Leadership Academy

JustLead Washington’s signature program is the Leadership Academy, an intensive cohort-based experience designed to build a broad network of community leaders who can effectively and collaboratively work toward equity and justice with low-income and marginalized individuals and communities in Washington. Leadership Academy Fellows are drawn from organizations working within the civil, criminal, and juvenile justice systems as well as community-based social justice organizations.

The Program

The Leadership Academy and JustLead aim toward a society where everyone “belongs” within what Professor john a. powell has called the Circle of Human Concern as full members of society, without exception. As such, our curriculum expressly focuses on increasing understanding of the ways in which poverty, systemic racism, and other forms of bias and oppression intersect and create harm, particularly within low-income communities and communities of color.

image showing 8 core leadership competencies explained in text

The Academy’s core curriculum was initially developed in partnership with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and is designed specifically to enhance the adaptive leadership capacity of advocates and organizations working toward equity & justice within Washington State.

Fellows participate in four training retreats and engage in monthly virtual meetings between retreats. Fellows learn and practice several core leadership competencies, such as:

  1. Communicating Strategic Intent (with an emphasis on narrative storytelling)
  2. Enhancing Self-Awareness & Other-Awareness
  3. Achieving Workable Unity Across Difference (with an emphasis on equity and inclusion)
  4. Engaging in Systems and Strategic Thinking
  5. Delivering on Strategic Intent (translating your mission, vision, and values into action)
  6. Developing Leadership Capacity in Others
  7. Fostering Processes of Individual, Organizational, and Community Renewal
  8. Building Competence and Confidence for Anti-Racism and Pro-Equity Work

Cohort Learning

Each year we select cohorts of fellows that reflect the diversity of the many communities served by the justice systems in Washington so that Fellows can draw from each other’s experiences and perspectives and apply their learning to real-world challenges.

The Leadership Academy is NOT about positional authority, but rather, is about a person’s deep commitment to actively engage in powerful leadership behaviors, regardless of their current role. Cohorts include Fellows serving in organizations addressing a wide range of equity and justice issues in Washington such as Alliance for Equal Justice (civil legal aid), criminal justice, and juvenile justice organizations; legal advocacy organizations; public sector agencies; and community-based organizations.

JustLead engages those who already hold influence within the law and justice systems in transformational change work while also building power and capacity within communities and programs that are often inequitably resourced. Cohorts intentionally include Fellows from law and justice and community-based organizations, and typically at least half of our Fellows identify as people of color. About 1/3 work within civil legal aid; 1/3 with other justice system partners (including criminal & juvenile justice, law schools, and pro bono programs); and 1/3 with community-based organizations and other partners. At least 40% of Fellows work outside of King County.


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 … Continue reading Chach Duarte White, Legal Counsel for Youth and Children

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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … Continue reading Kitara Johnson, Excelsior Youth Center

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 … Continue reading Lisa Waldvogel, Northwest Justice Project, Longview

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