New Leaders Council Philadelphia expands training program

New Leaders Council Philadelphia expands training program

From The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
April 16, 2014, 8:56 a.m., Posted by Kellan White

Kellan White is co-director of New Leaders Council Philadelphia, which Knight Foundation supports to help recruit and train the city’s next generation of leaders. Photo credit: New Leaders Council Philadelphia.

At some point every leader answers the call of leadership. They are faced with a challenge, they make a choice and then they take action. Too often these actions are done in silos and though small change is accomplished, that change is not sustainable. When leaders seek out other leaders and break the silos, they accomplish real sustainable change. This is why I joined the 2013 New Leaders Council Fellowship class and became co-director of New Leaders Council Philadelphia in September.

New Leaders Council is a nonprofit that recruits, trains and promotes the progressive political entrepreneurs of tomorrow: trendsetters, elected officials and civically engaged leaders in business and industry who will shape the future.

In Philadelphia, there is the belief that as a city we will do better depending on the contributions of the next generation of leaders. The New Leaders Council gives young leaders the opportunity to sharpen their skills and build their networks to effectively collaborate and create change. We do this not just in Philadelphia but in 30 other cities and regions across the United States, including Miami, Missoula, Mont., New York and San Francisco.

The training that we provide develops tangible, technical and actionable skills for the fellows in fundraising, campaigning and messaging. Though this training is the nation’s premiere political entrepreneurship training program, it is not the reason the next set of great leaders will be former New Leaders Council Fellows. It’s because fellows are challenged to take deliberate action.

Gavin Keirans, co-director of New Leaders Council Philadelphia since September 2012, was already a leader when he joined the New Leaders Council Fellowship class of 2012. Gavin had served two terms as Penn State University student body president.  He came to the New Leaders Council with skills and talents that had already yielded positive results. Yet the New Leaders Council challenged him to make a difference by creating and executing a plan. Gavin answered that challenge by creating The Philadelphia Catholic League Alumni Corps, an organization dedicated to bringing together Catholic High School alumni through service leadership in Greater Philadelphia. Gavin is now using the skills developed by New Leaders Council to answer the call of a new challenge and is running for a seat on the Penn State University board of trustees.

Much like Gavin, I came to New Leaders Council with a history of leadership that produced results. I was a community organizer, sat on several nonprofit boards and was building a network to help me succeed. I believed I was on my way to accomplishing my goals, but New Leaders Council challenged me  to venture into new areas and truly lead from the front. As a result I co-founded the Pattison Leader Group, an organization dedicated to engaging millennials in the political process to ensure our voices are heard. New Leaders Council also pushed me to become involved with other organizations empowering millennials, such as Ignite Good, Young Involved Philadelphia and the Spruce Foundation. The collection of young leaders I met as a New Leaders Council fellow made me believe that our generation can and will make Philadelphia a better city.

New Leaders Council pushed both Gavin and me to aspire to higher goals. We were challenged not to settle for what we had already accomplished but to pursue new paths. Gavin and I both stepped up to take on the role of chapter co-directors because we know that the New Leaders Council will challenge the brightest and the best young leaders in Philadelphia to create the change our city needs.

Our new partnership with Knight Foundation will allow us to reach out to our city’s rising leaders and ensure they get the quality training that has inspired the 60-plus New Leaders Council Philadelphia alumni to reach new levels of successful involvement. We don’t know every challenge that our city will face in the future, but we do know that it will be the New Leaders Council fellows that will be leading the charge to make a difference.