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Leadership for Social Change: Guest Blog Post from LDIR

Developing Social Change Leaders

Authors: Carmen Morgan and Povi-Tamu Bryant of Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR)

Note: This is a follow up article for the recent webinar Developing Social Change Leaders: 
Practices and Perspectives on Fostering an Intersectional Approach to Identity and Social Justice
, featuring Carmen Morgan and Povi-Tamu Bryant of Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) 


Leadership for Social Change

While many leadership programs seek to build the management and organizational skills of an executive, or to develop the leadership qualities of the individual leaders, the Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) program is rooted in a social justice perspective and feels that effective leaders need the ability to facilitate collaboration among diverse people across lines of race, class, religion, sexual orientation, as well as across sectors and disciplines.


Participants from Central Valley leadership program

We tend to have leaders who may be effective in their own niches, but who don’t have the time, linkages, or sometimes even the vision to connect with leaders or communities outside their own cultural context. Even those who do have the vision often find that good intentions are not enough. They may find themselves face-to-face with their own biases, or with biases within the communities they are trying to link. They may lack the skills to bring people together across apparently competing interests. A new brand of leadership is required, one that prioritizes collaboration, respects the needs of the local community, is culturally inclusive, and is rooted in a social justice framework. This means that we need to continue to create leadership opportunities that prioritize a new set of values – one that prioritizes an understanding and respect for differences across a broad spectrum and works to reveal privilege and power dynamics.

Additionally, our communities continue to be faced with challenges that are rooted in the intersection of gender, race, class, and all their identities. We cannot be effective, proactive, or forward thinking without a leadership model that takes into account our lived experiences.

Based in Los Angeles, LDIR has been providing resources and supporting leaders for over 22 years to work more collaboratively using a social justice lens. What we have learned from our work with communities in LA, Flint, Michigan, Philadelphia, and California’s Central Valley, is that effective community building and leadership development must take into account diverse identities. Time and time again, we have watched as initiatives with promising goals flounder because they did not account for the whole individual.

Our recent webinar with Leadership Learning Community was a wonderful opportunity for the LDIR team to reflect on the values and practices that have informed our programming over the years. We also appreciated hearing from others across the nation about how they are thinking about these same issues. This type of a leadership learning community continues to be valuable and much needed.

View the slides and video from our webinar here.


LDIR’s next public workshops will be held in Fresno, California! Learn more and sign up.

**During the webinar, we were pleased to receive several questions concerning LDIR’s school-based programming. For more information about that area of work, please contact Li’i Furumoto at lfurumoto [at] apalc [dot] org. You can also learn about the school-based work of our community partner, the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center, at their website.

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