Street Lights

The Power of Relationship

It is Leadership Foundations’ (LF) firm conviction that relationships are what will grow leaders and heal the world. Over our 50 year history we have stressed the importance of relationships in all that we do, whether building houses, providing affordable medical care or building ministry collaborations. As a result, the LF Central Office makes it a priority to create and capitalize on relationships that can assist our network in making their cities better. A great example of this is the partnership that we have formed on behalf of LF’s Global Youth Initiative with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (BHOF) and Communities in Schools (CIS).


The LF Global Youth Initiative, created out of our recognition that we can do more together than apart in serving youth, changes lives through local leaders who mentor and equip young people to become the next generation of leaders in their cities. Last year, the LF Central Office partnered with CIS and BHOF to expand and support this initiative. Through this partnership, we are committed to building meaningful, intentional and effective relationships between young people and adult mentors for a very simple, but significant reason: our cities will get better.


Last weekend, we saw the power of this kind of relationship first hand at the inaugural BHOF Charity Golf Classic in Naples, Florida. This fundraising event was a unique expression of our commitment to transformative relationships, providing us a platform to connect people across generations and increase capacity in our programs. Along with the golf tournament and live auction that benefited the LF Global Youth Initiative, basketball clinics were held at the local high school and community center for youth involved in the One by One Leadership Foundation in Immokalee, Florida.


“What an outstanding opportunity for the young people of Immokalee,” said Ken Fairbanks, Immokalee High School Principal. “This is a unique opportunity for us as we try to build our students character and become better servants to our community.”


This event is just one example of how the power of relationships, a core value of LF, can positively impact youth. Through the LF Global Youth Initiative and the work of the LF network these transformative relationships are building the next generation of leaders for cities around the world.


The Important Question

So, what can a nearly 1500 year old Catholic monastic community teach Leadership Foundations (LF)? LF is 50-years old, multi-denominational, and organized to engage the postmodern urban realities of the 21st century. The monks of Mount Angel Abbey are a Benedictine community founded in 1882, maintain a monastic tradition that has been a vital part of the Roman Catholic Church for almost 1500 years, and dedicate themselves to a life of prayer and work. Although this ancient community may seem worlds apart from LF, it has had much to offer us over the years and, in particular, this past month.


In early January, the LF Central Office staff visited Mount Angel Abbey in Saint Benedict, Oregon for our annual planning retreat. Surrounded by black-robed monks, ivy covered buildings, and an eight-bell tower, we went to work planning our year amidst these trappings that find their place of origin over a millennium ago. Over the course of four days we created our annual work plan, measuring each decision as to whether it helps further the LF Central Office’s mission to develop, strengthen, and sustain the more than 70 local leadership foundations throughout the world.


Our time together was meant to form this strategy. However, something deeper moved among us: the awareness of all we could learn from this venerable community. What the monks of Mount Angel Abbey have lived out for 133 years is the answer to Robert Greenleaf’s famous question regarding leadership, and a question we often ask of ourselves: Are you a leader who serves or a servant who leads? The monks understand the importance of this question and willingly live into its simplicity and its challenges with grace. For four days they demonstrated this grace and taught us that for a community to prosper we need to be servants who lead rather than leaders who serve.


Join us every month as we seek to live out these deep truths of an ancient but still relevant community in cities around the world.


Training Whole Leaders

Leaders are the foundations of great cities. At Leadership Foundations we help develop better leaders. Whole leaders. Leaders who know their cities and know how to make those cities whole as a result. One of the key ways we develop leaders is through our yearly Leadership Foundations Training Institute (LFTI). As has been the case with past gatherings, a theme emerged for our Institute –Whole Leaders. Whole Cities. Better World.


For three days, 63 LF leaders from 39 cities around the world gathered to learn from each other and to engage in a series of intensive trainings focused around our theme and designed to equip them to do their work more effectively. With topics ranging from Building A Local Leadership Foundation, which took our newest network members through the LF framework and theory of change, to Leadership and Management: Thriving Organizations, which examined why building healthy organizational cultures is a critical success factor for flourishing cities, the workshops focused on expanding our collective knowledge to bring out the best in our local leadership foundations (LLFs). Speakers also focused on the importance of self-care through workshops like Urban Spirituality and Soul Care which took an in-depth look at the importance of attentiveness to your own spirit as you seek out the Spirit in difficult places.


Through the LFTI we provide a common platform for women and men to come together, connect, develop their leadership skills, and learn best practices and strategies for creating effective, whole organizations can take on the challenges in their cities. These trainings are one of the key ways that LF develops whole leaders and equips them for intentional, faith-driven work around the globe.


Better Together: A New Initiative

Leadership Foundations (LF) works with leaders and organizations around the world focused on making cities better. We believe that unless we look at the City as a whole – its systems, structures, multi-sector realities, assets and flaws – we will miss achieving collective impact that is possible and instead end up working within our silos with limited results. The Urban Training Collaborative (UTC) was born out of this idea and with the recognition that we have a global network of experienced urban ministry practitioners with a willingness to share what they know. As a result, LF has partnered with Street Psalms and a number of our local leadership foundations to launch training hubs located in Africa, Asia, Central America, the Caribbean and the United States.


The UTC offers unique training opportunities that equip the “head, heart and hands” of these gifted leaders. This fall, leaders from all over the globe gathered in the name of social and spiritual renewal for our second and third UTC trainings, in Guatemala City, Guatemala and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The training in Guatemala was hosted in September by CMT Guatemala (CMT) and the gathering in Minneapolis was hosted earlier this month by Urban Ventures.


From September 15-19, 70 attendees (from major cities in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and the United States) came together to explore the processes, programs and infrastructure required to accomplish city-wide urban engagement. As well as diving into these topics, attendees explored Guatemala City and the specific work of CMT through guided tours, guest speakers and intensive conversation about peace making. Their time focused on reclaiming life in places victimized by war and poverty, specifically through visits to the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala and other sites around the city, but also by applying this theme to their respective cities.


Tita Evertz, a local of Guatemala City, shared her heart through her story of serving in La Limonada, the largest slum community in Central America where 60,000 plus live in a valley that once had a river running through the bottom. That river is now raw sewage and Tita has been serving this community with reckless abandon for the past 15 years of her life. She led a discussion of the practical elements and the great cost of tangibly sharing your heart and living out your theology.  – Joel Van Dyke, Director de Redes de Transformación, Guatemala City.



From October 31-November 2, 75 urban ministry practitioners gathered in Minneapolis for ongoing training in areas specifically tailored to developing their own leadership and organizations. Workshops were built around two texts: Geography of Grace by Kris Rocke and Joel Van Dyke, and Cities: Playgrounds or Battlegrounds? by LF President, David Hillis.


LF, Street Psalms and our training hubs around the world are excited to build on the momentum of these events and to continue to develop capacity and curriculum to advance our mission through the global network. We are so grateful for this group of people coming together for our cities!


Untold Stories

This past week we have had the chance to read about and reflect on the life and legacy of Maya Angelou. Among the many gifts she gave the world was a lesson on the importance of voice and story. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings she wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou reminded us of the many untold stories waiting to be told in cities throughout the world. This month we are excited to share two previously untold Leadership Foundations stories with you.


LF Book

Our newly published book, Cities: Playgrounds or Battlegrounds? tells the LF story- that “untold story” Angelou is referring to. This story is the story of many; women and men all over the world working for the social and spiritual renewal of their cities; leaders who serve and give voice to the untold stories within their communities. It is the story of beginning to see your city as a playground rather than a battleground.

LF President Dave Hillis traces the 50 year journey of these individuals and LF’s values, ethos, and theory of change, and argues that the city must be seen as a playground if effective work and change is to take place for the good of the whole and for the long haul.


Get your copy today at Seattle Book Company or Amazon.


LF Podcast

LF has also created a podcast called “Leadership Foundations: City As Playground” to tell our story. Each month you can join hosts Rick Enloe and Dave Hillis as they explore the significance of seeing the city as a playground. They will be joined by urban practitioners from all over the world who are using these strategies in their cities.


You can subscribe now via iTunes or our podcast website.


Sailing into 2014: Capitalizing on Given Opportunities

We wanted to take this issue of Street Lights and surface a metaphor that recently appeared in the New Yorker magazine. It captures Leadership Foundations hopes as it embarks upon a new year.


The article, titled “Two Ships” and written by Adam Gopnik, reflects on the comparison and contrast between two boats that set sail in 1914: the Titanic and the Olympic. The first is indelibly etched in our collective memory with the chronicling of its doomed adventure through books and movies (and of course it does not hurt that the film starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), while the latter carries little recollection because it made it to its New York destination safe and sound. Interestingly, both were made at the same time, by the same people, to do the same job, in the same way, but remembered very differently.


Gopnik uses the “two ships” as a metaphor where he asks the question in light of opportunities before us: Why is it that our imaginations of disaster are dangerously more fertile (Titanic) than our imaginations of the ordinary (Olympic)? He goes on to state the following: “Two boats set sail in those prewar years a century ago: the boat that sailed on and the boat that sank. Olympic or Titanic? Which is ours?”


Because of the extraordinary work of 2013 where LLFs were developed, strengthened, and sustained, strategies ranging from cause-marketing to public sector were set in place, the budget we set out to raise was achieved, projects we put our hands to were accomplished- LF sees itself as “Olympic-like” in 2014. LF is that ship where navigation comes as a result of our deep sense of God’s faithful, grace flowing presence where all is possible as we sail forth to achieve our mission. As such, the theme for LF as it sails into 2014 is “Capitalizing on Given Opportunities.


The following is a brief snapshot of some of these opportunities that you will hear about over the next few months as we seek to develop, strengthen, and sustain local leadership foundations for the social and spiritual renewal of cities around the world:

  • LF Book: We are in the final stages of finishing a book on the history of LF called, “Cities: Playgrounds or Battlegrounds—Leadership Foundations’ Fifty-Year Journey of Social and Spiritual Renewal”. We look forward to sharing more with you about this exciting moment in LF’s development.
  • LF Podcast: Using the theme of city as playground, LF is developing a monthly podcast that will reflect on the some of the big ideas associated with seeing the city as a playground and then highlight how this is being operationalized by LLFs and our partners throughout the world. We will keep you posted as to how you can access this new development.
  • LF Website: In April you can expect to see a newly designed LF Website that will be more accessible for all connected to the LF organization. Stay tuned.
  • Basketball Hall of Fame-Communities in Schools-LF Cause Marketing Partnership: LF has entered into a partnership with the Basketball Hall of Fame and Communities in Schools around mentoring young people. There was a soft launch of the partnership today at NBA All-Star weekend.  We are on the frontend of this exciting development where the talents and capacities of each organization will be used to help young people succeed in life. We anticipate the formal announcement of this partnership in April at the NCAA Final Four weekend. We will be keeping you abreast of all development as we move forward.

As always, thank you for your care, concern, and commitment to LF. You are part of the reason that we are able to sail into 2014 with a deep sense that our future is one of the “Olympic” rather than the “Titantic.”

Basketball Hall of Fame Announces Partnership with Communities in Schools and Leadership Foundations

NEW ORLEANS, LA and SPRINGFIELD, MA.- The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today during NBA All-Star weekend a partnership with two national organizations, Communities in Schools and Leadership Foundations.  The goal of the cause marketing effort is to inspire youth in need towards success through interaction with Hall of Famers and fundraising efforts.


“This new partnership will bring a world of positivity to underprivileged children and we are thrilled to be a part of something truly special,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame.  “The fact that the game of basketball and our Hall of Famers have the power to inspire children to achieve success in life is remarkable and it is an honor for us to work towards making this difference.”


Communities in Schools was founded in the 1970’s by Bill Milliken, one of the nation’s biggest advocates for leading young people towards graduation and its board is chaired by Elaine Wynn, also the Chairman and Director of Wynn Resorts.  The organization is a nationwide network of professionals working towards the enrichment of children.


Leadership Foundations, founded by Reid Carpenter more than 50 years ago, is a global network of nearly 50 cities that consists of individuals and organizations working to transform their cities through effective and collaborative leadership.  Scott Lewis COO of Leadership Foundations and father of Ryan Lewis, famed producer, DJ and musical partner with rapper Macklemore were both present at the announcement.


“Partnering with the Basketball Hall of Fame will not only increase awareness of continued challenges kids face today but will expand the important role of mentors in the lives of thousands of children and strengthen our effort to build community leaders for the future.,” said Scott Lewis.  “We are excited to work with CIS and the Hall to see what kind of differences we can make in the lives of our youth.”


About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was invented, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate and high school, for both men and women on the global stage.


Transforming Lives: 2013 Leadership Foundations Mentoring Initiative

This past year, over 3,500 youth across the country were given a life-changing opportunity. As a part of the Leadership Foundations Mentoring Initiative, organizations across the U.S. matched these kids with caring and consistent adult mentors. An increasing amount of research shows that a high quality mentor can increase school attendance, lower dropout rates, decrease involvement with drugs and violent behavior, and empower youth to see themselves as leaders.


Mentoring is an important aspect of the work in nearly all of our local leadership foundations and strategic partners. Knowing this, the LF Central Office went to work coordinating a network of 45 organizations and partners across the United States and secured a one year $3 million grant from the Department of Justice to grow and enhance the effectiveness of these mentoring programs. The result is the Leadership Foundations Mentoring Initiative (LFMI).


As participants reflected on the last year, many shared what being a part of LFMI has meant for the kids being served, their organizations, and their cities:


Urban Ventures shared the story of Sean an 8th grader, who is a part of their mentoring program–the Hub. Similar to many of the youth in the program, Sean has had many experiences that created obstacles to healthy relationships, healthy living, education and a successful future life. At home, adults move in and out of his life, there is no quiet space to do homework, and often not enough food for dinner. He has also seen his brother make mistakes and be taken to juvenile detention, and consequently Sean is determined to stay out of trouble and jail.  Sean’s touchstone to success personally, educationally and economically is his mentor and the programs at the Hub. This summer, under a canopy of more stars than he ever saw or knew existed away from city lights, Sean had time and quiet to reflect and talk with his mentor about his dreams and hopes for his future. They talked late into the night, one to another, hoping and planning together how Sean will make his dreams of the future a reality. The LFMI grant was leveraged in significant life changing ways with thousands of other kids like Sean who now have a caring adult mentor investing in their future.


Goodcity and Power of Purpose, stated that LFMI has opened up a wide range of new opportunities in Chicago. The initiative facilitated first-time collaborations between community-based groups and helped ensure best practices were being used in their mentoring programs. Javin Foreman, Director of Power of Purpose, reported that the LFMI funding and support “allowed us to work smarter, reach more young people, and ensure that our mentors were prepared to give their best efforts.”


Patricia Talton, President of the Northwest Leadership Foundation and the National Director of LFMI, reflected, “The Leadership Foundations Mentoring Initiative serves as a powerful demonstration of how strategic partnerships can leverage more than any one organization or group.  In 2012, the Leadership Foundations along with New Vision Renewable Energy and COPAHNI embarked on a journey that allowed us to change the lives of over 3,500 young people.  But we are even more proud of the fact that more communities in the U.S. now have critical supports (i.e., caring adults) for young people that add to the social infrastructure.”


To learn more about our strategic partners visit their website: Lion of Judah and New Vision.


Whole Leaders: Honoring Juliao Mutemba

LF believes that to transform cities and create a better world, we must focus on leadership and developing whole leaders. As such, whole leaders is the Raison d’être for LF’s existence. One of the key characteristics of a whole leader is seeing a “third way.” Whole leaders recognize that the world is not dichotomous, so they work toward a better world by bringing together seemingly opposing sectors or groups in a community and then coalescing and mobilizing them around a common vision, mission, and set of values in their respective cities. From work in Delhi to Dallas, Pretoria to Portland, and Memphis to Maputo, LF has had the great fortune of having these kinds of leaders in abundance. Nowhere was this better personified than in Juliao Mutemba, who recently passed away.


Stephan de Beer, a friend and colleague of Juliao, as well as a Leadership Foundations’ Senior Associate provided the following tribute and reflection on Juliao’s life and the legacy he created in Maputo:


Juliao was an extraordinary humble servant of the Lord, but equally courageous in all of his endeavors. He was a warm and gentle priest caring for his community of Bagamoyo in Maputo. Additionally, he was the founder and leader of Leadership Foundation of Mozambique (LFM), a networker of the body of Christ beyond all boundaries, an ecumenical leader who served in the Council of Churches of Mozambique, and he played a central role in the organization of the All-African Council of Churches gathering in Maputo in 2008.


A sensitive and wise theologian with a breadth and depth of insight that was completely disarming, he struggled for justice and Jesus in the midst of harsh urban spaces. Among these harsh spaces was the city of Maputo’s garbage dump. Intimately acquainted with this place and the community who made it a their home, Juliao was writing a research paper for his Master’s Degree in Missiology entitled Hidden Treasures: a Theology of Garbage, such was Juliao himself – a hidden treasure; a strong and significant leader in the continent of Africa; a passionate and persevering servant of the city. And yet, his deep and humble servant hood was matched only by a theological understanding that encompassed a concern for the poor, a commitment to environmental justice, dedication to gender equality, and a desire to see the urban church empowered. As humble as he was, just as passionate, courageous, persevering and determined was he, not to be swayed from the path that God had led him on. Even if a particular vision took years to complete, Juliao would walk step by step towards that vision.


As a whole leader who developed a third way as he cared for his whole city, Juliao made the world a better place. LF is ever so fortunate to have women and men like him around the world.