popularized in the past couple of decades by programs like Ashoka and Echoing Green that focus on young people with new ideas for producing social innovation that are supported to launch programs or projects that often become non-profit organizations. As I visited the Detroit Community Connections Grant Program, I found myself thinking about the idea of community entrepreneurs, people deeply rooted in their communities with neighbors, networks and constituents who are ready to be part of change. 

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Guest Blog Post: “Leadership Development Unleashed – The Power of Local Programs” ...and, BECAUSE SOMEONE ASKED!

By Mary Ann Hennen, Program Leader for the Leadership and Civic Engagement programs at the Center for Community Vitality University of Minnesota Extension

 

Leadership learning opportunities take on all shapes and sizes across our country, some more powerful than others, yet all delivered with good intention to build the capacity of others and help learners’ make the difference’ they seek in the world. This mission has driven me since I was one of those earnest undergraduate and graduate student leaders. In 1980, one of my undergraduate advisors, Dr. Kathy Allen, encouraged me to attend a summer leadership retreat at University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and I was hooked. The retreat was marvelous, and by its end, I was encouraged by another eventual mentor, Dr. Sara Boatman, to apply to their graduate program. Today, I work as Program Leader for Leadership and Civic Engagement (LCE) programs at the Center for Community Vitality (CV) at University of Minnesota Extension. In this role I have the opportunity to realize my lifelong interest in making leadership opportunities accessible to those of all backgrounds, stages and sectors. With the complexity of our society today, we know that mindful and skilled leadership is critically necessary to help us all move forward with success, and nowhere can this need reveal itself than in our local communities.

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Nonprofit Leadership Newsbrief: Gratitude, Volunteering, and Advancing Racial Justice, November 2013

with GratitudeThis November, we honor the practice of giving thanks. We are especially grateful to our readers and to our learning community that is committed to transforming the way leadership is conceived and conducted for social change. We are very grateful to you all and we wish you and your loved ones warm wishes this holiday season. We have many reasons to count our blessings today; however, there is still a lot of work to be done. The links below reflect a commitment to cultivating gratitude and to collaborating with others to create greater change. The nonprofit leadership newsbrief will be taking a holiday break next month as we gear up for our community and foundation partnership donation campaign. With that said, we look forward to seeing you in the new year as we to continue to bring interesting leadership resources and events to you all!

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Creating Sustainable Social Change: Step 1

Courtesy of Maria Ramos-Chertok
Mayacamas Ranch, Calistoga, CA October 2013
Rockwood Art of Leadership: Women in Racial Justice

A subgroup of these women worked on the Charter for Humanizing the Social Sector

At the end of October, I participated in the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Art of Leadership for Women Leaders in Racial Justice and Human Rights, in Calistoga, CA. Twenty-seven women (including myself) and two facilitators learned, laughed, and connected deeply during a weeklong training. I participated to learn more about leadership development in practice, as well as to take a moment for self-reflection and evaluation. I can feel the change in myself and have been able to see others through a very different lens; having a deeper understanding of what impact leadership development can have on people and their organizations. There are countless moments of learning, but one particular conversation struck me very deeply. It was a collective conversation in a small group looking for long-term Personal Ecology strategies to maintain a lifetime of commitment to the social sector.

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Rooted in Love: Reflections on National Philanthropy Day

At its root, philanthropy means “love of humanity.” It is further defined as “the desire to promote the welfare of others expressed by the generous donation of money to good causes.” In practice, this is evident in our communities where money, time, and talent are offered to help foster change, and promote equity and opportunity. Every year, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) hosts National Philanthropy Day, a tribute to philanthropists and fundraisers who are changing the world. The AFP Golden Gate Chapter organized the event on November 4th, highlighting the exceptional work of nine individuals who are leaders and change makers. With more than 800 guests, National Philanthropy Day was a tremendous success. However, the success came not from the size of the event but the networks being developed throughout the philanthropic community – including those collaborating both on the donor side and the nonprofit organizations who benefit from their investments; that foster the change our communities, schools, economies, and individuals are determined to make happen.

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Join the Boston Learning Circle: Hear the Energy Action Network (Vermont) Story

Join the Boston Learning Circle:
Hear the Energy Action
Network (Vermont) Story

Friday, December 13, 2013 read more »

LLC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Learning Cluster Organizers Alex Carter and Jenifer Wagley

We proudly Spotlight two participants of this year’s Creating Space X who have generously accepted the challenge of organizing a learning cluster around the topic of Leadership and Networks: Alex Carter of the Safe Spaces Project, and Jenifer Wagley of Avenue CDC. We were fortunate to catch up with both Alex and Jenifer this month to hear about their current work and the stories of how they arrived there. We also get their thoughts on self-organizing as they launch the Learning Cluster. Check out last month’s Spotlight on Learning Cluster Organizers: Cheryl D. Fields and Mary Stelletello, to hear more about these informal virtual learning meetings. We encourage you to join the upcoming Learning Cluster call. If you are interested in organizing or participating in a Learning Cluster, contact Lauren@leadershiplearning.org.

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