Leading the way for the next generation of leaders is President-elect Barack Obama, who has described his formative work experience as a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side in 1985, when he was 23 years old.
This is important for two reasons.
- Our new President developed skills in listening, understanding, problem solving, and relationship-building, by working in a community with deep and systemic challenges. His extraordinary background will serve our nation and our world well.
- President-elect Obama is a role model for young adults. Community organizing is excellent experience whether you ultimately go into business, government, or nonprofits. There is no better way to begin your professional career – by serving your world, and building your personal skills as well as a deep understanding of our communities’ needs and issues, including economic development, healthcare, immigration, education, and conservation.
Last year, a leading national nonprofit with an established history in community organizing launched a model program for the next generation to engage in community organizing. The Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C., founded in 1968, created Generation Change.
Through internships and fellowships, CCC inspires, recruits, trains, and prepares an entire cadre of young adults from diverse backgrounds for participation and leadership in community organizing, including causes such as: expanding rights for immigrants, low-wage workers and people of color; increasing affordable healthcare and housing; fighting predatory lending and home foreclosures; securing services for people with AIDS; challenging discrimination against LGBT people; fighting for environmental justice; and registering new voters.
Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of CCC explains that “we are creating a pipeline for people to enter community-based work. These are dynamic and brilliant individuals, who become part of a national network; they will carry these valuable community organizing skills and experiences with them whatever they do in the future.”
On Tuesday, let’s hail the Community Organizer in Chief.