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Leading Social Change Today

What does it mean to be a social change leader today?

Last week, The Initiative for Nonprofit Talent and Leadership, a cross sector collaborative – comprised of American Express, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, Center for Creative Leadership, Commongood Careers, Corporation for National and Community Service, Public Allies, Rudin Family Foundations, and Community Wealth Partners, among others – convened a forum with leaders from across the country to tackle this question.

The initiative’s answer: prioritize leadership as one of the most effective means to catalyze transformational results for thriving communities.

In pursuit of its vision to prioritize leadership to transform communities, the initiative proposes the following goals to be achieved in three years:

Rallyally: Individuals across the sector will champion leadership as one of the leading means to significantly increase the sector’s impact in our communities.





Identify: A critical mass of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations will demonstrate a commitment to best practices in leadership development.




Scale: A significantly increased number of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders will engage annually in high-quality leadership development that equips them to deliver significant results.




Engage: Leverage significant new public and private financial investments in nonprofit and philanthropic leadership development.

We know from our transformation research and work with partners that talent and leadership are the essential ingredients needed to spur the kind of bold change needed to truly solve social problems. We are thrilled to be a partner in this conversation!

Across the social sector, leaders within organizations and communitywide efforts are responsible for making social change happen. It is inspiring to see and hear from these talented individuals making a difference in our sector, a sector which has proven itself to be talent-rich, not talent-depleted.  And it is equally inspiring to witness the great momentum behind making talent and leadership a priority as it plays itself out in organizational investments in time, money and resources.  In other words, it’s embedding as a cultural priority.

The Initiative for Nonprofit Talent and Leadership is an exciting opportunity to think differently about how we value our colleagues, and how we as individuals contribute to outcomes that make a real difference. One of the bold goals of the initiative is to demonstrate the link between investments in talent and the social outcomes we all seek. I commend the work of the Initiative for demonstrating the value of collaboration and helping the sector think differently about how to empower and develop bold social change makers. We need more of it!

How can I voice my ideas? Respond to this blog or go to the Independent Sector website and answer these three questions:

  1.  How would you describe high-quality leadership development?
  2. What models, promising practices, or existing programs can we identify and elevate?
  3. What strategies and results-driven indicators would advance our progress toward these goals?

To read more about the Initiative and view the full proposal see: https://www.independentsector.org/leadership_initiative

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Sara Brenner

About Sara Brenner

As President, Sara Brenner leads the firm’s consulting business. Sara helped develop and is implementing the firm’s new strategy to solve social problems at the magnitude they exist, while leading a sales team that grew revenue by more than 45%. Sara oversees the implementation of the new strategy-aligning products, impact measurement, and talent initiatives with a results-based culture to deliver exceptional value to partners. With over 15 years’ experience in consulting for nonprofits, for-profits and the government, Sara worked extensively in the health and human services including at the Advisory Board Company and The Gallup Organization. See Sara’s full bio

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