Louisiana Effective Leadership Program (LaELP)

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita unmasked many longstanding and deeply vexing flaws in the economic, social, and political landscapes it devastated, none more so than those of Louisiana. In many respects, Louisiana’s full recovery will depend on its ability to address the leadership deficit – specifically the want of a sustained commitment to the development of leaders committed to applying moral values to decision-making in the nonprofit, private and public sectors.

In response to this challenge, the Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke University in partnership with the College of Business at Southern University (Baton Rouge) has built a program which each year recruits, trains and provides reinforcing support for successive 20-25 member classes of Fellows (45 in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 classes). These are women and men who are nominated by senior leaders in the business, non-profit and public sectors across the State and are offered Fellowships based on careful and competitive review of their applications. Fellows selected are predominantly but not exclusively African-American, mid-career leaders who are on fast tracks to senior positions in their fields. They must demonstrate a sincere interest in understanding and applying universal moral values to their lives and work and who are committed to advancing social justice.

The program – an intensive one-year, in-service experience – enhances the capacity of Fellows to serve others, strengthen their organizations, meet the needs of their constituencies, identify best practices of public accountability and, above all, contribute to the common good, with particular emphasis on empowering low-income, historically disadvantaged communities. Central to the program’s design is training in those “ways of being” that characterize effective, rather than merely efficient, leadership – doing the right things, not just doing things right.

Adapted from the Duke Center’s highly successful Emerging Leaders Program (2002-2008), which trained 135 Southern African and American rising leaders, the program focuses on five key leadership themes: The Role of Culture and Context; Ethics and Accountability; The Necessity for Personal Renewal; Effective and Ethical Communications and Public Policy Advocacy; and The Critical Role of Networking. The instructional curriculum is rigorous and includes: pre-course readings on servant leadership history and theory; a 6.5 day opening retreat, a 2.5 day mid-year retreat and a 4.5 day “reunion” retreat; planning public advocacy projects; taking successive leadership self-assessments; tying the results of those assessments into year-long personal executive coaching provided by the program; and development of a functioning alumni association to reinforce learning in years after the program.

The program’s faculty is led by its founder Ambassador James A. Joseph, a native of Opelousas, Louisiana and a graduate of Southern and Yale Universities. His professional career includes senior leadership positions in all three sectors. He has served as a Vice President at Cummins Engine Company and President of the Cummins Foundation, as CEO of the national Council on Foundations, as Under Secretary of the Interior (in the Carter Administration) and as American Ambassador to South Africa (1996-2000). Ambassador Joseph founded the Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke (and its counterpart at the University of Cape Town) and serves presently as Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Studies. He chairs the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation established by Governor Kathleen Blanco.