JustLead Washington, formerly known as the Washington Equal Justice Community Leadership Academy, is growing a sustainable network of community leaders who can effectively and collaboratively work toward equity and justice for low-income and marginalized individuals and communities throughout Washington State.  JustLead’s capacity-building work focuses on supporting leadership development, racial equity, and collaboration between legal and community-based partners. Its signature program, the Leadership Academy, is a year-long, cohort-based leadership training where Fellows ground their work in shared values and learn competencies that further leadership at the individual, interpersonal, organizational, system, and social justice movement level.

Since its inception in 2013, the Academy has graduated 115 leaders from across Washington who continue to work together to advance social change, and each year approximately 30 new Fellows join our network. JustLead’s additional training and support services have reached over 300 advocates and leaders.


The Leadership Academy was initially proposed in 2010 as a response to a number of changes in the legal services field, including increasingly strained resources, the pending retirement of the founding generation of legal aid leaders, intensifying economic inequality, and a growing awareness about the impact of structural racialization and other systemic oppression. The Washington State Access to Justice Board (“ATJ Board”) and Alliance for Equal Justice (“Alliance”), a network of civil legal aid providers and supporters, recognized that creative, collaborative strategies were necessary to respond to these changes. They also recognized the need to be deliberate and strategic in efforts to develop and support new leaders.

In response, the ATJ Board and Alliance secured the leadership development expertise of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law (“the Shriver Center”) and support from the Legal Foundation of Washington, the Office of Civil Legal Aid, and Seattle University School of Law. In 2013, these partners recruited a first cohort of Leadership Academy Fellows and began to cultivate and educate a diverse network of equity and justice leaders .

The Leadership Academy community has expanded over time, intentionally drawing in a mix of emerging and established leaders from across the justice system as well as from community-based organizations around Washington State, all of whom share the common goal of collaborating and utilizing law & justice tools to end structural oppression such as poverty and racism.

In 2016, Leadership Academy faculty and volunteers began offering additional capacity building services, including leadership training and consulting for organizations as well as ongoing coaching and mentorship for the growing network of Leadership Academy alumni. In response, the Leadership Academy rebranded and incorporated as JustLead Washington, an independent nonprofit organization that continues to work in close partnership with the ATJ Board, the Alliance, and other entities working to further social, racial, and economic justice. For more on the history and impact of the Leadership Academy, check out our History & Impact Video.


The Leadership Academy connects you to a great network of people that are making a difference all over our state. It provides the opportunity to reflect about our work and widen our circle of inclusivity.

Chach Duarte White, Legal Counsel for Youth and Children

With JustLead’s guidance, support, and feedback, I was able take the mountain of information and questions I had down to clear goals and a powerful vision to ground our strategic planning retreat.  Their approach and coaching style of being open and curious while being very clear helped me unpack and articulate where our organization has … Continue reading Eloise Barshes, Chelan-Douglas Volunteer Attorney Services

Eloise Barshes, Chelan-Douglas Volunteer Attorney Services

The Leadership Academy changed the way I look at my community and this great nation. If you care about the future of our collective humanity, JustLead!

Francis Adewale, Spokane City Public Defender’s Office

This has been an amazing opportunity to strengthen my professional skills, learn from the brilliance and experience of my peers, and make connections with organizations and colleagues I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I encourage all people working in the equity and justice community to apply. You’ll develop a framework and analysis of how to work … Continue reading Jay Doran, Statewide Poverty Action Network

Jay Doran, Statewide Poverty Action Network

I was struck by how JustLead had specific examples of historical racism in our community, which, because they created a safe environment for learning, created lots of ‘aha’s’ for the folks participating. Their training was incredibly effective and offered content for those who were new to the subject and those that were more knowledgeable. I left the … Continue reading Kirsten Barron, LAW Advocates Board Member

Kirsten Barron, LAW Advocates Board Member

Working together collaboratively with attorneys that are trying to impact change has really been so beneficial. We are speaking the same language, and we are able to create systemic change not just for agencies, not just for our communities, but across the entire state of Washington.

Kitara Johnson, Excelsior Youth Center

I have met amazing people and have gained valuable tools. I have a deeper understanding of power structure, privilege and implicit bias and ways to effectuate both systems and social change. My participation has already changed the way in which I engage with my community. It is a critical training for any advocate.

Lisa Waldvogel, Northwest Justice Project, Longview

The tools that are coming out of this Academy are amazing and are one of the most powerful ways that we are developing leadership in this community.

Michele Storms, ACLU of Washington