Brooke took a class that changed her life.
It was a management communication class where the professor incorporated experiential learning through community consulting projects. Having a voice, completing a school project that had the potential for real impact (Brooke wrote a grant for Big Brothers, Big Sisters), made a difference in how she related to her work, herself, and her community. Brooke’s grant wasn’t awarded–welcome to the real world, but her eyes were opened.
Fast-forward a few years, Brooke has graduated and stayed in Tucson working at a community hospital. Her experience completing a community project had pulled her off campus and into the community where she developed relationships that helped her put down roots. Most of her classmates left town (Tucson has real brain drain). But like many Millennials, Brooke wanted more. She took every leadership opportunity that came her way, considered getting her MBA, searched out of state for new positions, but nothing looked that exciting. She wanted something different. She needed hands-on leadership and learning all at the same time.
Yes, Brooke is a little dreamy, but that’s vision–the ability to imagine more and DO more.
So, long story short, in 2013, Brooke convinced her former professor (Robin) to leave her position at UA and start a business–the opportunity Brooke imagined. Ouila, LeadLocal! LeadLocal’s first few years were dedicated to Leading for Good, a semester-long leadership program for college-age students. Leading for Good brought on apprentices to learn innovation and leadership strategies while completing a project for a local business. The twist…the program added a mentorship component that provided participants with a project mentor who was a young professional in the community. In exchange for mentoring a team of college-age students, the young professional participated in LeadLocal’s Leadership C-Suite. Leading for Good allowed Brooke and Robin to meet amazing young people and help community organizations and small businesses. The program opened doors to work with teachers and schools in the K-12 system, libraries, and other cultural institutions–and it was here that we recognized a larger need.
While technology continues to drive market shifts and we move deeper into a network economy, “business as usual” just doesn’t exist anymore. Long standing industrial models and institutional practices are becoming out-dated and institutional trust is eroding (think big banks, Volkswagen, Wikileaks). Institutions find themselves managing with fewer and fewer resources, struggling to adapt. In communities, where public institutions (schools, libraries, and museums) are the only real access to knowledge and education, these institutional challenges impact everyone–especially the most vulnerable. So, we asked ourselves:
How can we help people in organizations lead change from where they are?
How can we support smart growth within institutions so all people in our community get the good stuff?
Our answer: pivot our practice and share what we’ve learned about leading and learning through change. Change itself isn’t a bad thing, but it can be scary. And fear can lead to inaction or wrong action. We humans are creatures of habit. If things aren’t working, we double-down on the same behaviors and thought patterns that got us into trouble in the first place. When it comes to change and growth, everyone needs a little help.
So, in July 2016 we accepted our last cohort of Leading for Good apprentices. Since then we have been focused more broad scale change, working with schools, libraries, museums and other orgs in the learning ecosystem. We are sharing all of the practices we’ve used here at LeadLocal and in Robin’s 25+ years of teaching. We offer our tricks and tools for growth (authentic learning, innovation, and leadership) through workshops, trainings and retreats that help reveal the intrapreneurial potential of individuals and organizations that seek to adapt with the times.
It took us almost four years, but LeadLocal found its calling. We are a think, learn, and DO tank that provides workshops and professional learning opportunities to make a positive impact. With a mission focused on relevant, authentic learning and leadership development, we work with educators, libraries, and cultural institutions to expand possibilities.
Our hands-on, innovative approach emerged from our work designing successful programs and regenerative solutions for our partners and clients. Our methods draw inspiration and tools from design thinking, lean startup, and participatory research and design. Both locally and nationally, we’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of organizations such as Starbucks, Maine State Library, Sunnyside Unified School District, Tucson Unified School District, Nogales Community Development, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima County JTED, IBM, and Macerich Properties, among others. Our favorite (and most successful) projects are those we co-create with our clients and their stakeholders, because tapping into local interests and funds of knowledge uncovers situated and relevant solutions that can take root and grow.
While life pre-LeadLocal is sometimes hard to remember, the truth is we both accrued extensive consulting and organizational development experience before jumping into this adventure. That experience (Brooke’s years in development and experience design plus Robin’s years of consulting, coaching, and teaching—from Pre-K to Executive MBA) creates our foundation of knowledge and expertise that we are excited to share to help catalyze growth for individuals, teams and organizations that make the world a better place.