Leading Change Network News Summer 2015


Dear Friend,

Four years ago, I worked in the dusty basement of a West Philadelphia church with a small group of activists that had just won a decade-long campaign. President Obama had finally signed our bill into law, ushering in the largest expansion of community radio stations in United States history. Now, my job over the next two years was to organize progressive groups in cities of all sizes nationwide to apply for these licenses - before time ran out - and to plant the seeds for a new generation of movement infrastructure. These new radio stations could amplify stories of struggle, broadcast them to millions of people, and provide space to organize diverse constituencies. I wanted to be a great organizer, and to make a difference - but I did not know how to do so.

I felt totally overwhelmed. Who should I spend my time talking to? How could I build relationships with many people over long distances? What kind of structure could motivate leaders to participate in this campaign and to take responsibility for the outcomes? How could we develop a winning strategy? How could I face my fears?

At precisely the right time, something caught my eye on Facebook. It was not a cute cat video. A civil rights leader who I deeply respect started a thread on Facebook inquiring about who in her networks could introduce her to the organizing and narrative pedagogy of Marshall Ganz. Intrigued, I researched Ganz, bought his book, and shortly afterwards took his online course, “Leadership, Organizing, and Action.” It was a revelation: I felt like for the first time in my years of organizing, there was a methodical framework for leadership development, strategizing, and organizing. I learned a way to win.

This year, I had the privilege of being a teaching fellow in that same course, deepening my learning on leadership, while supporting students around the globe to build relationships together and to learn the craft of organizing.

I joined the Leading Change Network (LCN) to connect with a global community of organizers, leaders, researchers, and teachers who are committed to changing the world and ourselves. We come from different countries and cultures. We have varying levels of experience. We have different skills and personalities to offer. We are learning across contexts that our challenges are similar, and that harvesting our interdependence strengthens our capacity to solve problems. This organization builds the future by learning, teaching, and modeling leadership development.

In this newsletter you will read updates on LCN projects, and hear the voices of network members from India, Jordan, Serbia, Kenya, Canada, and the United States sharing their experiences and lessons. Please remember to fill out our brief survey on three upcoming opportunities. I hope you enjoy our stories and choose to get involved!

Jeff Rousset, LCN Newsletter Co-Coordinator

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Reflection on LCN’s 2014 Global Gathering

IMG_9858by Ana Babovic, Coordinator of LCN's 2014 Global Gathering

In 2009, it was a life-changing experience to meet Professor Marshall Ganz and the people in the Leading Change Network (LCN). I was amazed to see the changes that organizers were making in the world. At that time, I was working in the Serbian government and I remember clearly the feeling of hopefulness that told me that I could contribute more to the change in my society through organizing. I decided to quit my job in government to start community organizing full time.

When I was offered the opportunity to lead the 2014 LCN Global Gathering, I didn’t question for a moment whether or not I should take on the responsibility. I knew that if it was well done, this experience could also be life-changing for many other people. I imagined a virtual meeting of approximately 100 organizers, learners, and researchers from all over the world with the aim of getting to know each other personally, sharing and listening to descriptions of each other’s campaigns, and discussing the challenges they face in their work.

Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who imagined it this way and who was convinced of the importance and impact of LCN and the Global Gathering.

The vision and mission of the conference were devised in consultation with the members of the LCN Board, and we also heard from many people within the network. It would have been impossible to implement any of these ideas without the wisdom and knowledge of Sung E Bai, the digital skills of Ruby Sinreich and Ashraf Hamzah, the strong and weak ties of Kanoko Kamata, the knowledge and organizing skills of Art Reyes III and Tessa Frost, or the analytical and writing skills of Elizabeth McKenna and Xiaodi Chen. This leadership team managed to make the vision of the conference real and tangible.

In less than three months, with more than 30 people organized as a team, the Global Gathering campaign reached its main peak. The event was held on November 15th and brought together 89 people from 23 countries and 11 different sectors.

One participant reflected on the event that, “I'm just in awe of so many people dedicated to deep thinking, meaningful action, and social change - ­ hope is here, in action and shining bright as we learn to be ever more effective.” I have the feeling that only people open to learning, coaching and reflection on their practices can change their countries and the world for better.

Read more on the 2014 Global Gathering by downloading the full report: Global Gathering 2014 Report

Global Affiliates: GA Love

by Nisreen Haj Ahmad, Coordinator of LCN’s Global Affiliates

In the first in-person gathering of Global Affiliates, nine organizations from six countries came together in March 2015 at a beautiful, modest hotel in the mountains of Serbia to learn together and from each other. Community organizers, coaches, and trainers shared their experiences in campaigning and building leadership in India, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Palestine, Syria, Serbia, and the United States. The three-day gathering was collaboratively funded by Open Society Foundations (OSF), Leading Change Network, and the participants themselves. I had the pleasure of coordinating it.

Our schedule covered three main areas: our organizations, our training and coaching, and organizing campaigns. After the organizations shared their stories, we mapped out the challenges we face in sustaining our organizations. Some challenges were very similar, especially growing communities’ leadership in running and winning campaigns to bring the change they need for their rights and for justice. For example, listening to how Serbia on the Move faces the challenge of scaling up its organization was useful to all of us since that may be a challenge that each of us could face in the future.


We also shared how we all apply and develop the community organizing framework developed by Marshall Ganz and colleagues, including our training modules, workshop designs and coaching processes. For example, Tatua Kenya changed the stories session, and United We Dream USA added management modules to the existing organizing modules. Through these examples, we learned how resourceful, creative and generous we are as a group.

On the last day, we discussed challenges and best practices in organizing and coaching campaigns for social and political change. We focused on different angles – understanding impact, managing urgency, scaling up movements, building coalitions, and, as always, motivation and commitment. Learning about challenges and opportunities in other people’s experiences broadened our horizons and shifted our perspectives in our own organizing contexts.

We committed to documenting the discussions and lessons learned. We published an Executive Summary of the gathering and started publishing what we call the “Serbia Notes.” The first note, Understanding Impact, is based on a conversation with Marshall Ganz, who attended the gathering. The second of the four notes, to be published in the coming weeks, focuses on the topic of urgency.

The collaboration and sharing will continue beyond this gathering. We kick-started the Global Affiliates Resource Center, where all member organizations will share their training materials, case studies and reflections. With seed money provided by OSF, we continue to look for funds to sustain the Resource Center and to make the 2016 in-person gathering happen.

In the end, we all came out with stronger ties to sustain ourselves and a promise to reach out for help and provide it. We call it “GA Love”: it’s the same love we have for Marshall Ganz, who taught and mentored most of us there.

Teaching Organizing on Campus

shana-cropped-100x100by Shana Berger, Coordinator of LCN’s Teaching Initiative

The Teaching Initiative (TI) supports college and university educators in developing courses in the practice of leadership, organizing, and action by creating opportunities for training, peer coaching, ongoing learning, mentoring and sharing resources.

Educators’ Community of Practice
In order to create a forum for deep learning on teaching leadership practice for faculty already involved in teaching the “Organizing: People, Power, Change” course, LCN launched an Educators’ Community of Practice (COP) in July 2014. Over the past year, 18 educators from 11 different colleges and universities (including, among others, Harvard University, Wellesley College, the University of Michigan, Providence College, Bunker Hill Community College and Syracuse University) met monthly to discuss shared learning on teaching the craft of organizing. Each meeting focused on a theme, such as approaches to student projects; characteristics of strong/weak organizing projects; coaching and emotional learning; case studies; coaching faculty through teaching and learning challenges; setting students up to succeed at the start and end of the course; teaching with case examples and case studies, and discussing new readings. As Ian Robinson explains, “…all of us are ‘in the trenches,’ teaching variants of this course, and this is a great forum for sharing the practical challenges we face and for brainstorming on how to respond to them.”

Here is a summary of a meeting that provides a flavor of the discussion:
Our May 2015 COP meeting focused on sharing new favorite readings. In advance of the meeting, faculty read two pieces shared by COP faculty participants: an excerpt from Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell) and Diversity is Inefficient. The first article led to a discussion about shallow organizing in contrast to deep organizing (or organizing vs. mobilizing), and how those unfamiliar with true relational organizing might call it inefficient. This was a great segue to the Diversity is Inefficient article which focused on the necessity of inclusion: like relationship-building, inclusion can be seen as "inefficient." We discussed how to actualize the theory of “inclusion = diversity + empowerment” in teaching and in student projects through norm-setting and coaching.

Faculty Recruitment & Enrollment in Marshall Ganz’s Online Leadership, Organizing and Action (LOA) Spring 2015 Course
To support faculty in launching similar courses at their colleges/universities, the TI, in partnership with Campus Compact, organized a webinar that introduced 30 faculty to the pedagogy and gave them the opportunity to take the LOA course. As a result of this and other outreach, seven faculty members enrolled in the online course. At the conclusion of the LOA course, these students from among faculty—as well as 15 other students interested in thinking about teaching the pedagogy--participated in a special session to share their key learnings and challenges about the craft of organizing and launching courses.

Some key learnings were:

  • *The way the class focused on creating a culture of practice (Kerry Foxx, Syracuse University),
  • *The importance of commitment from leadership team members — how to get it, ensure it and keep it consistent over time (Ellen Feig, Bergen Community College), and
  • *How narrative can work to engage constituents in the work of the campaign (Jim Walters, Montgomery College).

When reflecting on challenges in launching courses, almost all the faculty mentioned problems with the drawn-out process of getting a new course approved through curriculum committees. A solution suggested by Tiffany Steinwert, who has successfully launched a course at Syracuse University, is to approach it as an organizing project. Of course! One faculty member has already launched a workshop on her campus.

A Learning Venue for Trainers

Uyen Doan_headshotby Uyen Doan, Coordinator of LCN’s Trainers’ Community of Practice

Back in the winter of 2014, a group of Leading Change Network (LCN) members realized that LCN possessed an untapped well of knowledge and experience within our ranks: people who train community organizers using the five-practices framework of story, relationships, structure, strategy and action. Uyen Doan and Sung E Bai initiated the project, recruiting 11 other trainers—Art Reyes, Kanoko Kamata, Dan Grandone, Peter Gibbs, Mais Irqsusi, Kwesi Chappin, Natalie Finstad, Jake Waxman, Abel Cano, Jesse Wilderman and Marshall Ganz—who collectively have done trainings in different countries such as Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, South Africa, and the U.S. We launched the Trainers Community of Practice (COP) with the aim of learning from each other’s training experiences, sharing resources and capturing our collective knowledge to share back with the larger network.

The group structured itself around six topics, each with its own team of co-facilitators who led the discussions, and we began meeting once a month beginning in January 2015. The topics cover a range of common challenges and best practices, from developing leadership within members of our training teams, to improving the way we teach strategy and tactics, to creating conditions that enable success and maximize learning when working with existing organizations.

The discussions have not only uncovered key insights into how to build upon and improve the way we train using the five-practices framework, they have also inspired a spin-off project. The session addressing “Emotional Barriers in Training” was particularly enlightening. The trainers engaged in a rich debate about the types of emotions that are necessary and productive for learning and those that impede learning. As it turned out, creating a certain level of tension, when balanced with trust and support, can be an effective tool for trainers. As one member of the group said, the role of the trainer is to “intentionally create tension that challenges participants to see something they didn’t see before and to get them out of their protective shells.” The conversation was so generative and thought-provoking that three members of the group, Abel Cano, Natalie Finstad, and Sung E Bai, piloted a peer coaching group for trainers to dig deeper into their own emotional barriers and identify strategies for managing those barriers (read about the project below).

The COP will be wrapping up in the summer of 2015. Members of the group will decide at that point how to continue building upon the rich learning that came out of the sessions and how to expand in order to reach more people within the network. Stay tuned!

Peer Coaching: Learning by Doing

natalie finstadby Natalie Elaine Finstad, Co-Coordinator of Peer Coaching Pilot Project

In one of the sessions of the Trainers Community of Practice on coaching people through emotional challenges, a critical question emerged: while we can certainly help someone design strategy or action plans, can we help them move through fear, apprehension or avoidance?

On the call, Marshall Ganz shared that guiding people through an emotional challenge requires an empathetic bridge, that is, the ability to meet people in a place of challenge while simultaneously urging them to cross over to a new way of being. As a group, we recognized that the ability to be/create an empathetic bridge would not be developed through studying – we had to “get on the bike.” Inspired by that session, Abel Cano, Sung E Bai, and I initiated a coaching group for the purpose of creating a community within LCN in which people could address their own emotional challenges, especially as these challenges arise when coaching.

Our peer coaching group is formed of people specifically interested in addressing their own emotional challenges, refining their coaching skills, and as a result becoming better equipped to lead. To achieve these goals, we designed the group in a way that included peer coaching as an opportunity for individual growth as well as group discussion to reflect on what we are learning about ourselves and the practice of coaching.

We are halfway through our first round of the coaching group. In true LCN fashion, I’d like to share a plus, a delta, and a learning with the wider community.

  • *Plus: The group discussions have provided a place to learn new skills. On the last call we were talking about the dearth of emotional coaching skills we have and Sung E introduced a technique that asks the coachee how their head, heart, and gut feel about a certain issue – enabling us as the coach to navigate a holistic coaching path.
  • *Delta: While there is overt interest in this group, we have not had 100% participation in the individual and group calls from a few members. This has caused me to wonder whether worthwhile coaching requires a distinct need/desire. We know coaching is a way to grow, but perhaps it’s not possible to commit to coaching purely for the sake of coaching.
  • *Learning: As we expected, many of us are wired to go to strategy/informational coaching. We are learning, through our individual experience and group discussion, that successful coaching requires attention to the heart as well as to the mind. If we are to be successful coaches, we have to develop the practices and skills that will equip us to recognize our default patterns and to alter the course when needed.


Project Connect: Building Relationships Across Borders

by Ashraf Hamzah, Coordinator of Project Connect

We are trainers, teachers, researchers, coaches, and activists in the field. During our 2013 and 2014 Global Gatherings, participants were able to connect one-on-one with other leaders around the world in online breakout rooms, and expressed an interest in having more similar opportunities.

Relationship-building is a core practice of organizing. I believe that doing a one-on-one is one of the most effective methods for sharing experiences in a purposeful and intentional way to create and deepen learning: the 1st circle of success. Through relationship-building among members, LCN’s constituency becomes stronger, more engaged and active: the 2nd circle of success.

We (Ashraf Hamzah, Jeff Rousset, Masa Misic, Milica Markovic, Rawan Zeine, Sung E Bai, and Uyen Doan) decided to create an online space where people in the network can meet with one another and start building relationships. We decided to approach this as a ‘beta test,’ an experiment of design and technology. We invited a small sampling of the network (124 people who have attended LCN events in the past), and received a response from 31 of them. Twenty people confirmed participation, and eight people attended who are based in Japan, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.S. (California, Hawai’i, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin). As one participant shared: “This was a fabulous experience. I met someone who faces similar challenges and learned a lot from hearing about her path to organizing. We made a commitment to meet again!”

I believe as a beta this was a successful opportunity to learn and further develop a model for people in the network to connect with each other through one-on-ones. We will be working on the technology and design challenges and hope to see more of you attend the next one!

Community Organizing Framework and New Tactics Puzzle

Ahel NT1by Mais Irqsusi, Co-Director of Ahel

In December 2014, Ahel (an LCN Global Affiliate) collaborated with New Tactics to deliver a training in which we merged the value-based community organizing methodology developed by Marshall Ganz and colleagues with New Tactics’ methodology for running campaigns.

To design the five-day training, we planned a two-day trainers preparation workshop in which both teams of trainers shared the various components of our respective workshops, did a “dry-run,” and tried to piece them together for one complementary workshop. During the preparation workshop, we identified the similarities in our practices and the gaps we each had and determined how they could be filled by the other’s methodology. You can see the sequence of modules at the bottom of the article here.

For example, New Tactics adopted a paradigm of the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu as a guideline: know yourself, know your opponent and know the terrain. The Marshall Ganz community organizing framework introduces public narrative, which supports Sun Tzu’s “know yourself” in developing the story of self,  “know your community” in developing the story of us and “the terrain” in developing the story of now.

While the community organizing framework developed good tools to articulate a theory of change and to draw a campaign chart, New Tactics developed solid strategy tools to help in knowing the terrain.

The tactical map in particular is a very useful tool both for “power with” and for “power over” campaigns. It creates more clarity in the map of actors, which makes developing a theory of change much stronger. On its own, this tool may not be enough for a power analysis and may need to be complemented with change theories.

The spectrum of allies is an effective exercise to do before developing tactics since some tactics need to be developed to shift or move people and organizations on the support spectrum. This tool is especially valuable in identifying “active allies” on the spectrum and then developing tactics to keep them involved. One drawback when comparing this exercise to our community organizing actors map is the absence of any reference to values. From a shared values perspective, the actors maps have competitors, and we should develop ways to deal with them. Through the values lens, competitors are not opponents with opposing values and should not be treated as such. These are good distinctions that we as organizers have to grapple with.

Last but not least, it is also important to see the points of intersection in the two methodologies: both include development of a vision and articulation of a problem, but these are achieved in different ways.

In general, it was a worthwhile experiment on campaign strategy and we are looking forward to adopting and adapting these practices.

You can read more insight on this experience from Nancy Pearson of New Tactics here.

Reflections on the Public Narrative Workshop Project with the American Federation of Teachers

Jacob Waxman by Jacob Waxman, Organizing Trainer and Coach

Going to public school is a big reason I’m the organizer that I am today. In my classrooms at Maui High School, the best way to earn respect wasn’t to stand out by raising my hand all the time, but rather to do my work and then offer help to others. To earn trust as a “haole” (Hawaiian term for “Caucasian”), I kept my head down until I had strong enough relationships to shake hands with the tougher students in the hallways between classes. Two teachers, Mr. Imada and Mrs. Richardson, provided key lessons both in and outside the classroom as I learned how to navigate my community. So when Evan Sutton, from the communications team of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), called to talk about introducing Public Narrative (PN) to AFT, I went into it with more than passing interest.

Faced with the challenge of introducing PN to an organization over a century old with plenty of its own wisdom, we asked, “Who are the people who can lead this?” and “Will there be interest in this approach?” With Evan, Cheryl Teare, and Carol Kurtz from AFT, we built a training team of AFT staff and members to lead a pilot in Toledo, Ohio as part of a regional training. A Leading Change Network (LCN) team made up of Dan Grandone, Christina Sanchez, Kwesi Chappin, Abel Cano, Michele Rudy, and I led these 26 people through an initial one-day PN workshop on April 30, 2015. We prepped them as coaches and on May 2nd, they helped train 59 members in a full-day workshop. It became clear throughout the day when members got up to tell stories they had never told before in the union that PN connects members to the union (and to each other) in new ways and we should do more of it at AFT. Three weeks later, Leilah Mooney-Joseph of AFT coordinated members of that same AFT training team along with four LCN coaches (Anjali Rodrigues, Sarah ElRaheb, Mick Power, and Nataly Castaño) and three trainers (myself, Dan, and Christina) to lead 60 AFT staffers in a full-day workshop. The ownership and work by the AFT training team turned the pilot into potential for some deep change work.

The sailing was not always smooth (the waters of change rarely are!) and I learned some key lessons, a few of which I’ll share here (for more, email me!):

  • ->The need for change has to come from within. Having a champion inside the organization was critical. Evan and the AFT team did dozens of hours of prep work to build a strong foundational team that set AFT up to own the work going forward.
  • ->A healthy insider/outsider dynamic was helpful. Setting up a partnership with a mix of insider skill and outsider perspective helped propel positive adaptations in a long-standing, large organization.
  • ->Creating and managing tension was necessary. These workshops raised tensions between how things have been done versus how they might be done on an individual and organizational level. Holding that tension, rather than fleeing or freezing, has been key to moving forward in a positive direction.
  • ->Look for the spark in the eye. Some people will find this work useful and some won’t. The key for going further is searching for and intentionally building relationships with people with a spark and capacity to do more and following through with them.


Haiyya’s Campaign Academy

by Aprajita Pandey, Executive Director of Haiyya

Campaign Academy India is the combined effort of a group of campaigners who saw the need to build a more effective campaigning sector and to develop more interactive and learning spaces for campaigners in India. Haiyya, one of the Global Affiliates of the Leading Change Network, was one of four campaign-based organizations in India that created Campaign Academy. The first Campaign Academy training course was held from April 26th to May 1st, 2015, in Bangalore with 32 participants.

Campaign Academy_1

The syllabus was designed to help build campaigners’ skills, networks, and confidence through a one-year training program. Over the year, this program will inspire, motivate and support them to win social campaigns. Haiyya is leading the syllabus design and framework with the aim of highlighting the urgency of integrated campaigning in India--campaigning that brings together strategy and theory, grassroots tools, online tools, media and communications, and design skills.

One of the participants shared, "Campaign Academy is a place where you learn how to campaign best and to build a community in which everyone has complementary skills. It should be a yearly event." The Campaign Academy India founders are now focusing on mentoring the campaigners and exploring ways to secure funding to hold another Campaign Academy next year.

Tatua Kenya Fellowship Program

by Kenneth Chomba, Executive Director of Tatua Kenya

The Tatua Kenya Fellowship is a six-month program that trains local leaders to build and maintain Community Run Initiatives that address poverty through the skills of community organizing.

Tatua’s vision encourages local leadership development and demands direct community participation in sustaining community development. Tatua has developed a six-month fellowship that teaches how leadership, as practiced through community organizing, can revolutionize the way we approach development work. The fellowship is ideal for persons running existing initiatives in Kenya who understand the vital need for the community to become engaged in their programs. In 2015, Tatua has accepted 15 fellows who will be working with us on a range of issues: health, education, safety in neighborhoods, childhood poverty, and environmental preservation. Our aim is to build leaders who, in turn, build a united community working together to make a lasting and sustainable difference. Fellows develop a base of community members committed to addressing a specific challenge related to their target issue. Through building relationships and taking action together, they begin to earn the trust and commitment of their community. In the end, the community itself has claimed direct ownership of the problem and has launched a Community Run Initiative that addresses their own chosen issue.


I support the fellowship as a coach for two of the fellows’ developing campaigns. Sheila Kerubo, one of the incredible fellows I am supporting, is a gifted young adult with a deep love for street children who are fleeing from their homes to seek refuge in the city streets. Sheila believes there is power in a united community to foster better care for children seeking refuge in the streets and to create safer neighborhoods. This is a response to the increasing number of street children on city streets putting out their hand to every individual passing by for even an eighth of a dollar. I have seen Sheila in the last two months moving to implement the full concept of shared leadership – building on the capacity of the older street children to enable them to lead this movement that will unite the community in Nairobi and to be in solidarity for change. Sheila is currently leading a listening project campaign with a team of 8 street boys and girls. They will conduct over 200 interviews across the city, seeking to learn how fellow constituents and the general community of Nairobi understand the problem of the increasing numbers of street children so they can better address the issue.

For information on Sheila’s continued progress with her work, and to support the 15 Fellows, look here

Organize BC’s Peer Coaching and Mentor Programs

Organize BCby Peter Gibbs, Lead Organizer of Organize BC

Organize BC exists to enable progressive groups to make change in British Columbia, Canada. We do this mostly through collaborative trainings: member organizations pool trainers to run collective workshops to train their organizers in communities around the province.

In March 2015, two years into the project, seven of our core trainers are sitting in a glass-walled meeting room, flip charts covering the walls, holding a daylong debrief on our work and how to make it more effective. Jolan brings up an important point: we’ve learned how to effectively train new people, but aren’t supporting them properly once they leave the workshop. Too many organizers lack ongoing support and coaching.

We brainstorm about what we can do with our resources, and decide to pilot two programs: a peer coaching program and a mentorship program. I start by putting a call-out to our network of experienced organizers to join Organize BC’s Peer Coaching Network. Ten organizers from across Canada, from our largest city of Toronto to tiny Krestova, BC, join the pilot and start meeting once a month. Over the spring, Eoin, Anna, Montana, and Mary all mention to me in passing how much they love having a coaching buddy. They tell me, "it has been so helpful to chat with an organizer from another campaign,” and that “it's great to know that I'm not alone in some of the challenges I'm facing.”

The feedback on our pilot was so positive that we decided to run a second round of the program and opened it to a wider pool of organizers. Most of the original 10 are keeping their coaching buddies, and we already have four more people signed up for round one.

The success of this pilot program reinforces to me the value of coaching and solidarity for organizers. It also reminds me that the leadership practices we use on a daily basis are so universal that organizers from different campaigns, regions and contexts can find much value and support from talking on the phone for an hour each month.

At the same time, I started reaching out to organizers in the Leading Change Network to join Organize BC’s Mentors' Circle. Our community of engagement organizers is young: our most experienced folks have been practicing relational organizing for about 2 years. We saw that our most experienced people needed mentorship that our community couldn’t provide. I contacted the organizers and trainers from LCN’s Trainers Community of Practice group and asked each of them to mentor an organizer in the Organize BC community. In the last half of June, I paired Natalie Finstad, Dan Grandone, Mais Irqsusi, and Jake Waxman with organizers who need coaching and mentorship from beyond our network.

In starting the Mentor’s Circle, I was blown away by the enthusiastic support of the potential mentors. Several people emailed back right away saying “I’m in” and those who didn’t have time apologized and told me to ask them again if there’s a round two. For our young community of organizers, this type of support is invaluable, and in the years to come I know we’ll be paying it forward.

Serbia on the Move: The Beginning of a New Era

 11136690_10152767005142647_2915383600343856892_nby Vladica Jovanovic, Community Organizer, Serbia on the Move

Although Serbia on the Move (SOM) started with the motto “We are building movers, not movements,” it has turned into a movement. Over the first six years, the organization went through three different phases. In the first phase, the organization’s focus was not on the organization itself but on the campaigns – the goal was to engage the community and solve problems in order to be able to organize bigger groups of people. The campaigns had their successes, but it became a challenge to sustain the organization and resources in between campaigns. To overcome this challenge, we worked hard on stabilizing the life of the organization. We focused on and finished building teams and on defining purposes for individual teams and accountability for volunteer members. Now, we are entering the third phase in which a re-strategizing process has given SOM  a clear idea of the mountain we are climbing and the tools we need to use to get to the top.

In March 2015, Harvard professor Marshall Ganz attended our annual Assembly and gave a lecture on “People, Power and Change.”  This was an opportunity not only to hear a great lecture on community organizing and the five leadership practices, but also to present the new era of SOM’s work in organizing communities to a full house of members and guests.

The new SOM era is to be marked by creating a social movement that could in time build enough power to take on even bigger battles and win them. This will be done through establishing Serbia on the Move clubs all over Serbia.

Clubs are organized communities of 20-25 individuals who meet weekly and organize local actions, workshops and hang outs for their members and local communities. The idea is to have 1,000 clubs in five years, which would mean there would be 1,000 organized communities trained and ready to take on national campaigns dealing with systemic problems in our society. SOM voting members have officially adopted this path and its accompanying 13 points of ”The Serbia We Want to Live In,“ and we have started on the path to making it happen. In the past three months, we have discussed this plan with fellow organizers, trainers, and coaches from all over the world who were brought together in LCN’s Global Affiliates project. We have created a sustainable training, coaching and mentoring system for the clubs, and have launched five pilot clubs.

The first impressions from our club leaders inspire us to continue:

  • “I am creating a wave with the potential to grow. I am living this unique experience of seeing a new idea born and developed before my eyes.” – Ana
  • “In Serbia on the Move, I found values which enable me to express myself and people who support me in gathering people in clubs which will then inspire others to act. Through our actions, we will go beyond our limits and with our work we will show that anything can be done if one is really motivated.” – Olga

If you are intrigued and want to know more about the clubs, or you have ideas and want to share them with us, we will be happy to learn with and from you.

Katallasso: Organizing Churches to Build the Beloved Community

IMG_7463by Natalie Elaine Finstad, Co-founder of Katallasso

The church was a place where I was nurtured, accepted and challenged to grow. As a child, I treasured the stable rhythm of communion. As a teenager drowning in high school cliques, the church offered a place where I could be my awkward adolescent self. Most recently, as a young adult, I participated in Life Together and learned how, through community organizing, the church could transform our world into a place where all are loved and valued. I have come to understand this as the primary vocation of the church: to build communities in which all are treated as the Beloved.

I am currently working with Katallasso, a group of leaders in the U.S. (California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas) and in Canada (Toronto) committed to expanding this idea of the church’s vocation. The Leading Change Network (LCN) has supported our work by providing space to convene our meetings online. Through these meetings, our team defined how we understand Beloved Community, developed strategy on how we can begin this movement, and identified the leaders and the locations where we will begin our work. More importantly, our work is steeped in LCN’s ideology of bringing about change through the leadership of many.

This year, Katallasso will be supporting nine leaders to build Beloved Community in their own context as well as gathering them via online meetings to develop a strategy that expands and promotes this powerful way of being a church. It is our hope that by organizing and strengthening the efforts of leaders who are building Beloved Community, we can develop a church that promotes justice and restores dignity to all.


Spring 2015 Leadership, Organizing, and Action Course

Marshall Ganz, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Rawan Zeine, Head Teaching Fellow


As part of the LOA course, each section completes a celebration video. Here is one created by Emmy Suzuki-Harris, Ahmadou Balde, Bill Price, and Maxim Abo Diab, called "Organize for Love," a celebration of how to successfully apply organizing principles to that which makes the world go around. Tessa Frost was their Teaching Fellow.

Gratitude to LCN Donors

Leading Change Network extends its appreciation to all who have donated generously over this past year:

Special Appreciation

The LCN Newsletter Team (Ashraf Hamzah, Milica Markovic, Masa Misic, Jeff Rousset, and Sung E Bai) would like to thank all the writers, and Laurie Au, Ivana Markovic, Karen Olson, Beth Patel, and Rawan Zeine for their help with this newsletter. We also want to express our appreciation for all the people on the ground doing the hard work every day to build the campaigns and projects described in this newsletter.

One thought on “Leading Change Network News Summer 2015

  1. Jant Cooper Nelson says:

    Thank you–for sharing a broad set of projects where your support has made a critical difference. jcn

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