From designing strategic campaigns and building lasting coalitions, to fundraising and managing staff and volunteers, executive directors are expected to inhabit a wide-range of skills and demonstrate many facets of leadership. Over the course of several months, we interviewed seventeen US social justice leaders under 40 who serve as the executive or co-director of an organization. Our goal was to learn more about the experiences of younger leaders committed to large-scale change. The executive directors we talked with are an impressive group – creative, thoughtful and speaking from their hearts. It was clear from the interviews that they are driven by their commitment to their organizations. They are executive directors in order to contribute to a larger movement for social change.
Yet, younger leaders in the social justice movement are facing big challenges such as economic crises impacting communities, reductions in funding especially for local groups, and race and gender dynamics that create even more barriers and pressure. Their experiences – and their needs – speak to the changing landscape of the social justice movement, and shed light on the infrastructure needed to create sustainable managers, organizations, and networks for years to come.
Vision for Change: A New Wave of Social Justice Leadership, written by Helen Kim and Frances Kunreuther, details the specific findings of our conversations with these diverse younger leaders, focusing on what it takes to do their jobs and makes recommendations for concrete change that will support their visions, and help to build a stronger progressive infrastructure for all stakeholders.