The Power of Partnership

October 21st, 2010

A couple of months ago, I got a call from Peter Murray, the President of Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL), one of Rockwood’s organizational partners. He was cooking up an idea to create a slate of progressive organizations to collectively participate in the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project, an online contest where people vote for the best non-profit organization or idea. He asked if we wanted to join in.

I have to admit that I was a bit cynical. Truthfully, I was very cynical.  But a small part of me whispered: “Why not?  What have we got to lose?” And without thinking about it too much, I told Peter that sure, we were willing. I then handed the project off to Liz Bohm, our Communications and Development Manager, and asked her to keep me posted.

Over the next several weeks, Brandon Silverman (also at CPL) masterminded a complex process, involving organizing a number of progressive non-profits to be voted on as one slate and guiding them all through the process of application, promotion, voting, tracking and so on. The slate was designed to improve our collective chances for getting the most votes, rather than each trying to get votes on our own.

The slate included:
•    Wellstone Action Education Fund
•    Inner City Law Center
•    Keystone Progress
•    Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio
•    Polaris Project
•    State Voices
•    Midwest Academy
•    Fuse Washington
•    PLAN Nevada
•    The SHARE Food Program
•    Policy Matters Ohio
•    League of Young Voters Education Fund
•    United States Student Association 

Many emails ensued. Reminders were sent. People voted. Again and again, everyday for a month. Some texted, some went online, others voted through Facebook. Every single day. For a month.

I watched the progress out of the corner of my eye (my inner cynic was still quite awake). And as the month progressed, I noticed that our name, along with the names of the other organizations, was popping up to the top ten now and again. Maybe we had a chance. Maybe this wasn’t such a silly idea after all.

The winners were to be announced at 12:01am October 1. I woke up that morning and thought I’d take a quick look to see. And… damn! We won. As did 13 other organizations on the slate who are also in line to receive funding.

50,000 unanticipated dollars. Unbelievable!

I tell this story, not because I’m gloating about winning, or even about the money. I tell it because I am so clear that we could never have done this on our own. Nor could any of the other organizations on the slate. Collectively we are up for $550,000 – over half a million dollars to support causes that we care about. None of us could have done this alone – it required a collective sharing of resources, effort and commitment. Partnership.

Huge kudos to CPL, for taking leadership in making this happen. Incidentally, they didn’t win in their category, but the rest of us are sending them part of what we won, so that CPL wins too. Everyone benefits.

The story isn’t without some challenges - CPL took some hits from a couple of organizations who went to the media saying that a collective effort wasn’t “fair.” Rockwood got a few emails questioning the wisdom of this fund raising tactic, or of taking money from Pepsi, to which we are listening.

But I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my jaded self – that I allowed Rockwood to take a risk. In my role, I could easily have shot down the idea, and we would really have lost out. A very good lesson for me.

I’ve begun to think about partnership in a new and real way. These days I ask “who might want to join us for this?” and “How can we be helpful to this effort?”  It’s not just lip service – we’ve had a good lesson on what can happen with concerted collective effort.

So thanks to all of you who voted. Every day for a month. It made a big difference to us. And to 13 other organizations. 

Thank you for your partnership.

From my heart to yours,

October 2010

2010 / 2011 Media, Communications and Information Policy Fellows Announced

Launched in 2006 with a grant from the Ford Foundation, the Rockwood Fellowship in Media, Communications and Information Policy was created to support media activists, policy advocates, media makers and scholars to ensure an open and democratic media environment. The goal of the Fellowship is to develop strong leadership in and collaboration among key leaders working in the media reform policy sector. The strategy is to convene and train senior representatives from national and state advocacy organizations, academic and nonprofit research institutions, “alternative” media content producers and media justice organizations to create partnerships within and across these approaches to policy reform.

Currently in the fourth year, the Media Fellowship program has so far produced over 80 Media Reform leaders.

With additional support from the Ford Foundation, the 2010-2011 program will provide 15 emerging national leaders specifically engaged in media access and openness policy issues with Rockwood leadership and collaboration trainings. It will also convene these leaders with past Media Reform Fellow alumni to deepen partnerships and collaboration in the field.

We are pleased to welcome the 2010-2011 Media Reform Fellows:

Parul Desai, Policy Counsel,
Consumers Union
Brandy Doyle, Policy Director,
Prometheus Radio Project
Garlin Gilchrist II, Director of New Media,
Center for Community Change
Kamilla Kovacs, Communications and Development Director, Media Access Project
Benjamin Lennett, Senior Policy Analyst,
New America Foundation
Carlos Pareja, Training and Policy Director,
People’s Production House
Misty Perez Truedson, Associate Outreach Director,
Free Press
Brooke Rae-Hunter, Chief Operating Officer,
Public Knowledge
Steven Renderos, Media Justice Program Director,
Main Street Project
Lissa Rosenthal, Executive Director,
Future of Music Coalition
Brittny Saunders, Senior Advocate,
The Center for Social Inclusion
Aparna Sridhar, Policy Counsel,
Free Press
Josh Stearns, Associate Program Director,
Free Press
Mark Surman, Executive Director,
Mozilla Foundation
Chancellar Williams, Advocacy Manager,
Media and Democracy Coalition

Full bios of these remarkable media leaders are available to read here.

For more information, please contact Sharon Price, Fellowship Manager at

Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading
from the Heart

Through a tapestry of over 30 voices and stories, including Rockwood’s president Akaya Windwood, Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart illuminates how women and many men are redefining the leadership landscape across a diversity of perspectives, generations and ethnicities. Contributors include Alice Walker, Rachel Naomi Remen, Eve Ensler, Terry Tempest Williams and many more.

In Gloria Steinam’s words, “Nina Simons’ Moonrise brings together thirty wise essays on transforming the old ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ division into a human style of leadership. These are writers and activists who know how to link rather than rank, and so can help each of us to learn as well as to lead.”

Also, check out Common Ground Magazine's piece, “Women Reimaging the World,” which excerpts Moonrise conversations by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., Joanna Macy, Nina Simons, Alice Walker and our own Akaya Windwood.

Read on and lead on.

Go Deeper, Grow Stronger

Advanced Art of Leadership: Leadership in Action,
Northern California
When: March 28-31, 2011
Where: Westerbeke Ranch, Sonoma, CA
Deadline to Apply: Feb 14, 2011

Designed specifically for graduates of Art of Leadership, this is a unique opportunity to reconnect with your vision, purpose and fellow Art of Leadership alumnae/i.

Our next Advanced Art of Leadership: Leadership In Action takes place March 28-31, 2011 in Sonoma, CA. Participants will delve deeper into their professional growth and learn how to integrate powerful tools into the day-to-day operations of their organizations and networks.

This training is especially targeted towards senior staff, management teams, executive directors and senior leaders of social justice networks and coalitions.

If you've already experienced Art of Leadership, you know what amazing things can happen for you and your organization when you join forces with other visionary leaders in a rich learning environment--now is the time to make time for this rich learning opportunity. Apply today.

Also view our complete Schedule of Trainings to learn about other ways you and your organization can clarify vision and move more effectively toward positive
change in 2011.

Working Across Generations: The Future of Nonprofit Leadership

Created by the Building Movement ProjectWorking Across Generations: The Future of Nonprofit Leadership takes a thorough look at generational shifts in the nonprofit sector. The book is full of practical advice on how to approach generational changes in leadership so that the contributions of long-time leaders are valued, new and younger leaders' talent is recognized, and groups are better prepared to work across generational divides.

This book examines the meaning of leadership transfer for individuals, their organizations, and the field; reports on how older and younger social change leaders are preparing (or not preparing) for these changes; and recommends how these transitions can take place in ways that move social sector work forward.

Wondering what you can do now to work with Gen X and Y leaders? Check out their "Leadership Top Five" for thoughtful, useful suggestions!