Bridge-Building Leadership Initiative

California Campus Compact’s Bridge-Building Leadership Initiative evolved from discussions among our team around two questions we found ourselves continually asking one another: “Why are there so few people of color leading the field of civic and community engagement?” and “What perspectives might be missing without the unique experiences, knowledge and ways of being that diverse leaders offer?”

In a July/August 2009 article in Nonprofit World, “What about the Next Generation of Leaders of Color?” Marla Cornelius and Steve Lew note that “the nonprofit sector is approximately 81 percent white as are the executive directors leading these organizations.” Yet, they point out that by 2010, almost half of the workforce will fit the traditional definition of “minorities.” University of Southern California Professor Manuel Pastor, a noted expert on demographic change, economic inequality and community empowerment, forecasts that a new majority within higher education will be in place by 2030 with 75 percent of entering college students being “kids of color.”

For these reasons, in 2007, we created the Bridge-Building Leadership Initiative, an ambitious, one-of-a-kind intensive leadership development experience for emerging and seasoned professionals in higher education who integrate community engagement agendas, such as social justice, equity and multiculturalism, with the interests of stakeholders in diverse communities. California Campus Compact is committed to cultivating diverse and inclusive higher education staff and faculty who mirror the cultural diversity of the state of California, serve as role models and mentors to students and serve as leaders on their campuses, within their communities and within the field of community and civic engagement.

Through this network – the first of its kind in the field of civic and community engagement – ten leaders from a diverse array of California’s colleges and universities took part, from January 2007 through May 2009, in intensive overnight retreats, multiple higher education conferences, individualized coaching sessions, personal and professional development planning sessions, monthly conference calls and regional reflection sessions.

Throughout the year and a half, leaders: 
• Strengthened their skills for developing and adapting personal style and behavior to a wide range of constituents for more effective leadership;
• Learned about frameworks and approaches for bridging multiple cultures;
• Exchanged models and tools for implementing and promoting effective civic and community engagement to further social justice;
• Experienced personal transformation through increased self-knowledge; and
• Created individual plans to integrate the initiative’s key concepts throughout their
work and life.

Download an information sheet about the 2007-2009 Bridge-Building Leadership Initiative

California Campus Compact currently is building upon the experiences and lessons of the 2007-2009 Bridge-Building Leadership Initiative to plan the next phase of the initiative.

For more information, please contact Elaine Ikeda.

“My experience as a participant in the Bridge Building Leadership Initiative involves both personal and professional development. BBLI has given me a comprehensive historical perspective of service-learning/civic engagement as a field, specifically in regard to the need to cultivate emerging leaders of color. This concept of ‘cultivation’ is a unique feature of BBLI, in that cultivation for me has included methods of peer support, exploring identity and authentic self and opportunities for dialogue on topics, such as multicontextuality and epistemological diversity. The uniqueness of the BBLI model also lies in the strength of the facilitators and the various opportunities given for face-to-face meetings, community building and deep dialogue and reflection. I have participated in other leadership trainings and developed leadership curriculum, but there was always something missing. BBLI has provided me with a model that identifies and works through the unique challenges that leaders of color face in their various institutions.”

Rowena Tomaneng
Berkeley City College


“California Campus Compact invested in and championed me through the amount of time their staff dedicated to the Bridge-Building Leadership Initiative. The intentional planning of each retreat and time that we spent together was visible and impactful. Each of the retreat weekends was thorough, intense and included activities that allowed me to reflect on my leadership as well as create concrete action steps. California Campus Compact staff were flexible and adaptable. They brought with them a complex understanding of leadership, forcing no one theory or model on to me. They brought their expertise as well as allowed me to share mine. They championed me by introducing me to other leaders in the field and providing opportunities to network and share my skills.”

Minh Dang,  Former Service and Outreach Coordinator
Cal Corps Public Service Center
University of California, Berkeley