Generating ideas, connections, and action

Boston Area

We are a community of practitioners, funders, scholars, and consultants in the Greater Boston area (including Rhode Island) who are committed to supporting and developing leadership in our communities.

We held our launch gathering in March 2002 with over 30 people. More recent gatherings have included discussions of youth leadership development, multicultural evaluation, social network analysis and other themes. The circle is convened by Claire Reinelt, Steward of Emergent Wisdom for the Leadership Learning Community. A documentation of our meetings is available in PDF format here.

We are a self-organizing community. Anyone who wants to engage others in mutual learning and exchange around a leadership development topic is encouraged to contact Claire Reinelt.

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 »

Boston Learning Circle: Energy Action Network (Vermont)

Date: 
12/13/2013 - 10:30am America/Los_Angeles
 read more »

Guest Blog Post: Enough Boring Meetings – A “Taster” to Explore the Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter

By Beth Tener, New Directions Collaborative
Originally Posted on the New Directions Collaborative Blog

  read more »

“I hate boring meetings!” was the way Madeline Snow from UMass Lowell explained her passion for the Art of Hosting and its techniques for convening conversations that matter. She facilitated the September meeting of the Leadership Learning Community’s Boston Learning Circle where participants had the opportunity to experience a “taster” trying out several techniques including Revealed Presence cards, World Café process, Open Space technology, and the Proaction Café. The Art of Hosting is a worldwide community of people who develop, practice and share techniques for hosting group conversations in more powerful ways. The work is based on some underlying principles:
  • The wisdom is in the room – There is a power and potential that can emerge from a group that creates something better than we could create on our own, for example, sitting at our desk trying to write up a strategic plan. The art is in how to access that.
     
  • With the right convening methods, groups can self-organize to create valuable conversations and new insights about the things that matter to them at that time.
     
  • Presence – The key is to have participants present and participating with their full attention (not bored, distracted on smart phones, or sitting quietly while a few voices dominate.)
     
  • It’s ok to “not know” the answers or how everything is going to work out in a meeting. Feeling comfortable with not knowing while trusting the group opens up conversation and the exploration of ideas and possibilities.

 

Topic: 

Boston Learning Circle: An Art of Hosting Taster read more »

  
Date:Thursday, September 19, 2013 | 9:00am - 12:00pm EST 
  
Location:The Nonprofit Center
89 South Street Boston, MA 02111
  
Cost:$20.00
*Light breakfast and coffee will be provided.  

Register for the Boston Learning Circle!

To celebrate the publication of Leadership & Networks: New Ways of Developing Leadership in a Highly Connected World, we are convening Boston area funders, practitioners and evaluators to explore what it means to lead with a network mindset.

 

Date: April 5, 2013 from 9:00am - 12:30pm

Location:  The Boston Foundation

75 Arlington St., Boston, MA 02116  

Details: Coffee, water, bagels & fruit will be served

Registration Fee: $15 to offset the cost of refreshments read more »

 

Boston LLC Convening on Leadership and Collective Impact

Boston LLC Convening:
Leadership and Collective Impact:
Building Social Capital, Expanding Civic Engagement, Empowering Communities
December 7, 2012

 

Who Was Engaged

● Neighborhood Funders
● Network weavers
● Community capacity-builders
● Organizational development consultants,
● Network and systems mapping consultants
● Developmental evaluators
● Creative outside the box experimenters
● Leadership development practitioners

 read more »

Register for the Leadership Learning Community Bay Area and Boston Meetings on Leadership and Collective Impact

To celebrate the publication of the how-to series on leadership and collective impact (bit.ly/LeadershipGuides2012), we are convening Bay Area and Boston funders, practitioners and evaluators to focus learning on how to invest in, design, implement and assess leadership development processes that build relationships, catalyze networks, and benefit communities.

 

Registration Links Below read more »

What attracts and sustains your participation in leadership networks?

This is one of the questions the Boston Learning Circle will be exploring in an upcoming Conversation on Leadership and Networks.  I started to reflect about my own participation in leadership networks, about what attracted my participation and why I remain committed. In 2000, when I joined Deborah to establish learning circles among practitioners of leadership development, I invited evaluation practitioners to form a network to co-evolve our practice together, and collectively influence the field of philanthrophy.  We formed an unlikely alliance since we often competed with each other for work. These were the days when evaluation contracts were more substantial than they are today!  I was attracted to form an evaluation learning circle by the unparelled opportunity to learn with colleagues I respected.  I knew we all had gifts to share with each other, that would push our collective capacity forward.  We became a community voice in the fields of evaluation, leadership development, and philanthropy.  read more »

A New Culture for the Non Profit Sector: The Culture of Impact Brokers

Janice Epstein

In an online article titled “ Are Nonprofits Terrible Tech Clients?,” Holly Ross responds to the complaint that non profits are hard for technology providers (read: for-profits) to work with because they demand more and want it for less:
"Most funders won't pay admin costs. Donors expect increasingly large percentages of every dollar to go straight to program. We're not supposed to spend money on rent, phones, or, god forbid, computers. We're not supposed to hire the staff that keep our nonprofits humming -- the bookkeepers and admin folks. And we're not supposed to pay very much to anyone. That's the culture we live in. I don't like it. I wish our culture believed that nonprofits should be well-staffed and have adequate infrastructures. But that's not where we're at right now." read more »

The Lab-Social Capital: What’s Leadership Got To Do With It?

Janice Epstein

Over the 100 plus years of its use, the term social capital has acquired different meanings depending on the context of its usage-economics, politics, sociology. At the risk of oversimplifying the concept, I like Wikipedia’s succinct definition of social capital: “the advantages available to a person or group of people through their position in a network of relationships.” Impact Brokers (IB) is very interested in the social capital of both its members and its members’ constituents. read more »

The Lab: The Impact Brokers Virtual Learning Laboratory

Janice Epstein

Welcome to the Impact Brokers virtual learning laboratory where your thoughtful input is seriously welcome! What is Impact Brokers (IB), you ask? In a nutshell, IB is a radically different way of ‘doing’ social change. We are a group of nonprofit organizations, funders, consultants, and community members who have been meeting since January 2008 to solve complex social problems together by identifying common issues, discovering root causes and strengthening our collaborative capacity for change. We meet quarterly for Learning Community Meetings to, among other things, review individual and shared capacity building projects and otherwise strengthen our relationships for the benefit of the whole.

LLC awarded IB’s Boston Member Circle a Community Seed grant to support an online learning lab to explore the themes of social capital and networks within the framework of adaptive and collective leadership. If you are choking on that sentence like I am, here’s a Heimlich: we’re going to deepen our understanding of what we do and how we do it so that we can capitalize on our relationships for the benefit of all involved.

So, to christen this learning laboratory, we want to talk a bit about leadership and, specifically leadership that is not carried out by one person. For in the IB Boston Member Circle, there purposely is no one leader. In A New Look at Leadership in Collaborative Networks: Process Catalysts, Mandell and Keast write that leadership in collaborative networks is “the process of getting all members to interact in new ways that tap into their strengths” and that “leadership…is about focusing on the processes of building a new whole rather than primarily focusing on more efficient ways to deliver services.” read more »

Notes from Boston Circle Meeting on 7/14/08

Leadership Learning Community
in partnership with Connective Associates and The Berkana Institute
Notes prepared by Aerin Dunford read more »

Boston Circle Meeting

Date: 
07/14/2008 - 9:00am - 12:00pm US/Eastern

We invite you to join us for a Boston LLC meeting on:

Leadership Networks and Social Network Analysis
Monday, July 14th
9:00-12:00 pm
The Boston Foundation, 75 Arlington Street, 10th Floor read more »

LLC Event: 
LLC Event

Leadership innovation and the role of evaluation

DSCN1240.JPG

What is the role of evaluation in the process of leadership innovation? This is a question we discussed recently at a Boston Circle gathering. Debbie Frieze shared Berkana’s theory of change that starts with a premise that local leadership is a powerful force for innovation and change. Experimentation with new ideas and processes happens at the local level where leaders are responding to the conditions they face. They actively seek alternatives to “business as usual.” Innovation often inspires resistance because people are not easily able to let go of the old to make room for the new.  read more »

Evaluating the Emergence of Leadership Within Networks and Communities of Practice Microsoft Powerpoint file [download] [more info]

Powerpoint presentation on Berkana Institute's theory of change, the evaluation questions they are asking, and the challenges they have faced. This presentation was given at a Boston LLC gathering on September 21, 2007.

Authors: Debbie Frieze

Subjects: evaluation, boston, networks, communities of practice, Berkana

09/22/2007 - 00:00 - 0 comments - 1 attachment - Posted by Claire Reinelt

Preparation for Boston LLC meeting on 9/21/07

As you prepare to come to the Boston LLC meeting on September 21st to engage in a learning dialogue about "evaluating the emergence of leadership within networks and read more »

Networks and Communities of Practice: What is the difference?

GroupWork2-Community or Network

Networks and communities of practice are often terms that are used interchangeably. Is there a difference? read more »

Boston Learning Circle Notes on Youth Development PDF file [download] [more info]

Notes from the Boston Learning Circle gathering on Youth Development Initiatives.

Authors: Claire Reinelt

Subjects: youth, leadership, development, learning circle, boston

06/18/2007 - 11:07 - 0 comments - 1 attachment - Posted by Elissa Perry

Evaluation Tools for Racial Equity - web site External website [view] [more info]

Created for Community Groups and Individuals: 1) Who want to know more about how to do evaluation. 2) Who are working on changing their communities. 3) Who want to be certain that their evaluations take into account issues of racism, power, privilege, and oppression in: a) Ways they organize and carry out evaluation, b) Kinds of questions they ask and outcomes they measure, c) Thinking about and using results, and d) At every step along the way.

Authors: Sally Leiderman

Subjects: race, evaluation, equity, caas, bridge leadership, boundary-crossing leadership

06/05/2005 - 00:00 - 0 comments - 0 attachments - Posted by Elissa Perry

A Dialogue with Bridge Leaders PDF file [download] [more info]

The LLC convened a gathering of 15 recognized Bridge Leaders in Los Angeles. The LLC was asked to host this discussion by 5 California foundations responding to a request from the community in the aftermath of the LA riots. Participants were asked how to cultivate and support bridge leaders.

Authors: Leadership Learning Community, Deborah Meehan

Subjects: losangeles, leadership, corecompetencies, california, bridge leadership, boundary-crossing leadership

08/05/2001 - 00:00 - 0 comments - 1 attachment - Posted by Elissa Perry

Blog Entries

  • LLC Staff

    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.

    01/08/2014 - 01:00
  • LLC Staff

    By Beth Tener, New Directions Collaborative
    Originally Posted on the New Directions Collaborative Blog

     

    “I hate boring meetings!” was the way Madeline Snow from UMass Lowell explained her passion for the Art of Hosting and its techniques for convening conversations that matter. She facilitated the September meeting of the Leadership Learning Community’s Boston Learning Circle where participants had the opportunity to experience a “taster” trying out several techniques including Revealed Presence cards, World Café process, Open Space technology, and the Proaction Café. The Art of Hosting is a worldwide community of people who develop, practice and share techniques for hosting group conversations in more powerful ways. The work is based on some underlying principles:
    • The wisdom is in the room – There is a power and potential that can emerge from a group that creates something better than we could create on our own, for example, sitting at our desk trying to write up a strategic plan. The art is in how to access that.
       
    • With the right convening methods, groups can self-organize to create valuable conversations and new insights about the things that matter to them at that time.
       
    • Presence – The key is to have participants present and participating with their full attention (not bored, distracted on smart phones, or sitting quietly while a few voices dominate.)
       
    • It’s ok to “not know” the answers or how everything is going to work out in a meeting. Feeling comfortable with not knowing while trusting the group opens up conversation and the exploration of ideas and possibilities.
    09/23/2013 - 13:01
  • LLC Staff

     

    Topic: 

    Boston Learning Circle: An Art of Hosting Taster

      
    Date:Thursday, September 19, 2013 | 9:00am - 12:00pm EST 
      
    Location:The Nonprofit Center
    89 South Street Boston, MA 02111
      
    Cost:$20.00
    *Light breakfast and coffee will be provided.  
    07/30/2013 - 17:57
  • LLC Staff

    To celebrate the publication of Leadership & Networks: New Ways of Developing Leadership in a Highly Connected World, we are convening Boston area funders, practitioners and evaluators to explore what it means to lead with a network mindset.

     

    Date: April 5, 2013 from 9:00am - 12:30pm

    Location:  The Boston Foundation

    75 Arlington St., Boston, MA 02116  

    Details: Coffee, water, bagels & fruit will be served

    Registration Fee: $15 to offset the cost of refreshments

     
    03/25/2013 - 11:32
  • Claire Reinelt

    Boston LLC Convening:
    Leadership and Collective Impact:
    Building Social Capital, Expanding Civic Engagement, Empowering Communities
    December 7, 2012

     

    Who Was Engaged

    ● Neighborhood Funders
    ● Network weavers
    ● Community capacity-builders
    ● Organizational development consultants,
    ● Network and systems mapping consultants
    ● Developmental evaluators
    ● Creative outside the box experimenters
    ● Leadership development practitioners

    12/18/2012 - 11:52
  • LLC Staff

    To celebrate the publication of the how-to series on leadership and collective impact (bit.ly/LeadershipGuides2012), we are convening Bay Area and Boston funders, practitioners and evaluators to focus learning on how to invest in, design, implement and assess leadership development processes that build relationships, catalyze networks, and benefit communities.

     

    Registration Links Below

    11/12/2012 - 13:48
  • Claire Reinelt

    This is one of the questions the Boston Learning Circle will be exploring in an upcoming Conversation on Leadership and Networks.  I started to reflect about my own participation in leadership networks, about what attracted my participation and why I remain committed. In 2000, when I joined Deborah to establish learning circles among practitioners of leadership development, I invited evaluation practitioners to form a network to co-evolve our practice together, and collectively influence the field of philanthrophy.  We formed an unlikely alliance since we often competed with each other for work. These were the days when evaluation contracts were more substantial than they are today!  I was attracted to form an evaluation learning circle by the unparelled opportunity to learn with colleagues I respected.  I knew we all had gifts to share with each other, that would push our collective capacity forward.  We became a community voice in the fields of evaluation, leadership development, and philanthropy. 

    03/16/2010 - 07:02
  • Janice Epstein

    In an online article titled “ Are Nonprofits Terrible Tech Clients?,” Holly Ross responds to the complaint that non profits are hard for technology providers (read: for-profits) to work with because they demand more and want it for less:
    "Most funders won't pay admin costs. Donors expect increasingly large percentages of every dollar to go straight to program. We're not supposed to spend money on rent, phones, or, god forbid, computers. We're not supposed to hire the staff that keep our nonprofits humming -- the bookkeepers and admin folks. And we're not supposed to pay very much to anyone. That's the culture we live in. I don't like it. I wish our culture believed that nonprofits should be well-staffed and have adequate infrastructures. But that's not where we're at right now."

    11/19/2008 - 11:28
  • Janice Epstein

    Over the 100 plus years of its use, the term social capital has acquired different meanings depending on the context of its usage-economics, politics, sociology. At the risk of oversimplifying the concept, I like Wikipedia’s succinct definition of social capital: “the advantages available to a person or group of people through their position in a network of relationships.” Impact Brokers (IB) is very interested in the social capital of both its members and its members’ constituents.

    09/27/2008 - 09:28
  • Janice Epstein

    Welcome to the Impact Brokers virtual learning laboratory where your thoughtful input is seriously welcome! What is Impact Brokers (IB), you ask? In a nutshell, IB is a radically different way of ‘doing’ social change. We are a group of nonprofit organizations, funders, consultants, and community members who have been meeting since January 2008 to solve complex social problems together by identifying common issues, discovering root causes and strengthening our collaborative capacity for change. We meet quarterly for Learning Community Meetings to, among other things, review individual and shared capacity building projects and otherwise strengthen our relationships for the benefit of the whole.

    LLC awarded IB’s Boston Member Circle a Community Seed grant to support an online learning lab to explore the themes of social capital and networks within the framework of adaptive and collective leadership. If you are choking on that sentence like I am, here’s a Heimlich: we’re going to deepen our understanding of what we do and how we do it so that we can capitalize on our relationships for the benefit of all involved.

    So, to christen this learning laboratory, we want to talk a bit about leadership and, specifically leadership that is not carried out by one person. For in the IB Boston Member Circle, there purposely is no one leader. In A New Look at Leadership in Collaborative Networks: Process Catalysts, Mandell and Keast write that leadership in collaborative networks is “the process of getting all members to interact in new ways that tap into their strengths” and that “leadership…is about focusing on the processes of building a new whole rather than primarily focusing on more efficient ways to deliver services.”

    08/31/2008 - 18:28

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