The mission of Social Justice Leadership (SJL) is to help usher in the transformation to a just society by catalyzing a new generation of individuals and organizations to lead a renewed social justice movement. SJL works with grassroots organizations across the country to develop and implement Transformative Organizing, a new framework for social change. We believe that Transformative Organizing (TO) can both change the basic approach and assumptions of social justice organizing, and greatly expand its impact. TO promotes a long-term view of fundamental social change:
- Transformative Organizing seeks to liberate society from oppressive social, political, and economic systems and structures.
- It equally seeks to liberate individuals from the personal suffering of stress and anxiety that so often manifest in our lives, our interpersonal relationships and our leadership...
Transformative Organizing is an approach to organizing that recognizes personal and societal liberation as interdependent (Theory of Change), or deeply interrelated. It is about creating deep change simultaneously in three areas: how we are as people, how we relate to each other, and how we structure society. To implement this approach, SJL works at the individual, organizational and societal levels through programs focused on leaders and organizations that are committed to making a more powerful impact in their communities and building a more powerful social justice movement.
We believe that a core of high performing organizations with skilled, compassionate, and contemplative leadership is essential to building a movement for social justice. We envision organizations that maintain strong, healthy, and sustainable internal cultures reflective of their social change values and supportive of the individual growth of leaders at all levels of the organization, from members to directors.
In these organizations, directors have the management skills necessary to build leadership teams characterized by norms of authentic communication, mutual support and high performance that can define and achieve ambitious visions for change. Organizers at all levels are supported in their professional and personal development. These organizations work to build long-term strategic alliances based on trust and authentic communication, shared vision and analysis, and alignment of resources. These alliances are vital to winning concrete changes in the short-term, and to building the infrastructure for broader movements in the long term.
Social Justice Leadership began working toward this new model of leadership, organization and movement in 2003. SJL was founded by social justice organizers who wanted to develop a way to practice social change that could ultimately transform the social justice movement. They believed that organizing needed to evolve beyond current models and forms in order to make a meaningful impact at the scope and scale necessary in today's rapidly changing society. Witnessing challenges in the field first-hand after decades of community organizing, SJL founders began collectively exploring a very simple question:
What new models of leadership, organization and movement could fundamentally transform people, relationships, and the broader society?
Recognizing that grassroots organizations are the foundation of any successful social justice movement and that those organizations' leaders and organizers play a catalytic role in enacting change, SJL began and continues to do its work with both members and staff of grassroots organizations. We started with a series of Leadership Semesters that drew together small groups of organizational directors to explore transformative practice as a way to increase organizational capacity and effectiveness. Soon after those semesters, we launched ACTIVATE!, an intensive program for new organizers that combined weekly training, political education and practice at SJL with on-the-ground experience interning daily at grassroots organizations.Building on the success and enthusiasm generated by those initial programs, SJL has grown and since launched a number of programs and initiativestargeted to support leaders and organizations in building the movement we need to meet the challenges of our times. We are now reaching hundreds of individuals and organizations across the country through our NY Transformation Organizing Initiative, Florida Transformative Organizing Initiative, the National Domestic Workers Alliance Sol Initiative, and BOLD.
To learn more about our approach, we encourage you to read "Transformative Organizing: Towards Liberation of Self and Society."