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, 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. 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 fractures in the greater system. 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” 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), and libraries, but our org structure and practice have evolved. Robin is now our only full-time member. 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 insights that LeadLocal’s work with young people and partners revealed. So no matter what we are working on, it’s always fun and hands-on.
If you’d like to learn more about what LeadLocal does, reach out, we’d love to connect.