Research Center for Leadership in Action at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

This teaching resource is made available on the Electronic Hallway thanks to a partnership with the Research Center for Leadership in Action at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and funding from the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Research and Documentation Component.

About the Research Center for Leadership in Action

As the leadership research and development hub for the field of public service, the Research Center for Leadership in Action fosters leadership that transforms society.
Founded in 2003 at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, a top-ranked school for public service, the Center’s unique approach integrates research with practice, bridges individual pursuits and collective endeavors, and connects local efforts with global trends. RCLA scholars use innovative social science methodologies to address ambitious questions that advance big ideas in leadership. Public service leaders rely on RCLA to create customized leadership development and capacity-building programs that facilitate critical reflection, peer-to-peer learning and transformation at the individual, organizational and
systems levels. RCLA collaborates with the spectrum of public service organizations, from government agencies to nonprofits and community-based groups across the country and around the world. Partners include more than 700 social change organizations, universities and leadership centers in the United States and abroad, local and state government leaders, and major foundations and corporations including the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, AVINA Foundation, and Accenture. Learn more at http://www.wagner.nyu.edu/leadership.

About the Leadership for a Changing World Program

Leadership for a Changing World (LCW) is a signature program of the Ford Foundation designed to recognize, strengthen and support social change leaders and to highlight the importance of community leadership in improving people’s lives.

The LCW Research and Documentation Component is housed at the Research Center for Leadership in Action at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. LCW uses three parallel lines of inquiry ethnography, cooperative inquiry and narrative inquiry – to explore questions related to the work of leadership. RCLA is committed to developing participatory approaches to research and uses dialogue with LCW participants as a core of the research process. While the award portion of the program has concluded, RCLA continues to partner with nonprofit organizations to develop together new understandings of how social change leadership
emerges and is sustained.

Learn more about Leadership for a Changing World at http://www.leadershipforchange.org, and learn more about the RCLA Social Change Leadership Network at http://wagner.nyu.edu/leadership/our_work/social_change_network.php.

Julie Stewart and her colleagues mobilize the angry and grief stricken families of people incarcerated under mandatory drug sentencing laws. Under these laws, even first-time, non-violent offenders receive extensive prison sentences. The organization brings diverse interests together to change both federal policy and state statutes. Stewart and her colleagues use the following strategies:

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South Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) annually engages 5,000 low and moderate-income residents in the economic development of their gentrifying neighborhoods. FAC is a community development corporation that goes beyond traditional housing development. Its programs are national models for partnering with community residents to create affordable housing and living-wage employment, form community benefit agreements with developers, and enable individuals returning from prison to rejoin society.

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Formed in 1995, the Laotian Organizing Project builds trust and leadership among Laotian refugees in Richmond, California. Richmond is home to a growing number of Laotian refugees from tribal groups that do not have a history of interacting and for whom getting involved is both new and scary. But, faced with over 350 industrial facilities and issues such as a lack of affordable housing or living-wage jobs, community members are speaking out and challenging traditional tribal conflicts and beliefs.

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For over a decade, Gustavo Torres and CASA of Maryland have been working with day laborers, tenants and domestic workers to fight and advocate for themselves. The organization responds to the growing phenomenon of immigrants working as temporary laborers, ripe for exploitation. Going beyond services, CASA also develops workers as leaders in their communities and engages them in broader policy issues. Their approach includes the following:

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Barbara Miller and a coalition of local activists address the environmental and health consequence of 100 years of mining in Idaho's Silver Valley. They are up against the physical damage wrought by lead poisoning as well as community members' deep reluctance to speak out against the mining companies that had such a hold on the community. Undaunted, Miller and her colleagues pursue the following goals:

Oaxacans represent a range of indigenous groups from southeastern Mexico. The groups speak 16 different languages. Their cultures and customs are neither American nor Spanish. Prone to "double racism" they experience widespread discrimination. Founded in 1991, the Oaxacan Indigenous Binational Front educates Oaxacan migrants about their rights and helps win improvements including better wages and working conditions. With many Oaxacans going back and forth between jobs, homes and families in both the U.S. and Mexico, the coalition has offices and members in two countries.

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AIDS Housing of Washington develops innovative housing facilities to meet the continually changing needs of people with HIV/AIDS. The organization also offers technical assistance to other communities nationwide and participates in a national coalition, which plays a pivotal role in federal AIDS housing policy. In creating housing for people with HIV/AIDS, Betsy Lieberman, executive director of AIDS Housing of Washington, cites the importance of the following:

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The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is a national model for integrating housing and homeless support services while engaging in advocacy to influence public policy. With a combination of clarity, tenacity and adaptability, the Coalition pursues its mission to prevent homelessness and create lasting solutions. Long-time president, John Parvensky, and his colleagues use the following approaches:

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