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Leadership 18

Sonal Shah, Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, recently had a chance to sit down with members of Leadership 18 and discuss capacity building, scaling good ideas, increasing community engagement, and partnerships.

On January 19, 2011, I had the honor of joining a discussion with the members of Leadership 18.  Leadership 18 is a coalition of CEOs from the largest and most respected non-profits from across the nation.  The coalition was created over thirty years ago to enable strategic leadership and inspire collective action in the field of human development non-profits.

We discussed a variety of issues including building capacity and leadership within organizations, scaling good ideas, increasing engagement and achieving results.  We also discussed this office’s agenda and the White House Council for Community Solutions.  It was an interesting and engaging discussion with some good ideas on how the federal government could benefit from coalition’s experiences in communities across the country and potential opportunities for partnerships.  

The Leadership 18 coalition includes partners such as AARP, American Red Cross, Goodwill, Boys and Girls Club of America, and YMCA.  Collectively, the partners serve millions of people and manage $44 billion in funds.  In 2008, the coalition expanded its mission to include leveraging their collective power to influence policy, service delivery, and public opinion about the most pressing human development issues.

The member organizations of the coalition address a wide range of human and health services.  Priorities for the coalition include Gulf Coast long-term recovery efforts, economic and financial self-sufficiency, and health and human services.  The coalition is great forum for the government to better understand the challenges and opportunities faced by members, many of whom are key service providers in communities across the country.

Leadership 18 organizations have already been great partners on some important Administration initiatives, including the First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s focus on military families.  They have helped effectively harness the power of large national service organizations to deliver necessary services to military families.  Leadership 18 has also provided a united platform to leverage organizations in efforts to support Gulf Coast recovery efforts and fight the childhood obesity epidemic, a cause the First Lady has been focusing on with the “Let’s Move” Campaign.

Human and health services delivery is critically important in helping communities improve the economic security and healthcare for, and provide access, training, and education to children and families.  Leadership 18 has already shown scale is possible.  We hope to continue to work with them and many others in continuing to make programs more effective and impactful.

Sonal Shah is the Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.