Uncategorized Archives - Leadership Foundations

On Immigration, the Pandemic and Where Hope Resides

For many of our local Leadership Foundations, immigration is not simply an abstract issue.  

It is a shared story and first-hand experience etched into the lives and faces of real human beings – women, children, men – those who make the uncertain and often dangerous journey to a new land.  

Cities are Magnets…

They draw diverse peoples in search of safety, opportunity, and more. And yet, with COVID-19, many immigrant and refugee communities have found themselves increasingly isolated, overlooked, and often attacked.

In our most recent City as Playground podcast, Sam Rajshekhar of the YuvaLok Leadership Foundation describes how so many immigrants have experienced deep deprivation during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangalore, India. He depicts a particular group of migrants—the Domari people—who have been marginalized for centuries in India and are now facing unprecedented levels of poverty and privation–creating a kind of hellish purgatory. 

Tragically, this story is not an uncommon one—but what I am struck most by in Sam’s description is how the heartbreak that he describes in gut-wrenching detail seems to clearly be a reflection of God’s own heartbreak. 

We Are All Sojourners

Throughout scripture, God reminds the Israelite people to care for the stranger, the sojourner, in an especially attentive way. Why? Because…

wait for it…

they too were once sojourners.

And Jesus doubles down on this message by becoming an immigrant himself–fleeing to Egypt as a tiny baby. And then he calls his followers to become immigrants as well – to leave everything to follow him.


Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.   

Luke 14: 25-27 (NRSV )

Real Hope – Where God’s Heart Resides

This is the source of our sustaining hope at Leadership Foundations in cities throughout the world – that God who incarnated God’s self in the person of Jesus, who became an immigrant and asks us to do the same, is ever present, ever personal, and always possible for those hardest pressed.    

As a supporter of Leadership Foundations, I invite you to continue to hold immigrant peoples throughout the world in your prayers. And know that your support continues to meet the tangible needs of such people.  

In Bangalore, the YuvaLok Leadership Foundation has created a broad coalition of faith-based and secular organizations to meet immigrant needs. And Leadership Foundations, with our unique charism of finding common ground for the common good, is uniquely positioned to meet such needs.  

Please, join us in this work. 

Child from Lexington

Serving Our City in Crisis

Like so many others, we could have never imagined what the beginning of 2020 would hold for our world and nation. We at Lexington Leadership Foundation (LLF) have been challenged with the question,

“How do we serve our city, while still adhering to the guidelines set in place for our community’s safety?”

What does LLF’s role for the city look like during this time? Our team has been collaborating on the best ways to serve our neighbors. We suspended our regular in-person programming and adjusted our work to address the pressing needs of people in our community and shine Christ’s love and light.
Gathering meals for distribution throughout Lexington
We are working with our partners to serve hundreds of meals to children and families- averaging 136 meals distributed per day, along with a smile and a friendly face. We will continue to do this as long as we are able. Our staff is also checking in on our students, their families, volunteers, and partners to identify their needs and connecting them to resources. A few of our students didn’t have a computer at home, so we helped get them one to ensure the kids could do their schoolwork. One of our bi-lingual team members is taking on the role of Resource Coordinator, working by phone to provide emotional support during an overwhelming time and help families access available resources.
We don’t know how long life will operate like this, but we do know that God is good and in control. In the midst of these uncertain times, we continue to lean into our call to serve Lexington and the people who call it home.
dedicated Lexington Volunteers
Dedicated volunteers of Lexington LF distributing supplies and loving neighbors
thank you card

Thank You!

Last month, we asked you to contact your legislator to advocate for support to non-profits during stimulus act negotiations.

Many of you took action by contacting your legislators.  Thank you! As a result of our collective action, Independent Sector recently shared that…
  • Nonprofit needs are included for the first time in all emergency relief packages related to COVID-19
  • All taxpayers can claim the charitable deduction for the first time in 34 years
  • Critical federal programs received additional funds to meet growing needs
  • and Initial federal funding is available to begin establishing systems to help voters safely participate in 2020 elections   
Thank you for helping to make this progress possible and for your support of Local Leadership Foundations and partners work on the ground in communities across the world!

An Invitation into the Chaos

How God’s Love Can Be Your Fuel Amidst COVID-19

In this season of spring, many of us are experiencing winter, with very little sight of its end date.  For some of us, it is a season of exhaustion, loss, grief, strain, and chaos. We may be experiencing trauma either first-hand or indirectly. And we may not even know it.  For those experiencing this, the stress hormone, cortisol, can be heightened putting us on “high alert.” We may experience tension and pain in our bodies, our minds may be foggy or moving too fast.  We can become easily triggered and highly reactive.  Sleep may elude us – or maybe consumes us.

What does it look like to depend upon God to lead us during this time of chaotic noise? How do we connect, be quiet. How do we simply be?  As Dave Hillis stated in last month’s Street Lights, the concept of “non-reactive leadership” may hold deep promise in these anxiety-producing times.

But how do we go about it?

When Helping Hurts

When asked by an expert of the law what is the greatest commandment, Jesus answers,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Mark 12: 28-30
Notice how Jesus identifies the second commandment, loving our neighbor, as an outflowing of loving God—I think this is no accident. Jesus is saying come to me with all you got. Your loving me is the source of loving your neighbor. Your loving me really means surrendering to me – with your body, mind, heart, and spirit. In this time of “winter”, where the needs of those in our communities have escalated, the risk of burnout and unhealth becomes even more of a danger. In normal times and in this time of crisis, it is easy to flip the order of the two commandments. Loving your neighbor becomes all-consuming. And loving God somehow gets lost in the frenzy. But this is not sustainable –personally or organizationally. Along my own journey of working alongside many “street saints” — those who are living out their vocation of loving the most vulnerable in their communities — I’ve seen and experienced plenty of burnout, exhaustion, strained relationships, addiction, self-sabotage, and organizational combustion. I wonder if sometimes this can be a reflection of having lost touch with Jesus’ two intertwined commandments. So what does following the first commandment look like in times like these? How do we surrender all to our creator who asks us to love God with all of ourselves?

“Come to Me, all you who are weary…”

Contemplata is the Latin word “to see”. Contemplative practices are those practices that provide us a way to connect with God with all of ourselves. They are practices that help us surrender all of our pieces and parts to God: 1) grounding our bodies enough to feel and release the tension and trauma we store, 2) quieting our minds enough to stop the constant egoic thoughts, 3) opening our hearts enough to be vulnerable and take down the walls of self-protection, and 4) being able to connect to receive the love, insight, and direction God has for us.

Through this practice of integrating these four elements into our lives, we are invited into a space to be still. To recognize God’s overwhelming grace-filled movement toward us. To be loved by God.

And then, from this place of being, we can move into doing. We can better hear God’s voice, we are integrated and strong for the task, and we can love our neighbor as ourselves.

A Brief Practice

Ground your body

by gently stretching your whole body. Then bring your awareness to any tension you may be holding – especially in your shoulders and hips. Gently move to release that tension.

Quiet your body

by inhaling and exhaling deeply ten times, expanding your belly as you inhale.

Open your heart

by closing your eyes and opening your palms, imagining that you are carrying a particular worry or burden in your hands. Inhale, and as you exhale, imagine letting go of that burden and giving it to God, even just for a moment.

Connect to the Spirit

by taking a scripture verse or a poem, and reading it through four times (as in Lectio Divina style), noticing what word or phrase jumps out at you, what the Holy Spirit may be saying to you, and your prayer or response. For a guided Integrated Pause video session, visit WinnSummitStrategies.com and click on Integrated Pause. On Mondays at 10 am EST, Angie offers a free “Virtual Pause” through zoom, which is a 30-minute integrated practice, especially designed for the “street saints”. You can find the invitation and other resources on the website.

Angie Winn is a member of Leadership Foundations’ Leadership Council and has spent 25 years providing leadership and organizational development to corporate, non-profit, and ministry leaders and teams.

She now leads Winn Summit Strategies and helps integrate contemplative practices for individuals, leaders and organizations, through consulting, coaching, workshops, and retreats.

She also leads yoga and meditation practices locally at her Loft on Main space outside of Orlando, FL.

india streets

Leadership Foundations is taking the lead on the COVID-19 crisis



The global crisis that we now find ourselves in, with the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, is placing unimaginable stress on vulnerable communities and those experiencing poverty. As millions are on lockdown and businesses are closing, unemployment is spiking. Paying rent and utilities, getting food and finding basics like diapers is tougher than ever before.


Yet during such a time of uncertainty and crisis, people are together to support one another in new and remarkable ways.


Local Leadership Foundations throughout the world are stepping up and taking the lead in helping demonstrate the COVID-19 crisis as a  our collective strength.


170,000 volunteers have offered to help UK fight COVID-19 | World ...


In Georgetown, Kentucky, the local Leadership Foundation, Transform Scott County is coordinating its volunteer response on behalf of the entire county. In conjunction with local government, Transform Scott County is staffing the local helpline.   


In conjunction with church partners, they are managing phone lines every day Monday-Friday. Thanks to their efforts, the elderly and people who are immunocompromised are able to get essential medicine and food, that they’d otherwise have to go without.  We then refer the request to sheriff deputies for delivery or to our local food bank for people who cannot purchase food.


Delhi Master Plans fail to crack slum resettlement puzzle - delhi ...




In Delhi, India, the local leadership Foundation, Catalyst, is serving in an extremely tense environment — many have recently lost their homes to riots, migrant farm workers have been pushed out of their humble dwellings, and the city is under a complete lock-down.


Catalyst has been given special permission and is one of the only groups in the entire city that can leave their houses to provide services. Every day, their staff work tirelessly to try to meet the emergency needs of the most vulnerable and destitute on the streets of Delhi.


Keep Us, our city, our country and the whole world in your prayers.”

says Catalyst president, Abhishek Gier.


These are just a few examples of the heroic ways in which Leadership Foundations are stepping up amidst this global crisis on behalf of vulnerable people in cities throughout the world.




Consider making a special gift today to Leadership Foundations to ensure that our network can continue to be as responsive to the growing and long term needs as we seek to not only meet emergency need, but to rebuild and rehabilitate these communities.





Nonreactive Leadership

or, Leadership in a Time of Coronavirus

a reflection by President Dave Hillis


It is in times like we find ourselves in today–with the COVID-19 pandemic on everyone’s mind–that many would say to Leadership Foundations,


“Cities as playgrounds?


They sure look more like

battlegrounds these days to me.”


With social distancing potentially making us see our neighbors as our enemies, and shelter in place orders breeding distrust and fear, it seems like our cities are becoming more like battlegrounds.


Counterintuitively, I believe that it is in times like these where this central metaphor of LF, Cities as Playgrounds, holds its greatest promise. In fact, this image of Cities as Playgrounds can remind us all of why going through a trauma like what we’re going through is even worthwhile.


So how do we live in a time of crisis like today? How do we lead?


I ultimately believe a time like this calls us to live and lead out of a place of freedom. In his second letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul simply says, “where the Spirit of God is, there is also freedom.” The movement of God is always drawing us toward a place of freedom- both interior and exterior freedom.


And by definition, being free, as a leader, means to engage in the world in a way that is non-reactive.


So here are three practical realities in which I believe non-reactive leadership can be lived out in our day-to-day lives:


1. Non-reactive Leadership is Characterized by a Non-Anxious Presence


You know leaders and you know that place in yourself that is so anxious to please the crowd in front of you, that place so eager for

the approval of others.


Leaders who are able to practice “non-anxious presence” recognize that they don’t require the approval of others.


They are clearly aware that their ultimate value comes from a source much deeper and unshakable–a source that is much different than the whims of the crowd.




2. Non-reactive Leadership Pivots From the Practice of Being Holy


A word that often holds too much religious baggage, the word “Holy” simply points to its relative with a ‘W’, “Whole.


When we see things as a whole, we see how they are connected to one another.


This then becomes our working assumption in leadership–that ALL things are connected. But the trick is, you can only see this interconnectedness from a nonreactive place.





3. Non-reactive Leadership Leads to an Eschatological – not Apocalyptic – Way of Seeing


Trappist monk Thomas Merton was known to make this distinction. When we see with Apocalyptic eyes, we are seeing in a way that is in response to what is right in front of us–in other words, reactively, out of fear for what we think the future holds.


When we see with Eschatological Eyes, we see with the eyes of hope. This doesn’t paper over the harsh realities we’re experiencing in our day-to-day lives, on our city streets or in our quarantined communities. But nonetheless we can imagine and envision hope in a way that brings our reality into sharper focus–that can envision the fullness of creation being within our reach.



It is in this place of non-reactivity, of freedom, that all of us can continue to see our communities as places of God’s deep hope and love. Even in times of crisis, God’s promise of our cities as playgrounds is there for us to live into.


LF Theological Roundtable: Jim Wallis on Leadership amidst Crisis

On a quarterly basis, Leadership Foundations holds a quarterly conversation with our network on what it looks like to think theologically as local Leadership Foundations see their cities as playgrounds.


We were blessed to host bestselling author and public theologian Jim Wallis, who shared about what it looks like to lead and be a follower of Christ in times of crisis.




Meet Mario Matos

Meet Mario Matos, one of the remarkable leaders in the Leadership Foundations Network. Mario serves as the president of Sinergia, the Leadership Foundation of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.


In a city that is growing rapidly, with a broadening chasm between the rich and poor, Sinergia is bringing together nonprofits, churches, and businesses to work together for the common good of their city!


We had the gift of hearing from Mario recently at a conversation hosted by LF’s Leadership Council, a group LF’s most faithful and dedicated supporters. You can listen to the wonderful conversation by clicking the link below:





Prayer Amidst the ‘Lockdown’

Amidst pain, fear and uncertainty, we often find those places of hope in the most unexpected places. Irish priest Fr. Richard Hendrick OFM makes this point in his poem below, titled ‘Lockdown.’

Let it be a prayer for all of us in these times of uncertainty:



Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.


They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,



The original Facebook post can be found here. Like and share to spread the word.

Mentoring Initiative

Leadership Foundations Mentoring Initiative


Mentoring Sites

  • Metro Atlanta Leadership Foundation, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • Billings Leadership Foundation, Billings MT, USA
  • Charleston Leadership Foundation, Charleston, SC, USA
  • Justice Journey Alliance, Chicago, IL, USA
  • Indian Ministries of North America, Cleveland, TN, USA
  • Dallas Leadership Foundation, Dallas, TX, USA
  • Miami Valley Leadership Foundation, Dayton, OH, USA
  • Pillars of Promise, Des Moines, IA, USA
  • Lane Leadership Foundation, Eugene, OR, USA
  • The Center for Community Transformation, Leadership Foundation of Fresno, Fresno, CA, USA
  • Transform Scott County, Georgetown, KY, USA
  • GR Center for Community Transformation, Grand Rapids, MI, USA
  • One by One Leadership Foundation, Immokalee, FL, USA
  • Jackson Leadership Foundation, Jackson, MS, USA
  • The First Coast LF, Jacksonville, FL, USA
  • Knoxville Leadership Foundation, Knoxville, TN, USA
  • The Root Cellar, Lewiston, ME, USA
  • Lexington Leadership Foundation, Lexington, KY, USA
  • CIS of San Fernando Valley and Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Memphis Leadership Foundation, Memphis, TN, USA
  • Urban Ventures, Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • Philadelphia Leadership Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • New Vision, Philippi, WV, USA
  • Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • Portland Leadership Foundation, Portland, OR, USA
  • Next Chapter Ministries, Rochester, MN, USA
  • Savannah Leadership Foundation, Savannah, GA, USA
  • Stockton Leadership Foundation, Stockton, CA, USA
  • Wilmington Area Leadership Foundation, Wilmington, NC, USA