Open Buffalo kicked off its first annual Emerging Leaders program on Friday, September 11, with an inaugural cohort of 25 leaders and a three-day workshop on leadership, organizing, and action.
Participants learned how to build campaigns for positive social change from the ground up, using their heads, hearts, and hands. Over an intensive, 22-hour weekend gathering, emerging leaders learned how to forge emotional connections to their work by sharing the story of what called them to leadership, how to win the hearts and build the skills of their constituencies one person at a time, and how to plan campaigns that turn community resources into power and results.
Open Buffalo’s Emerging Leaders program brings together rising community organizers from all walks of life, and many participants remarked that the diversity of their cohort aided them in learning how to be more effective leaders.
“I was ushered into a room that had white, brown, and black men and women from all over the city,” reported participant Samantha Nephew. “They were Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and/or unbelieving. We had those who grew up in the suburbs, outside of Western New York, or were born and bred Buffalo Public School children. Some of us were as young as 25 and [some] as experienced as having 20-plus years as a union rep. I’ve been a part of a lot of leadership trainings, but this one felt more balanced than any other I’ve been through before.”
This intensive opening weekend lays the foundation for a three-month leadership training school, which will train participants in skills as diverse as research, relationship building, field work, and how to integrate the arts into social justice work. If you have questions about the program, or would like to be informed when applications open for the second class, please contact Director of Civic Capacity Nate Gulley at firstname.lastname@example.org.