LF Blog and News

A 40 Year Legacy: The Founding Story- Episode 39

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


In this episode, Dave and Rick continue their conversation about LF’s 40th anniversary. Together they discuss key moments, people, and ideas that contributed to the founding of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation in 1978. Complete with words from our founder Reid Carpenter, they look at how this moment in our history has continued to blossom in Pittsburgh and inspire the love and work of LF member cities around the world. Listen here and send in any questions you would like answered to info@leadershipfoundations.org.


Highway of Hope

Our members transform communities around the world by driving the LF wheel of change. This work was on clear display at a series of meetings in Nairobi in early March. Hosted by CTM Kenya, the Local Leadership Foundation, the time featured everything from board training to basketball clinics.


CTM Kenya was founded in 2006 by Gideon Ochieng with the mission of changing geography into community. One way they work toward this goal is the Highway of Hope (HOH) program in Kibera, East Africa’s largest informal settlement with a population of over 1 million people. As a part of the LF Global Youth Initiative, HOH seeks to bring hope and transform Kibera through basketball, mentoring, and educational opportunities for local youth.


The CTM Kenya team looked to the LF wheel of change to give them a framework to take on this large endeavor. They began by engaging leaders of good faith and good will across the city and shared the vision for HOH. The program would build the capacity of local leaders by providing them mentoring and basketball skills training. These leaders would then be able to deliver a robust joint initiative to local youth at the 16 courts that would be built in Kibera. The idea resonated with the community, government officials like Kenneth Okoth who is a member of the Kenyan Parliament and a lifelong resident of Kibera, the local Kibera Basketball Association, and principals of government and faith-based schools in the area.


Over the last few years, HOH has gained momentum. They have built courts and had diverse partners from around the world like the Jr. NBA, Texas A&M, and Athletes In Action join the work. Earlier this month, the partners came together to provide training to mentors and coaches, deliver programming to 140 athletes from Kibera, and connect the youth to other resources in the community.


Antony Maina, the Principal of Little Prince Primary School shared, “What makes basketball most important [for the youth] is the presence of an adult. They need a mentor, someone that can help them make correct choices. Someone who transmits not only a skill, but a way of life. Because, essentially, at the end of it all, it’s about how they live their life.”


That is the hope; that as CTM Kenya and other LLFs around the world drive the wheel of change, individual lives are transformed and communities like Kibera become more like playgrounds.


Click here to watch a short video about the Highway of Hope project.

A 40 Year Legacy- Episode 38

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


In 2018, Leadership Foundations marks its 40th anniversary. In this episode, Dave and Rick discuss the importance of remembrance and set up our next podcast series which will explore significant events over the last 40 years that have brought us to where we are today and position the LF network for the next decades of impact. Listen here and send in any questions you would like answered to info@leadershipfoundations.org.


Board Training Initiative

William Blake famously stated, “Execution is the chariot of genius.” Execution can take on many different forms, or “chariots.” Often, for nonprofits, chariots are programmatic in nature: youth, housing, and the like. For example, we desire good health care for the underserved, so we create a clinic. Efforts like this are good and should be roundly applauded. However, and for the long-term health of an organization, there are other important chariots.


Nowhere does a chariot take on a deeper meaning than boards of directors. Over the years we have come to believe that the primary determinant of the success or failure of LF members and partners is the state of their boards. Boards are the proverbial canary in the mineshaft: healthy boards equal a healthy organization; unhealthy boards equal an unhealthy organization.


Two years ago, LF was approached by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to participate in a program to strengthen boards. The Trust came to recognize their grants yielded a much better return on investment if the grantees had healthy boards. They also recognized that in order to scale this program they would need partners who not only share this vision but also have the capacity to execute it. The Trust asked LF to apply and we received a three-year grant to provide training to 30 LF members and partners globally. We call it the Board Training Initiative (BTI).


Over these first two years of the BTI, LF has developed a curriculum and has trained 15 LLFs and partners with plans to train another 15 next year. Sam Skillern, Executive Director of the Salem Leadership Foundation, reflected on their organization’s experience in the BTI, “Even an organization that’s been effective and healthy for 21 years can learn new ideas and deepen proven practices.  The LF Board Training Initiative was time and treasure well spent.  The training not only provided sound and useful information, it was fun and relational. As a result of the time, board meetings are more focused, more interesting, more inspiring, and more generative.” The program has been so successful that the LF members in Africa have created a contextualized version of the BTI that will launch next year.


At its core the BTI builds more effective boards- the chariots that allow its participants to execute their mission more faithfully as they help make cities more like playgrounds.

Eucharistic Leadership Review- Episode 37

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


How does the Eucharist impact and shape leadership? In this episode, Dave and Rick look back on the last 10 months and our dive into the idea of Eucharistic leadership and its four movements- taken, blessed, broken, and given. Together they discuss the key questions and lessons that surfaced and the implications these have for our leadership and everyday lives.


Wheel of Change

Leadership Foundations is in the business of transforming cities. But, how can this kind of large-scale change actually take place? We believe that leadership, committed to an entire city over time, is the key to transformation. Through over 40 years of field-tested work we have created a theory of change that equips our members to take on their city’s greatest challenges. These leaders drive the wheel of change in their cities through our three functions: engaging leaders of good faith and good will, building the capacity of others, and developing joint initiatives. Through consistent application of these three functions to a particular place, cities do in fact get better.


Our members want to see their cities transformed, and we want to help them do this in practical ways that make their communities more whole. That is why we focus on resourcing our network. We do this by connecting, developing, and equipping them through a variety of key services. Whether it is the support of a Senior Associate, a veteran coach and mentor assigned to each member, or using the Stages of Impact tool to develop a plan to deepen their impact and effective use of the three functions, we are working to strengthen our members. This commitment to developing the leadership in our network makes our members better, which in turn makes our cities better.


Around the world, Local Leadership Foundations are using the LF wheel of change to transform their cities. As we begin 2018, we are excited to report that our members are doing just that: driving positive permanent improvement in their cities, making them more like playgrounds.


Watch our video to learn more about the powerful work Leadership Foundations is doing in cities around the world through the wheel of change.

Eucharistic Leadership: Given- Episode 36

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


What is the purpose of being given and how does it impact leadership? In this episode, Dave and Rick talk with Jack Fortin, Chair of the Leadership Foundations Board and Senior Fellow at Augsburg College, about the importance of this action in Eucharistic leadership- being given for the sake of our community. They explore the idea of being given power so that we, individually and corporately, may give it away to others, thereby acting as servant leaders and establishing trustworthiness, which is central to giving.


Eucharistic Leadership Whispercast: Given- Episode 35

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


How does power shape leadership? Can one lead without being in control? In this Whispercast, Dave and Rick dive into the fourth and final movement of Eucharistic Leadership, being given. Join them as they discuss how this notion can shape our leadership and move us to empower others. This sets up our next full-length episode where we will be joined by Jack Fortin, the Leadership Foundations Board Chair and Senior Fellow at Augsburg College. Listen here and send in any questions you would like answered to info@leadershipfoundations.org.


Eucharistic Leadership: Broken- Episode 34

Take a moment to listen to the latest episode of the City as Playground Podcast.


What if our identity is not wrapped up in getting it right or being perfect? In this episode, Dave and Rick talk with Kris Rocke (Executive Director of Street Psalms and LF Senior Associate) about his experience of the third movement of Eucharistic leadership, being broken. They dive into the experience of being broken and how our wounds can bear new seeds of life. This counter-intuitive movement is vital to transforming cities into playgrounds.