Socialize With Us

Leadership for Equity & Opportunity (LEO) | 2018 Cohort

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 5:00pm PST
Nile Hall
1233 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA 94612
Add to Calendar

Rise Together is excited to announce that the application process for the 2018 Cohort of Leadership for Equity & Opportunity (LEO) is now open! LEO is a Bay Area learning-in-action program that equips community leaders from all sectors to produce extraordinary results for values based systemic and equitable change. This unique opportunity launched last year with a cohort of over 75 leaders representing all 9 Bay Area counties who are working to create measurable and equitable results through projects in their workplace and in the community.  

LEO participants bring to the program a project, ideally in the context of something they are already working on, that they hope will impact equity and opportunity in the areas of education, employment, housing and other basic needs. Participants learn transformative leadership skills and project design skills to break through the challenge of working across sectors to shift systems while solving problems.  

This game-changing opportunity with facilitator Dr. Monica Sharma, former Director of Leadership and Capacity Development for the United Nations, is helping build the momentum, capacity and synergy needed for sustainable change in the Bay Area. Several funders took advantage of the opportunity to send grantees to help build their capacity to reach the results they seek through their work, including Marin Community Foundation, Hellman Foundation and United Way Bay Area.  

Deadline for Application: January 10, 2018

Contact Megan Joseph for more information:

What is needed to create a Bay Area where everyone has proserity, equity & opportunity? 

  • Systems oriented leaders that can move beyond siloed, individual or competitive efforts and work across organizations and sectors to overcome the status quo and traditional authority structures
  • Collaborative efforts that foster leadership, grow power at all levels and develop a shared understanding of the complex issues we are working to address
  • Strategically aligned initiatives across a critical mass of partners that impact education, employment and basic needs:
    • Increase in families accessing affordable childcare and preschool
    • Increase in youth and adults employed in good jobs, defined as living wage jobs with fair working conditions retained over time
    • Increase in stabilization of communities through decreased displacement of families
    • Increase in families/individuals spending 30% or less on housing
    • Increase in safety net for families
  • A network of partners that have the capacity, trust, power and opportunities for action to strategically shift policies and norms that embed inequality such as funding, policy, narratives and service delivery
  • A new public narrative about poverty that recognizes it is in our collective best interest for everyone to have economic opportunity

What will we do in this program? 

  • Apply cutting edge leadership principles that have been tested globally to local efforts to create positive systemic and equitable change
  • Move passion into action through practical principles and tools for shifting systems and norms for equitable sustainable change
  • Build partnerships and design regional action to create measurable short and long term change
  • Learn how to design projects to simultaneously solve problems,  shift systems & norms and activate shared values
  • Communication practices for creating a  new narrative about economic opportunity
  • Personal leadership development, tapping into and unleashing the powerful systems change leader in all of us and supporting others to do the same
  • Activate and connect each initiative’s contribution to create exponential change
  • Transform everyday activities – meetings, fundraising, communications, planning – to move the equity agenda forward

Learning in Action

Participants will bring to the program a project, ideally in the context of something they are already working on, that they hope will impact equity and opportunity in the areas of education, employment and basic needs. The expectation is that participants will continue after the program to use the knowledge, capacities and project design skills in the community for positive change.


Dr. Monica Sharma, trained as a physician and epidemiologist, worked for the United Nations since 1988 for 22 years. She has published and presented over 250 articles in journals and international forums. Currently, she engages worldwide as an International Expert and Practitioner on Leadership Development for sustainable and equitable change. She works with United Nations, universities, management institutions, governments, business, media and community organizations. She is the Tata Chair Professor at the Tata Institute of Social 3 Sciences in Mumbai.

As a practitioner, her proven track record of generating measurable results at scale, as well as enhancing leadership on every continent, is unique. She designs and facilitates programs for whole systems transformation and leadership development in both developed and developing countries. Using cutting–edge transformational approaches and methodologies, the purpose is to achieve measurable and sustainable change. She also designs and implements workshops – ‘learning-in-action programs’ - with both business and non-profit organizations on different aspects of Leadership Development for Sustainable Change.

She is currently engaged with over 20 organizations worldwide. Monica is now working to foster emerging leaders world-wide – proactively seeking out potential leaders, unleashing their power of effective creativity, enabling them to manifest their full potential. These leaders recognize the invisible, multiple patterns and systems that shape societal and planetary situations and actions; they distinguish, design and deliver actions sourced from self-awareness and empathy; manifest sustainable and equitable change, creating new patterns as they solve problems.

In 2009, Monica Sharma received "The Spirit of the United Nations Award”, given to a person whose work is an expression of the core principles, spirit and vision on which the United Nations was founded. Monica Sharma was honored because “of her inspirational leadership, skilled wisdom and devoted attention to the United Nations,…for guidance in developing effective strategic frameworks for action for application world-wide…..that has manifested in effective programs and leadership development initiatives.” Monica Sharma also received the prestigious Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) 2009 Honorary Membership Award, for her contribution in fostering transformational leadership world-wide resulting in measurable change and for her strategic work with the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH) related to nursing and health care.


Session 1:  Being Change - January 24-26

Who are we as community leaders? What are our shared values? What is it inside of us that motivates us and keeps us committed to our work in the face of challenging times? Who do we need to be to create the change we want to see? How do we listen deeply for shared values and opportunities to leverage change? How do we become systems leaders empowered with the tools we need to create change? How do we begin to look at our work through the three components of sustainable change (solving problems, shifting systems and activating potential)?

Session 2: Designing Change - March 21-23

How do we design our projects and align grants and strategic plans to simultaneously solve problems, shift systems and activate our own and our community’s potential for change? How do we see and address the larger systems inherent in the problems we are trying to solve? How do we plan differently to create the impact we want to see? What are the different stages of leadership development and how do they inform our collaborative efforts? How do we talk about the change we want to create and enroll others in creating this change? How do we connect events, programs and other activities to measurable outcomes and impact?

Session 3: Leading Change - May 15-17

How do we run meetings differently and more effectively to move the agenda forward? How do we empower others to lead the change they wish to see? How do we fundraise more effectively and sustainably? How do we identify and use leverage points to create scalable systemic change? How do we hold multiple perspectives and transcend divisiveness while adhering to universal values? How do we effectively track and measure the change we are creating through our projects over time? How do we align multiple projects and initiatives toward a unified goal?

Weekly Calls

In addition to the 3 sessions, each participant will be assigned to a learning group with 2 other participants.  One 45 minute call per week is expected during the time between sessions to activate and deepen the application of what is learned each session. Comprehensive instructions will be provided in the program to guide these calls. 

Attendance at all 3 sessions is required.

Target Audience

Individuals and organizations working toward creating equity and economic opportunity in the Bay Area through education, employment and basic needs.  The course is appropriate for all levels of leadership and experience. Executives and Heads of State have benefited as much as students or community advocates – and we need all levels to work together to create change. 

As this is a significant investment in time and financial resources, if you want to talk more deeply about the content and results, please contact Kate Seely, DIrector of Leadership, Culture, and Community, at


$875 which includes all materials and refreshments. You can register here

Deadline for Application: January 10, 2018

Limited sliding scale fees available for individuals/organizations who show need.  Please contact Khammany at for a scholarship application.


United Way of the Bay Area

East Bay Community Foundation

Marin Community Foundation

Y & H Soda Foundation