Leaderful ecosystems create a powerful people path forward for advancing justice.
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Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems

Photo Credit: Quamé HamlinPhoto Credit: Quamé Hamlin

Leadership is not a codified set of structures, practices, people, or a fixed state.

Leadership is the capacity to create something of meaning and align values and actions across groups of people or communities. It is about relationships among people and how they support, complement, and supplement each other and the broader ecosystem. Transformative change requires a larger bench of leaders who engage in and expand leadership, and who can flex easily across a spectrum of leadership approaches that make sense in different contexts for different purposes.

Vincent Pan of
Chinese for Affirmative Action, and a former Network Leadership Innovation Lab participant, has said, “In order for movements to succeed, we have to de-center, grow, and redistribute leadership. We need to see our organizations and ourselves in a different way.” Several years ago, in an effort to support leaderful ecosystems, Chinese for Affirmative Action made  a core commitment to leverage assets to create space and a home base for progressive Asian Americans in the Bay Area. This commitment evolved into the Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality network, which allows for more equitable resource sharing amongst its members—groups organizing on a range of social justice issues—and the exchange of ideas in service of shared values. For more on this story, please refer to our article, Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems, in the Nonprofit Quarterly. 

Photo credit: Alison LinPhoto credit: Alison LinTo grow leadership from this interconnected place, we believe that we must support leadership that: engages the broader system and networks of leaders within it; builds relationships to embody equity; uses flexible approaches—sometimes more directive and other times more collaborative; values the wisdom of, and contribution from, multiple voices and perspectives; and creates the space for the inner work needed for lasting transformation.

Leaderful Ecosystems in Action

John W. Mack Fellows of the Weingart Foundation

The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Program is designed to support next-generation movement leaders to advance social justice and racial equity work that will result in a more just and equitable Southern California. Supported by the Weingart Foundation with Change Elemental consultants and others, the program cultivates adaptive leadership, cohort-based learning, and support for staff well-being, based on a dynamic and systems perspective of leadership.

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The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Program The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program aims to strengthen and develop the pipeline of next-generation movement leaders to lead social justice and racial equity work that results in a more just and equitable Southern California region. The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program is designed to help emerging leaders: Transform their leadership skills to more effectively respond and adapt to ever-changing conditions; Better articulate their personal leadership stance; Build upon their existing networks through a dynamic shared peer cohort experience; Deepen the alignment between their personal and shared values and their movement work; Learn from current movement leaders about how to build and manage great teams; Identify how they can better connect with more seasoned movement leaders as well as support the development of the next generation of leaders; and Access other leadership development and support resources for themselves and their organizations. roque armenta Organizing Director Power California Janel Bailey Co-Executive Director of Organizing and Programs Los Angeles Black Worker Center Carlos Cervantes Ride Home Program Life Coach Anti-Recidivism Coalition Sophya Chum Associate Director Khmer Girls in Action Carla DePaz Director of Community Organizing East LA Community Corporation Lesli LeGras Morris Director Los Angeles Reproductive Health Equity Project, National Center for Youth Law Anthony Ng Policy Manager, Immigrant Rights Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Los Angeles Cheyenne Reynoso Director of Ocean Protector’s Program Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples Flor Rodriguez Associate Director Miguel Contreras Foundation Jesus Sanchez Founder and Executive Director Gente Organizada David Turner III Coalition Manager Brother Sons Selves Coalition Tracy Zhao Executive Director API Equality—LA John W. MackJohn W. Mack served as a Commissioner on the City of

Co-creators Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems

We partner with so many incredible people supporting leaders and cultivating leaderful ecosystems. Here we name just a few that inspire us to learn and deepen our practices.

Rooted in Vibrant Communities

Rooted in Vibrant Communities (RVC) promotes social justice by cultivating leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.

Move to End Violence

Move to End Violence supports leaders in the U.S. movement to end violence against girls and women to step back from their daily work to envision the change they want to see, imagine new strategies, and build the capacity needed to realize this change.