Generating ideas, connections, and action


LLC Embarks on a Taproot Grant

LLC is excited to announce that we have been awarded a Taproot Service Grant for a Salesforce Implementation!  The Taproot Foundation provides pro-bono service grants to support the capacity of nonprofits to more effectively achieve their mission.  LLC has our sights on a strategic expansion over the next few years, prioritizing fundraising and relationship management as critical elements to successful growth and engagement.  Salesforce is an ideal solution for our organization as we have 15 years’ worth of data and contacts representing leadership development practitioners, members of the philanthropic community, evaluators, academics and community based organizations – throughout the United States and abroad.  Over the next six months, LLC will be working with a pro-bono team of five individuals who have extensive experience with database solutions for nonprofits.  The Taproot Team came to visit LLC this week to launch the project; we had dinner together and learned a little bit about each other to officially kick off the project.  The next step will be exploratory interviews with our team and stakeholders to understand exactly what LLC is looking to achieve Salesforce.  We will be scrubbing our data, looking at our history of relationships, donor profiles and convenings to generate a high-level view of our community.  Working with the Taproot Team, we’ll determine what types of reports we’ll need, how dashboard will be developed, and will be trained on how to use Salesforce.  
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We Are Developing Modules on Network Leadership and We Hope You Will Help!

LLC is about to embark on a cool new project and we want to invite you to join us.  We are going to be convening a community of practice on network leadership to examine what has worked to develop network leadership capacity and develop/prototype tools as well as practice approaches that build the capacity of leadership programs to better equip their participants to effectively utilize network strategies and tools.  The focal point of the Community of Practice will be a one day Design Lab to be held in September in the Bay Area lead by Heather McLeod-Grant who is a well-recognized author who has written about network strategies, Transformer: How to build a network to change systems and Forces for Good.  We also hope to hold a Design Lab in Boston. Everyone is invited, that is until we reach the size limit for the group.  Watch for the announcement if you are interested or write to let us know you want to participate.


Why this project? There are hundreds of formal leadership development programs focused on developing or supporting the leadership of thousands of nonprofit leaders every year. At the same time, non-profits are beginning to explore ways in which network strategies could increase innovation, reach and influence.  However, the leadership needed to build networks and move them to action requires new behaviors and skills that are often the antithesis of what is considered good organization management. 

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The Beloved Community: Systemic Change Starts with Systems

Cross sector partnerships. Collaboration.  Building coalitions. Networking.  All these concepts speak to the human experience, which by nature is social.  We desire to be connected to others who share our values, who live and work with us; we desire understanding and human contact to remind ourselves that indeed we are sharing this existence.  In writing this piece, I am inspired by (1) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beloved Community and (2) the White House Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper.  The overlap is undeniable if not critical to the success of our nation’s boys and young men of color.

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Making Time For Reflection: Lessons From History

Leaders strive to have a clear vision and purpose in their work. Without it, they risk being distracted, inefficient, and/or ineffective. To build this framework, they need to constantly act intentionally and evaluate themselves, their organizations, community, networks, and movements with this lens. Intentionality means being purposeful and deliberate in action. It is a great metric in the work and yet it can be very hard to make those intentional decisions when the results can be greatly unknown and the work vast.


Recently, I have been really reflecting on the journey towards marriage equality and the intentional and unintentional actions embedded in this long-fought journey. Not out of the blue either, since it’s LGTBQ Pride Month and the media has been promoting some of this history. Recently, PBS’ Independent Lens showcased the documentary “We Were Here,” which tells the story of gay San Franciscans in the 80’s at a time when AIDS was spreading unknowingly throughout the community and the response that many groups had to it and how they were able to fight for their survival against prejudice and social disdain. This, juxtaposed with another Independent Lens documentary, “The New Black,” intersected a different view. “The New Black” follows the fight of the black gay and lesbian community as they fought for equal marriage rights in Maryland in 2012 and how the community’s roots in Christianity as well as racial prejudice intersected around this issue.
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Guest Blog Post: Reflections On Creating Space | Odin Zackman

By Odin Zackman


When you change the way you look at things,

the things you look at change.

Max Planck


If we are to create the kind of leadership we need to affect transformative change in ourselves, our workplaces, and our communities, we need to create space—regularly—in our lives. We need to claim a time in our day and in our week to do what I call “big thinking” or just to be silent. We need to weave this space into our meetings with colleagues, so that we are not only focused on “getting things done” but in understanding why and how we are achieving our goals. And we need places annually or semi-annually that can serve as a pilgrimage of sorts—a place to return to that helps reconfirm our purpose in the world, reconnects us with colleagues aligned with our efforts, and renews us along the challenging path of seeking greater health, sustainability and justice.

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Personal Ecology: A Reflection on Community

Here at LLC, we have had a very active last few months; all of our work culminating in our national meeting, Creating Space XI. Since our last Creating Space in Baltimore, I participated in one of Rockwood Leadership Institute’s programs. We spent a generous amount of time learning Personal Ecology, which is the art of maintaining balance, pacing, and efficiency to sustain our energy over a lifetime of activism. Personal ecology is crucial to leadership development because without people doing the work on the ground, the field cannot sustain this work over time and we will not be able to see the results we want. We cannot have programs that are more inclusive, networked, or collective if we cannot sustain ourselves and our partners in this work.

Last year, for Creating Space X, we traveled to Baltimore. Although the meeting was a success and I had a lot of  fun interacting with our community, I must admit that I completely failed at maintaining balance.  The meeting momentum, the change in time zone, the 12-hour flight, plus all the unpacking and repacking, the three-days of waking up at 3am Pacific and going to bed late into the night, compiled by the running around, and a red-eye flight back home; all of that caught up to me the second I arrived home and my body finally gave into the exhaustion in the form of shingles. Yes, I came down with a case of shingles! Even the doctors were surprised that at my age I could get this, but it was a reminder, once again, that I do have physical limits. We all do, and when we are in complete imbalance we all have ways of knowing it; for some our bodies may give out,  for others they may lose the joy they find in their work, or some sacrifice everything outside of their work and lose the space and people that rejuvenate them.

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Guest Blog Post: Playing Cards for Culture Change | Eugene Eric Kim

Eugene helps groups learn how to come alive and collaborate more skillfully together. He spent ten years consulting with companies across different sectors, from Fortune 500 companies to grassroots movements. He’s now focusing his efforts on helping others develop the same skills that he uses to help groups. You can read more about him at his website, Faster Than 20.

The defining characteristic of Creating Space for me — and the reason I keep coming back — is the quality and diversity of the participants. Everybody is dedicated to learning about leadership development, and the design of the gathering supports us in truly learning from each other at a deep level.

Our most recent gathering offered the perfect opportunity for me to test a very early version of an idea I’ve had for several years now — mindset cards.

When I was a consultant, a lot of my work was about helping groups shift into more of a learning, collaborative culture. Peter Drucker has famously said that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and yet, the reality is that most groups do not pursue culture work intentionally. It seems hard and hand-wavy, and it’s safer to ignore it and hope it works itself out.

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Superpowers and Kryptonite: Practices for Cultivating a Mindset of Generosity

During Creating Space XI I initiated a design studio session during open space to take up the challenge of developing modules or practices that leadership development programs could use to cultivate a network mindset among the participants of their leadership development programs.  A group of 20 or so assembled over 75 minutes to see what we could develop.  We began by talking about what we meant by a network mindset.  We tried breaking it down into different mindsets, e.g. transparency, decentralized decision making, letting go of control, transparency, trust and generosity.   It was daunting but thankfully, Eugene Kim, LLC’s board chair, suggested that he was confident that this creative group of leadership development practitioners could develop some practices for supporting a mindset shift if we were to take 20 minutes to focus on one of these mindsets, he suggested ‘generosity”.   One of the things we had learned earlier from our design thinking orientation during the first day of the event is that you have to be willing to learn by trying some things out without over imagining you can think and talk your way into the perfect solution.  We quickly moved to our groups to see what we could come up with and we were all pleasantly surprised by the fun ideas that were generated in a short period of time.  In fact, we implemented two of the ideas with the participants at Creating Space. Here are some of the ideas that we surface:
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Reflections on Creating Space 2014

It has been over a week since Creating Space; my nerves are still sitting on the top of my skin, anxious for everything that is to come.  The momentum that carried me to this point came from the three days we spent together in Oakland, a group of 65 of us from throughout the country.  In those three days, design thinking was demystified, I saw an incredible network map of our community, and participated in a racial equity simulation (“Save our Ship”) that I can’t stop thinking about.  I met people from Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Minnesota, Boston, and Colorado.  We shared our stories about the challenges our communities face and the economic divides that continue to grow and perpetuate challenges.  Despite the heavy conversation, I was more relaxed in those three days than I have been in three months and came back to work feeling inspired.  This says a lot about Creating Space.


Let me start by naming my own experience.  This was my first Creating Space, and as the newest member of the LLC team, I was advised to just live the experience, to be open-minded and to take it all in without trying to analyze or categorize this event as any other “conference,” because indeed this was far from a conference.  This was a place to learn, to have deep dialogue and make connections that fuel for the leadership fire.  Here are a few things I heard during CSXI that have managed to move beyond the event and into my day-to-day:

  • Consciously standing in the unknown
  • Understanding your superpower and your kryptonite
  • Exercising generosity muscles
  • Acknowledging the assist
  • To care about people, invite them into the spirit of humanity and generosity
  • “Inclusion” and “diversity” are code words for people of color
  • Be respectfully disruptive

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