In my experience, achieving social change is not a linear process but a complex one. It is neither top-down nor bottom-up, but takes diverse networks where all kinds of leaders step up and take responsibility for their contributions to common goals. Most of my work today supports collective impact efforts with an emphasis on those rigorous about building equitable and accountable strategies and cultures.
For these efforts to work, leaders should start within and be clear about our purpose, motivations, interests, values, gifts, and even the things we suck at. We also have to be clear about those same things within our organizations. And many social change efforts fail to recognize or engage the inherent assets of communities, doing work to communities instead of with communities. Leadership begins within ourselves and the communities we serve, and such awareness is the jumping off point for achieving real change.
The mission of Leading Inside Out, LLC is to advance strategies that develop authentic, inclusive, collaborative, and accountable leadership; engage community members as partners in solving community problems; and help diverse leaders and groups achieve greater impact together. From keynotes and workshops to coaching and consulting, my goal is to help leaders gain the insights, strategies, and tools to get better results.
About Paul Schmitz
I have always worn a lot of hats – CEO, social entrepreneur, author, teacher, advocate, activist, mentee, mentor, Dad, husband. I’m passionate about the work I do and love building relationships and learning from all kinds of people.
Currently, my two main hats are as CEO of Leading Inside Out and as Senior Advisor to The Collective Impact Forum, an initiative of FSG and The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions.
I am also an author of many essays and a book, Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up (Jossey Bass, 2011). The book is based on lessons learned from 21 years leading Public Allies, an innovative leadership development AmeriCorps program that helped more than 5,000 diverse young leaders across the country turn their passions to make a difference into careers working for community and social change. It is an amazing organization, and I encourage you to support them!
Among my other current hats are roles as a faculty member of The Asset-Based Community Development Institute; and a board member of The Corps Network, Playworks, The United Way of Greater Milwaukee, the NYU Leadership Initiative, and The Pillars Fund. I previously served on the board of Independent Sector (the national network of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders that advocate for and advance the work of nonprofits), as co-chair of Voices for National Service (the coalition that advocates for AmeriCorps and other national service programs), and chair of the Nonprofit Workforce Coalition (a coalition that worked to strengthen and diversify talent pipelines into the nonprofit sector).
It was a thrill to co-chair the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign’s Civic Engagement Policy Group, serve on the The Obama-Biden Transition Team, advise the White House Office of Social Innovation, and be appointed by President Obama to The White House Council for Community Solutions. I’m still pinching myself and proud of what we accomplished.
I’m grateful to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for taking me in (I was a non-traditional student), graduating me with honors, and recognizing me with their Graduate of the Last Decade Alumni Award. I’m also grateful for other honors I’ve received for my work, including being the first Innovator in Residence at Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Innovation, a Next Generation Leadership Fellowship from The Rockefeller Foundation, a Social Capitalist Award from Fast Company Magazine, and being listed three separate years as one of the 50 most influential nonprofit leaders in America by The Nonprofit Times.
I am most grateful to have a loving, supportive, and fun family with my children Maxwell, Maya, and Olivia, and my wife Jennifer and her children Eli and Nora. When I’m not working, I’m usually playing with my kids, reading, playing guitar, listening to music, watching movies, cooking, visiting coffee shops, and occasionally doing a magic trick or two.