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. We need to lead differently to address the long-standing and growing inequities in our communities and larger society.
Leaders have to 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 the inherent assets of communities, doing work to communities instead of with communities. Leadership begins within, 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, and collaborative 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.
I have always worn a lot of hats – CEO, social entrepreneur, author, teacher, advocate, activist, mentee, mentor, Dad, partner. 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 an Innovation Fellow at The Beeck Center for Social Innovation and Impact at Georgetown University; a faculty member of The Asset-Based Community Development Institute; and a board member of Independent Sector, Playworks, The United Way of Greater Milwaukee, The Corps Network, and the NYU Leadership Initiative.
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 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 partner 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.