RCLA's Expertise in Social Change Leadership
Understanding and supporting social change leadership has been the cornerstone of the Research Center for Leadership in Action's work for more than seven years, including conducting research with award-winning nonprofits across the United States and offering ongoing leadership development and capacity-building for grassroots nonprofits in New York City.
This work with social change organizations is an essential part of the Center's work to expand the discourse about leadership from a focus on individual “heroic” leaders to a more collective, relational and inclusive view that recognizes the important contributions individuals at all levels can make to leadership as a collective achievement.
Our research shows that social change organizations represent a rich and essential resource for civil society and enact profound reforms to broken systems and structures.
This collective work toward the common good reflects the human spirit at its best and leadership that is essential to guarantee, sustain and invigorate democracy.
The Center’s research focuses on the specific leadership practices that grassroots nonprofits employ to build leadership capital and transform society. This leadership capital does not depend on material wealth but on the accumulated stock of wisdom and know-how present in their communities. It is the collective force that comes from years of recognizing abundant possibilities where others see only scarcity. It also comes from figuring out how to deal with tough social issues – such as inadequate services, unjust policies, or a lack of responsiveness to community needs – and making incremental changes that lead to momentous wins.
RCLA's Global Work
RCLA works with leading global institutions at the forefront of efforts to foster civic engagement, create forums for dialogue, establish cross-sector collaborations, and empower citizens to become agents for change.
- A three-year evaluation of the Center for Microfinance Leadership run by Women's World Banking in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Started in response to rapid growth and changes in the microfinance industry, from a decrease in the number of women staff members at microfinance providers to increasing commercialization, the Center aims to bring the best of leadership development and gender diversity initiatives to the microfinance sector through training, coaching, learning exchanges and support for organizational change.
- Technical assistance and training with educators at the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia in Spain to foster efforts that help students act as global citizens. Participants have focused on capitalizing on collaborations between the university, a vibrant nongovernmental sector and public schools to develop educational and experiential practices that contribute to a sense of global citizenship in students.
- A comparative research initiative with the AVINA Foundation to identify, examine and support the dynamics of successful multi-sector collaboration in Brazil and Colombia.
- An evaluation of the Institute of International Education West Coast Center's Leadership Development for Mobilizing Reproductive Health Program in Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines. RCLA collaborated with the IIE West Coast Center and the Packard Foundation to conduct a participatory evaluation that examined and documented the impact of the leadership program on improving health outcomes for vulnerable people.
Learning at a Top-Ranked School in a Global Network University
US News and World Report has ranked New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in the top ten schools nationally for public affairs. Taught by preeminent faculty in a variety of disciplines, NYU Wagner courses prepare individuals to succeed in a global environment that demands role flexibility, innovation and the dexterity to perform effectively in rapidly changing circumstances.
Learning at New York University offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the best of the New York City and to study leadership from a global perspective. NYU leads all US universities in students studying abroad; more than 40 percent of undergraduates study abroad, and each year the number increases. In addition, NYU has study sites in many of the world’s greatest cities – from Madrid to Shanghai, Tel Aviv to Buenos Aires. The University is also leading the way for a new educational paradigm with NYU Abu Dhabi, a portal campus in an international hub for art and culture.
As the leadership center at NYU Wagner, the Research Center for Leadership in Action draws on these rich intellectual and cultural resources to develop knowledge and capacity for leadership to transform society.
Our programs focus on the specific context and culture in which leaders work, while asking ambitious questions with global relevance. The Center's approaches to leadership emphasizes that today's tough social issues require working together across sectors, borders and boundaries to find solutions that advance the common good.