Humphrey School News

New Humphrey School Leadership Program Has Cultural Identity at its Core

June 6, 2017
Training worshop

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is joining with two community partners to launch a new type of leadership development program that emphasizes participants’ cultural identity as the key to their leadership success.

The program, called Change Network, is run by the Humphrey School’s Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center and the Minneapolis nonprofit Cultural Wellness Center, in partnership with the Bush Foundation.

The focus on cultural awareness is a departure from more traditional leadership training, and forms the core of the year-long program, said Stephanie Jacobs, director of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center.

Through the unique curriculum developed by the Humphrey School and the Cultural Wellness Center, participants will spend time exploring their own cultural identities—including their lineage, assumptions, values, and education—to help shape their approach to leadership.

In addition, each participant will be matched with an elder from their cultural community, to reinforce the concept that leadership development is also a reflection of one’s upbringing.

“Our participants will get an internal grounding—examining who they are—along with developing the skills to navigate the system to make it better,” Jacobs said.

The emphasis on cultural identity supports the Change Network’s goal to prepare leaders to create change that is more equitable and inclusive of all Minnesotans.

“As our region becomes more diverse, people who want to make their community better for everyone need to be able to work with folks from all walks of life,” said Anita Patel, Bush Foundation’s Leadership program director and a Humphrey School alumna (MPP ’04). “Sometimes, to be effective, you need to change the way you get things done.”

“We have persistent problems in many communities that are based on cultural differences, and we need a new kind of leadership to address them,” added Jacobs. “When we have more people leading through a cultural lens, that’s how we go about changing the systems that are perpetuating these problems.”

Applications are being accepted for 15 spots available for the inaugural training session, which begins in October. The program is open to any Minnesotan who wants to be a “change agent,” said Jacobs— ideally mid-career individuals who see things in the organizations around them that they believe should change. The goal is to create a diverse group in all its forms, including gender, race, sexual orientation, geography, and occupation.

There is no cost for the participants, and the program will cover travel expenses for those who live in greater Minnesota. Each participant will develop a plan for a change they want to make in their own organization, and will receive up to $5,000 to implement that plan.  

In addition to Minnesota, the Bush Foundation is working with organizations in North Dakota and South Dakota to deliver Change Network programs in those states. 

Learn more about Change Network, and how to apply, here.

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