America has never needed more from civil society. That’s because our country is being rocked by a health pandemic, an age-old racism pandemic, economic upheaval, sweeping cuts in safety-net programs, and the increasing political vitriol that’s killing efforts to address these daunting challenges. We feel like we’re in the midst of the 1918 flu pandemic, the Civil Rights/Vietnam era, and the Great Recession all at the same time! If the virus continues to surge and the restart of the economy sputters…

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I grew up in an immigrant family of blue-collar workers in Ohio and coal miners in Pennsylvania. My family experienced plenty of anti-immigrant bigotry—and, of course, we saw Black families getting far worse treatment. Even so, I grew up in a household with deep faith in America. If you were from our part of town and of our ethnicity, the ladder of upward mobility wasn’t quite as safe or sturdy as the ladder for “better” families from the communities where my mom cleaned houses. But at least we had a chance to…

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Sam Cooke composed “A Change Is Gonna Come” in 1963, shortly after “I Have a Dream,” the Birmingham church bombings, and his own imprisonment for “disturbing the peace” after he was refused a room at a Holiday Inn because of his race. The song is considered one of the greatest of all time because of the way it captured the hope and despair of the Civil Rights Movement.

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This month, we’ll get right to practical advice for social-sector leaders trying to captain ships through the dark, stormy seas of this pandemic. We’re by no means leadership experts. But Mario is a longtime student of crisis leadership and has been forced to navigate—as a CEO, director, advisor, investor, and donor—through many different periods of turmoil. Sometimes he was successful. Sometimes he screwed up. Here’s what he learned from both.

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The wonderful Cheryl Collins told us, with the firm but loving tone she used in her schoolteacher days, that we must use this platform to share both brutal honesty and credible hope. So that’s what we’re going to try to do.

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Let’s be clear: The Coronavirus pandemic is deadly serious, and we all need to observe the CDC’s latest guidelines for keeping ourselves and others safe. There’s good reason that Lowell’s home state (WA) and Mario’s (OH) are on virtual lockdown, and we have great respect for Governors Jay Inslee (D) and Mike DeWine (R) for making these calls. These two elected officials are demonstrating precisely what courageous, adaptive leadership looks like!

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When we talk about organization building, we know some people think we sound like one of those podcasts designed to put you to sleep. But this past week Lowell got an epic lesson in how organization building can have life-and-death importance for millions of people.

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Well before the tsunami election of 2016, we were reading, writing, and speaking about the seismic shifts rocking and rending American society—from the technologies that are fundamentally altering the nature of work to the wealth and income inequality that is cleaving us into factions with completely different financial prospects. But neither of us are economists. And we’re sure as hell not Nobel Prize winners. That’s why we were eager to read Good Economics for Hard Times, the new book by…

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In last month’s update, we mentioned that we were looking forward to reading Ford Foundation President Darren Walker’s new book, From Generosity to Justice: A New Gospel of Wealth. We both chose to listen to the audio version while we got some much-needed holiday exercise. The original “Gospel of Wealth,” penned by Andrew Carnegie in 1889, implored…

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Wouldn’t you like a good way to take a deep look into your organization—to discover how you’re doing, identify ways to get better, and create open introspection that helps people learn and improve? If so, please take a look at the Performance Practice, a resource from the Leap Ambassadors Community. According to Ingvild Bjornvold, who oversees the continuous-improvement process for the Performance Practice, “I doubt there’s a nonprofit out there that…

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