Community Development Leadership: Early Visionaries Inspire Tomorrow’s Success


Robert Zdenek and Dee Walsh

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November 12, 2019

The community development movement has been around for the past six decades, and its launch can be credited to the early visionaries who saw the need to address challenges facing low-wealth, under-resourced communities. These leaders learned by doing, inspired by a commitment to social justice and human rights. To better understand this history, and share the knowledge gained from these leaders’ experiences, this paper draws on interviews with 12 diverse long-time leaders in community development and identifies a number of common themes for what inspired and drove them. It provides a framework to describe four phases of leadership and makes recommendations for current and future community development leaders