LEAD Program ‘graduates’ complete seven-week leadership skills-training workshop

Lousiana’s

The 16 participants spanned a diverse spectrum of community leadership in terms of age, race, gender, experience and issues they hoped to address by taking the workshop. Each participant seemed to be particularly affected by different classes, speakers, themes and exercises.

Sixteen aspiring community leaders were recognized for completing the seven-week LEAD Program leadership training workshop at a reception Saturday (May 6) at Dryades Public Market. LEAD Program participants enjoyed a keynote address from TOGETHER Initiative architect Christy Wallace-Slater, a panel discussion of community leaders, and a brunch.

FFL New Orleans Program Officer Ameca Reali led the workshop in coordination with facilitator Tanya James of Strategic Outcomes.

“I think what we’re doing with LEAD is really making deep, thoughtful investments in people, and in their capacity to see themselves as leaders and to be advocates and to drive the change that they really want to see in their communities,” Reali said. “… [t]hose closest to the problems and the issues that we’re facing are the most well equipped to solve them, so they should be on the front lines.”

The workshop kicked off March 25 with a presentation from Lolita M. Ross of Shared Strategy Group explaining key concepts of community leadership, including understanding the difference between equity and equality. Timolynn Sams Sumter (executive director of Neighborhoods Partnership Network) discussed neighborhood transformation and Lucas Diaz (a Tulane University doctoral candidate) discussed civic leadership and participation. Other presenters included Andreanecia M. Morris, Executive Director of HousingNOLA; Kelly Harris DeBerry, social media consultant; Avis Brock, community leader and granddaughter of civil rights legend Avery Alexander; and Carolyn Waiters Carter of The Human Element.

[PHOTO GALLERY: Check out more images from the ceremony on our Facebook page!]

Participants also learned about such key leadership concepts as collaboration and problem solving and gained more insight into Foundation for Louisiana’s work from Alfredo A. Cruz, Vice President of Programs & Special Initiatives, and Tanya Gulliver-Garcia, Associate Director of Programs and Planning.

The 16 participants spanned a diverse spectrum of community leadership in terms of age, race, gender, experience and issues they hoped to address by taking the workshop. Each participant seemed to be particularly affected by different classes, speakers, themes and exercises. Jeffery Vannor, Alumni Coordinator with Café Reconcile, noted how he took one exercise in which each participant took one minute to write down on paper their life story as a way to turn around and more concisely “pitch” a potential funder, and immediately applied that same exercise to his colleagues.

Desiree Packard is the Family & Youth Support Program Manager for Metropolitan Human Services District. She thought she had the concept of problem solving down pat — until she went through the LEAD Program and learned a completely new set of problem-solving strategies: “I thought that there was one way to solve a problem. We learned there were multiple ways to metaphorically skin a cat. And so we took a number of different approaches in attacking an issue.”

Participants also appreciated the LEAD Program’s overall broad impact on their potential as leaders in their communities.

“I think the realization that the Foundation for Louisiana really sees me has been phenomenal,” said participant Amanda Emily Smith, Community Coordinator for the LGBT Community Center of New Orleans. You value my voice, you value my opinion, you value my potential and my worth as a human being. That has been fundamental in my development in this program.”

Quiana Brown, Regional Economic & Community Development Officer for the Delta Regional Authority, agreed: “LEAD is … preparing me. It’s kind of like if you’re at a really great high school. College is still scary, but I feel like I’m ready for that next step.”

LEAD participants next will be invited to participate in the Equity Caucus, the second phase of the TOGETHER Initiative in which they join other residents in one room with nonprofit representatives and people from across southern Louisiana to identify the critical needs of the community. The gathering serves as a jumping-off point for a two-month planning period, where participants work to focus on priorities and finalize their action plans to the point where leaders can submit grant proposals to fund a project. Grants will then be awarded to qualified applicants.

2017 LEAD Program participants: Quiana M. Brown, Camara DeVan, Troy Glover, Andrea McNeil, Ashlei Morrison, Mary Okoth, Desiree Packard, Chantelle Pierre, Emily Rhodes, Amanda Emily Smith, La Wanda Smith, Garryelle Smooth, Janet Tobias, Jeffery Vannor, Morris Warner, Julie Whiteman

The TOGETHER Initiative is supported by funding from the City of New Orleans through its Network for Economic Opportunity, the Convergence Partnership, Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Metropolitan Opportunities Initiative, JP Morgan Chase, Surdna Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

NOTE: Keep an eye out for a video about this year’s LEAD Program. In the meantime, enjoy this video from the last cycle!