Community Leadership and Community-Based Evaluation

by Ariel Kaufman

Community collaboration is an iterative, organic process. Many times decisions that affect community wellness, economic vitality and cultural diversity of a community occur without direct involvement of those affected.  South Madison neighborhoods and community organizations are working to broaden and deepen the level of engagement of those stake-holders.  Students, residents, and organizations can develop leader capacities and relational leadership to ensure families and communities have a voice in their own destiny.  In this process, students and institutions also learn from the cultural histories and community assets of South Madison.

Two courses in the Community and Nonprofit Leadership major were offered to help students develop relational leadership skills.  Following the CUE Pilot Year,  Dr. Margaret Nellis and I collaboratively facilitated Inter-HE 560: Community Leadership in fall 2011 and Inter-HE 570: Community-Based Research and Evaluation in spring 2012.  A total of seven projects in 2011-2012 were designed with community-based organizations in the South Metropolitan Planning Council’s area.  All used events and activities to build relational leadership.  These courses initiated inquiry across projects to explore: how do community practitioners use events to develop and deepen engagement?  How can community practitioners use events to help develop collaborative leadership?  More details about each community project will be presented in the next issue of CUE Newsletter.

Having facilitated these courses and different projects, we were able to refine our model in promoting student learning and community social change.  In collaboration with community partners, we developed four effective strategies to identify priorities, communicate regularly, collect relevant information, and deliver usable results (Figure 3). We also learned language matters (Figure 4) to our community partners, and so we worked to develop and use language that resonated more deeply with them to increase the effectiveness of the partnership. ■

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