In 2013, we started Leading for Good (there were four of us–Elena Ruiz, John Jackson, Brooke McDonald, and Robin Breault). The Leading for Good apprenticeship program gave college-age young people the opportunity to learn, to develop their collaboration skills, and implement innovation, design, and systems thinking strategies. We did this through hands-on experience. Alongside our team, participants completed a consulting project for a local organization. The twist…the program included a mentorship component that also connected the apprentices with a local, young-at-heart professional. In exchange for mentoring a team of college-age students, professionals received coaching to support their own growth and professional development.
Leading for Good allowed us to get to know amazing young people and professionals in our community. The consulting projects we brought in connected us with innovative organizations in different sectors.
And as our inaugural program grew, two of us remained on full time–Brooke and Robin. We had the chance to work closely with entrepreneurs, K-12 educators and school districts, libraries, museums. The more we worked with people and organizations from across our community, the more we began to see the patterns in the challenges everyone in the system faces. In other words, once we got out of the silos we’d been in, we got some perspective.
At first, to us, it looked like the old systems just weren’t holding up in the technology-driven disruption and design of the “network economy.” So we started adopting and adapting different, newer tools, processes and research to help navigate change. We expanded our programming to try other approaches for capacity building in the organizations we were working with.
But there was still something missing. Take this example…design thinking really resonated with us, but when we went to apply the process to a project with a border community, we kept having to retro-fit and redesign activities and processes. Duh–hindsight is 20/20.. Design thinking pretty much assumes you’re starting with a functioning and privileged team from the get go…assumes that your team is “qualified” to design for stakeholders. Homogeneity and hierarchy are baked in.
We spent years adapting and retro-fitting shit, and it still just wasn’t quite right. (Surprise, surprise two white girls upholding the myth?)
So, long story short, emergence starts and stops as team members join and move on. And then, LeadLocal begins a collaboration with Cohado and builds on inspiration and guidance from Fay Horwitt. Alignment emerges from a new narrative, and LeadLocal refines core practice with inspiration and guidance from new collaborators.
In the last year, LeadLocal has continued working with entrepreneurs, schools (PK-20) + libraries, but our org structure and practice have evolved. We still leverage the hands-on, participatory methods that emerged from Robin’s years of teaching and designing alongside students and clients, as well as the insight LeadLocal’s work with young people and partners revealed. So no matter what we are working on, it’s always fun and engaging.
If you’d like to learn more about what LeadLocal does, reach out, we’d love to connect.