Our Story

Leading for Good participants work on their collaboration and co-leadership skills.

In 2012, 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, program participants completed consulting projects for local organizations. The twist…the program included a mentorship component that also connected the apprentices with a local, young-at-heart professionals. In exchange for mentoring a team, professionals received leadership coaching to support their own growth and 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, and community organization. The more we worked with people and organizations from across our community and across the country, the more we began to see the patterns of the fractures in the system. In other words, once we got out of the silos we’d been in, we got some perspective.

At first, it looked to us like the old systems just weren’t holding up in the technology-driven disruption and design of the “network” or “information” economy.  So we started adopting and adapting different tools and innovation processes to help our clients navigate change. We expanded our programming and tested other approaches.

But there was still something missing. Take for example…design thinking. It’s empathy-centered approach resonated with us, but when we used the process in projects within diverse communities, we found ourselves constantly retro-fitting the tools. At first, we thought it was us, but over time it became increasingly clear that the process was rooted in some pretty homogeneous and hierarchical assumptions. . . You might be thinking, Duh. And you’re right.

So, long story short, team members joined and moved on. And then, in 2017 LeadLocal began a collaboration with Cohado.

In the last couple years, LeadLocal has continued working with entrepreneurial ecosystems, schools (PK-20), libraries, and community, but our org structure and practice have evolved. Today, we are a collective of specialists and consultants who facilitate emergent design processes. We are unique in our interdisciplinary approach, our centering of place-based knowledge, and our commitment to providing capacity-building opportunities to young folx in the community. Whenever feasible, we engage intern teams and young professionals, providing over 130 youth and young professionals with internships or first consulting gigs since 2012.

If you’d like to learn more about what LeadLocal does, reach out, we’d love to connect.