Leadership For Justice

Leadership for Justice equips equal justice leaders with the competencies needed to work in highly diverse settings, to help their organizations navigate and succeed in increasingly complex economic and policy environments, and to understand and address the high-stake challenges facing the clients and communities they serve.

Built upon seven core practices that distinguish effective equal justice leaders, Leadership for Justice focuses both on sharpening leadership skills needed for effective external advocacy, as well as on the individual self-awareness and interpersonal skills needed to lead with authenticity and cross-cultural competency.

This multi-day, transformative online and in-person training program will prepare advocates to:

  • Communicate individual and institutional values, vision and mission, and motivate and engage others in pursuit of a shared purpose.
  • Utilize systems thinking tools to analyze problems and develop effective, feasible solutions to achieve your goals.
  • Engage diverse stakeholders in problem-solving and solution development in ways that build, maintain and develop relationships of trust and respect.
  • Utilize tools that ensure effective planning, priority-setting and accountability.
  • Identify your personal values, behaviors, and styles, including how these are perceived by others, along with insights into their potential impact on your leadership effectiveness.
  • Identify your leadership strengths and areas for improvement and build a plan for continued leadership development beyond the course. 


Learn more about our leadership for justice approach and core practices.

Review the course agenda.

Upcoming course:

September 4-8, online

September 11-15, onsite at Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus

Register now!

The Shriver Center’s approach to leadership development is not based on positional authority, although we recognize the importance of highly effective institutional leaders. Our approach builds leadership in all areas of institutional and community life, regardless of specific roles. We focus on multiple levels of leadership, including:

  • Individual – Leadership of self that is grounded in a clear understanding of one’s core values, purpose, gifts, and vision for work in the world.
  • Institutional – Leadership at all levels of institutional life that honors diversity, transparency, effective communications, and skilled planning and implementation for both internal operations and external programming.
  • Community – Leadership based on strong cross-sector partnerships with other organizations and that builds power and voice in community groups.
  • Broader Equal Justice Movement – Leadership that understands the current and historic role of civil legal aid organizations in the broader movements to end poverty and discrimination, and that utilizes multiple advocacy tools and works within broad networks of community partners to support clients’ and communities’ determination of their social justice goals.


The Leadership for Justice course is built around seven core practices that distinguish effective equal justice leaders:

  • Strategic Communication – The ability to communicate individual or institutional values, vision and mission, and to motivate and engage others in pursuit of a shared purpose.
  • Self-Awareness – The ability to know one’s own values and vision, and to increase one’s ability to lead authentically (“walk your talk”).
  • Systems Thinking – The ability to understand cause and effect relationships and interactions among various parts of a whole with the goal of developing effective, feasible solutions that address underlying causes or problems.
  • Workable Unity – The ability to work across difference and bring together diverse perspectives and experiences in ways that honor the values of equity, inclusion and respect.
  • Accountable Performance – The ability to ensure that the organization’s values are at the forefront of its work and that its vision and mission are advanced by creating an environment that ensures planning, priority-setting and accountability.
  • New Leader Development – The ability to cultivate and inspire a diverse set of new equal justice leaders through mentoring, coaching, effective supervision, inspiration, networking, and other professional development opportunities.
  • Renewal – The ability to develop reflective practices for personal, professional and institutional renewal. This includes a discipline of stepping back from the day-to-day work occasionally to examine changing internal and external environments, and to determine how to adapt to those changes.

Leadership for Justice is a blended course - a combination of online & onsite activities over the course of two weeks.

Download Full Agenda PDF.

Week of September 4, 2017:

  • Independent online activities – conducted through Shriver Center online campus:
    • Watch the Navigation video for an overview of the course site.  Review instructions for preparing your computer to participate in Live Sessions.
    • Review information about Leadership for Justice goals, core practices, learning outcomes, expectations & schedule of activities.
    • Introduce yourself through the discussion forum and get to know your classmates.
    • Review selected readings on legal aid and equal justice community history and core values.
    • Complete leadership effectiveness self-assessment
  • Live sessions: Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 1 - 4 pm eastern
    • Webinar 1: Introduces seven core leadership practices
    • Webinar 2: introduces leadership practice “Strategic Communication” and facilitated small group
    • Webinar 3: Introduces leadership practice “Self-Awareness”

Onsite, Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus, September 12 - 15

  • Tuesday, September 12: 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    • Introduction and welcome
    • Introduction to leadership stories
    • Strategic Communication: individual and organizational levels   
  • Wednesday, September 13: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    • Strategic Communication: Examining organizational mission
    • Systems Thinking: Application of tools to case scenario
    • Workable Unity: Stakeholder engagement and decision-making 
    • Group Dinner
    • Evening activity
  • Thursday, September 14: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    • Self-Awareness: Discovering elements of one’s leadership story
    • Systems Thinking: Application to one’s own issues
    • Workable Unity: Tools for collaborative problem-solving  
    • Accountable Performance: Project planning
    • Self-Awareness:  Leadership effectiveness self-assessments
  • Friday, September 15: 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    • Strategic Communication – Tools for framing and message development
    • Renewal: Examining renewal at both individual and organizational levels
    • Leadership development planning
    • Continuing peer-support through ongoing leadership network 


Description: Bonnie Allen's pictureBonnie Allen is the principal of CHOOSE-CHANGE, an independent consulting practice focused on organizational development and leadership coaching. Her current clients include the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, where she manages the Multi-State Legal and Policy Advocacy Network, and is senior faculty for the Equal Justice Leadership Academy. Bonnie also consults for the Florida Bar Foundation in developing a new strategic framework for grantmaking. Between 2007 and 2014, Bonnie served as development director and in several other leadership roles at the Mississippi Center for Justice. Previous roles include serving as executive director of the Center for Law & Renewal, based at the Fetzer Institute, and Just Neighbors Immigrant Ministry, Inc. Bonnie has held leadership roles at the American Bar Association Center for Pro Bono and National Legal Aid and Defender Association. She also taught as an adjunct clinical law instructor at the University of Maryland School of Law where she helped launch a Leadership, Ethics and Democracy Initiative. A native Floridian, Bonnie is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Law and Rhodes College. She also holds a master’s degree in theological studies from Garrett Seminary at Northwestern University. Bonnie began her legal practice as a judicial law clerk at the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, and then was in private practice in Tampa before shifting to public interest law.

Description: http://povertylaw.org/sites/default/files/images/training/courses/community-lawyering/dorcas.gilmore.jpg

Dorcas Gilmore is a Visiting Practitioner in Residence in the Community & Economic Development Law Clinic at American University Washington College of Law. She is an advocate and consultant, who previously worked as Assistant General Counsel for the national office of the NAACP and Skadden Fellow & Staff Attorney at the Community Law Center, Inc. Dorcas has represented nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and coalitions to advance racial and economic equity. Dorcas was the 2004 Gilbert & Jaylee Mead Public Interest Scholar at the University of Maryland School of Law. Prior to law school, she provided workforce development training and entrepreneurship education in the Dominican Republic and the Washington, DC area. Dorcas is Vice Chair of the ABA Business Law Section's Community Economic Development Committee and Board of Directors of the National Black Worker Center Project and the Baltimore Algebra Project.                                                                                                          

Description: http://povertylaw.org/sites/default/files/images/training/courses/faculty/ellen-hemley.pngEllen Hemley brings over 30 years of experience in the equal justice community to her role as Vice President of Advocate Resources & Training at the Shriver Center.  Ellen directs the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Training Institute and Leadership Academies. Prior to joining the Shriver Center, Ellen served as executive director of the Center for Legal Aid Education, which provided training and leadership development programs to equal justice advocates nationally. Previously, Ellen was Director of Training at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute where, among other things, she oversaw CLAE's predecessor, the Legal Services Training Consortium of New England. She also served for many years as an independent consultant; her clients included the American Bar Association, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the Florida Bar Foundation, the Washington Access to Justice Commission, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, and scores of other legal aid networks, bar foundations and justice-related programs across the country.