By Leslie Brown


“We are the ones that we have been waiting for.”

June Jordan’s quote captures the heart of community coaching. This innovative coaching method is changing the way that communities work and thrive by using coaching as both a philosophy—a way of looking at life—and strategy—a tool to facilitate a change process.

Throughout 2016 we will feature several Leadership that Works coaches who are on the leading edge of community coaching. Here’s a sneak peek at what they are doing:

Most of the folk that I organize in South Central Los Angeles are low-income, Black and Latino parents and caregivers. Respecting their human dignity is critical in our work. Coaching has helped me be more reflective in order to be more curious, compassionate, and courageous in supporting their personal and leadership development.Having conversations was easy for me, but now I can have the types of conversations that draw on my past struggles in order to provide the space for development towards the types of vision that transforms people, our organizational practices, and ultimately the collective power of the community. —Rob McGowan, Current Coaching for Transformation Student

When I first came to my organization, there were several challenges. Imagine walking into an organization where everywhere you turn people are just feeling very hopeless. After developing my coach’s stance, I started to test it with staff. I began to ask questions in each meeting to help staff to envision a future. What would the environment of your dreams look like? How would you design it? My staff was at first very taken back by the questions—I received a lot of strange looks. After trust was built, staff became much more into it. My passion for coaching became their passion. —Jennifer Glover, Alumni

Coaching has offered me a powerful tool in my work with incarcerated people. It has supported my own ability to “sit in the fire” as a compassionate witness to the hardest stories of abuse and crime I have ever heard. Coaching has also opened my heart to the deep work that these men and women want to do and the belief in the possibility of a more restorative process to address the crimes they have committed. In my facilitation, my coach training helps me to make good use of powerful questions, to connect with the participants and to support their transformation and resilience. —Amanda Berger, Alumni and Faculty

My wife, Emilee, and I are both training to use coaching as a vehicle for other parents, couples, and people of color who have had similar life challenges. Hopefully we can not only be examples, but also be of service by co-creating encouraging and supportive opportunities to build deeper self-awareness. —Rob McGowan, Current Coaching for Transformation Student

We need coaches that we can trust with the anger, the shame, the guilt, the fear that we carry with us, that we hold so precious and so close to our hearts. We need coaches that look like us, that talk like us, that think like us—that are not our exact replicas, but can be the emotional mirrors that we feel safe enough to look into.  —Cynthia Azil Rojas, Alumni

Over the last six months, we’ve implemented a Coaching & Wellness Program at Hospitality House in San Francisco to address employee wellbeing, including one-on-one coaching, wellness workshops, and skill trainings. What we have found is that by adding a much deeper layer of support through coaching, staff are feeling heard and really invested in, creating space for them to begin focusing on their own wellness. Through concepts like the coach’s stand, we hold each other as standing strong in our full potential, which is transformational for staff doing demanding work in a violent environment. Through empowering questions and an accountability framework, staff are gaining concrete tools for how to evolve into who they want to become. —Jenny Collins & Nicky Avant, Alumni

Having spent the past two decades engaged with youth organizing for racial and social justice, I now have the good fortune to coach new, emerging, and more established youth organizers. These younger folks––ranging from just out of their teens into their early thirties––are especially primed for the pathways represented by the coaching approach. —Jeremy Loud

Leadership that Works is committed to providing programs for the next generation of change agents, and our students, alumni and faculty are proving to be some of the world’s most innovative community coaches. To continue raising awareness of this amazing work, Leadership that Works’ community leaders will share their stories throughout the upcoming year.

The next generation of Community Coaches are currently enrolling in the February 2016 Community Coaching Certification program. To learn more about this program and how you can join a community committed to leading real change in communities, organizations and individuals, visit


About the author:

717Leslie Brown is using her unique mix of analytical and creative skills to support new and seasoned next generation leaders—those who are working to design innovative systems of support for communities. She believes that moving beyond traditional leadership approaches will revolutionize the way that people work and thrive. Prior to earning her coaching certification Leslie worked in the nonprofit capacity building sector, supporting projects and teams that promote social justice—she has a background in leadership development, youth development and evaluation.