Applications Open for District 11 Leadership Academy

Al and Mary Harris with their children at the 2017 NEN Awards. Photo by NEN

A new leadership academy will teach aspiring community leaders how to advocate for change, empowered by a knowledge of how cities work.

The Neighborhood Empowerment Network, a city department that prepares neighborhoods to respond to natural disasters by educating and empowering residents, has launched a neighborhood leadership academy for District 11 residents in partnership with Supervisor Ahsha Safai and Coro, a nonprofit that teaches leadership skills.

NEN is seeking up to 20 residents for a program that builds knowledge, skills and confidence in potential neighborhood leaders for the District 11 Leadership Academy.

The District 11 program is part of the NEN Leadership Academy, a citywide program meant to develop a new batch of neighborhood leaders with knowledge of city programs.

In District 11 the recent death of two neighborhood activists –– May Wong and Vanessa Wallace –– and ongoing changes in the district, highlight the need for a new batch of leaders.

“As many of you know, D11 is still undergoing a rounds of changes today and we need to expand the number of informed residents who have the capacity to bring their community together, identify their priorities and engage agencies and institutions on their behalf,” Safai states on NEN’s website.

The program will include training sessions, opportunities to interview city department leaders and elected officials, and an opportunity to propose a solution for a neighborhood problem.

With knowledge of the city works, participants will be able to advocate for change and, if a disaster strikes, help rebuild their neighborhoods.

Although there have been other leadership academies run by nonprofits in the past, Daniel Homsey, the director of NEN, said this is the first free, city-run leadership academy of its kind.

The NEN Leadership Academy was inspired by a 2007 Harvard School of Government study of the response to Hurricane Katrina which concluded that developing community leaders should be a priority for cities preparing for disasters.

“[After Katrina,] people were so disenfranchised that they didn’t know how to work with the government to rebuild,” Homsey said. “We need increase the number of neighborhood leaders who understand how the city systems work.”

To create the Leadership Academy, NEN consulted with 17 neighborhood leaders from eight neighborhoods to create a framework for the lesson plans.

“Participants in the program should live in District 11 and/or have a proven commitment to the wellbeing of the community,” according to NEN’s website.

The nine training sessions will take place between Feb. 22 and May 16.

Applications for the program opened on Nov. 15 and are open until Jan. 1, and will be reviewed by NEN, CORO and a group of District 11 leaders. The winners will be announced on Feb. 1.

Apply for the District 11 Leadership Academy here.

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