In 2014, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) selected seventeen (17) emerging leaders from Asian and Pacific Islander serving nonprofits. These leaders were asked to commit time to developing their leadership skills and continue to build their capacity as nonprofit leaders. The participants ranged in age from 26 to 55, were of 9 different ethnic backgrounds, and live in 8 different cities. Many of these leaders work in small nonprofits with little to no support for personal professional development. With the support of America Express Foundation, General Motors Foundation, Ong Family Foundation and Southwest Airlines, LEAP was able to bring these diverse leaders together, many of them visiting New York and Los Angeles for the first time.
LEAP’s Emerging Leaders Program is a unique combination of leadership building, capacity building, coaching, and peer learning. The program lasts for six months and includes one week of training in Los Angeles, six months of one-on-one coaching, and three days of training in New York. When the program began, participants talked about their hopes of building skills and bringing tools back to their organizations. They were encouraged to work in teams and think about collaboration locally and nationally. Having had an opportunity to spend time with each other, they became each other’s support network and resource. Although some of the participants had known each other before, by the end of the program they all expressed a feeling of community they had not expected. Although they live in seven different states, they are in touch often via social media, posting about opportunities, management tips, and providing advice. As I am typing right now, they are sending notes celebrating birthdays and accomplishments.
Evaluations have shown that 100% of the participants feel more confident and less isolated than ever before. The ability for everyone to come together and build community was invaluable. Here are just a few of the testimonials that we have received:
“LEAP is amazing. I am so thankful for all that you've given me, direct skills, personal awareness, and---most importantly--a support network which I have never had before.”
“Looking forward to continuing relationships with my group in a way that is helpful to me and helpful to them. Hooray!”
Bringing together participants who would not have the means to travel or the opportunity to attend development leadership opportunities, this program reinforced the value of diversity and resource sharing for organizations across the country. In addition, often times when working in nonprofits that serve the Asian and Pacific Islander community, staff members can feel isolated and under resourced. It is programs like these the rejuvenate the leaders that are passionate about the communities they serve.
Thank you again to all of our sponsors for helping us to build stronger communities and connect emerging leaders!