The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the largest U.S. philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving health and healthcare, pursues a number of strategies to ensure that the nation has a well-trained healthcare workforce. Several years ago, it identified the need to increase the leadership capacity of health-related nonprofits at the community level.
“The nonprofit level is where a lot of change happens,” says Sallie George, a program officer with the Princeton, NJ-based Foundation.
The Foundation, George says, wanted a customized program that would target early- to mid-career emerging leaders of nonprofits and government agencies, who would be able to help support their organizations and communities in efforts to improve health and healthcare in vulnerable communities across the United States.
RWJF turned to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) to design and manage a new program, Ladder to Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Community Healthcare Leaders.
CCL developed the 16-month leadership development curriculum for 219 professionals from a diverse group of health and healthcare nonprofits. Cohorts of up to 30 Fellows each were selected in communities from across the U.S.: Albuquerque, NM; Birmingham, AL; Central New York; Cleveland, OH; Eastern North Carolina; Kansas City Metro area; Newark, NJ; and Portland, OR.
The comprehensive program included proven methods for individual development, as well as cutting-edge approaches to accelerating leadership. It focused on developing leadership skills related to bringing about organizational change; adapting innovations from other fields; creating more client-focused services; and working across internal and external organizational boundaries. The program promoted cross-organization collaboration and encouraged innovation and community visibility to more effectively tackle health and healthcare issues.
Ladder to Leadership generated results that are real, enduring and powerful, according to surveys of program participants and their colleagues. Participants experienced improvements in leadership skills and behaviors. They, as well as peers and supervisors, report positive contributions to their nonprofit organizations and to their communities. These outcomes were observed immediately after the program and a year after program completion.
“There is evidence,” George says, “that we are strengthening the opportunity of these communities to be healthier places.”
Learn more about the RWJF program and its impact: “Ladder to Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Community Healthcare Leaders.”