The Values Based Leadership Program is a collaborative project between Oakland Rising, the Alameda County Labor Council, and Working Partnerships USA.  It seeks to develop the capacity of grassroots leaders in Oakland and Alameda County to engage in collective, accountable and deeply rooted leadership, to drive values-based change towards greater racial and economic justice.  We concluded our second program in October 2015, graduating a cohort of 26 leaders over the last two years.

THE CRISIS OF ISOLATED LEADERSHIP: Oakland Rising believes that the progressive movement must develop a new, improved brand of leadership in order to win racial and economic justice fights that improve lives and build power. The growth of our movement has always depended upon growing leaders who leverage and steward our greatest strength: collective action. 

Currently, when Oakland’s homegrown leaders move into seats at the helms of institutions – government office, unions, congregations, civic associations, and nonprofits – we often see them pulled into individualistic structures and cultures that isolate them from their bases and allies, losing focus on the values, goals and communities that brought them into leadership, and becoming reactive to political winds and paths of least resistance. Absent deep community roots and a network of support and accountability with peer leaders, no decision-maker – no matter how skilled, passionate or principled – can single-handedly build the innovations and political will needed to make change. 

TIME FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT: These shortcomings are not merely due to a lack of skill; the crisis in public leadership and mutual accountability requires nothing less than a paradigm shift. There is a pressing need for leadership development programs that target not just promising individuals but cohorts of leaders and thereby the fabric of public leadership in our city. We need programs that initiate and steward deep and lasting partnerships for grassroots activists while preparing them to succeed as values-based, goals-driven, accountable public decision-makers.

Oakland Rising and the Alameda Labor Council have formed a strategic partnership that utilizes Working Partnerships’ flagship leadership development program based on the proven model it created and has successfully implemented with partners in several locations across the United States. That model is Values Based Leadership, which drafts the top tier of grassroots activists from community organizations and labor unions for higher levels of public service. This program builds intentional, strategic relationships among key leaders who share a commitment to low-income, immigrant and communities of color, but may otherwise never have recognized their common goals.

COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP: The Values Based Leadership Program trains leaders in a new school of collective leadership. Collective leadership means that leaders recognize that our regions are governed by coalitions – not individuals – and act towards building the progressive governing coalition. They actively participate in the give and take of support and accountability with values-based allies. They seek out opportunities to lift up the work of allies. They reject wedge issues and resource fights that pit progressive constituencies against each other. They act together to limit the effectiveness of opponents and rein in would-be allies who have gotten off track. With the goal of advancing the positional power of the movement as a whole, they strategically step up, step back and encourage others to do the same. In short, institutional leadership roles are treated as continuations of the work of grassroots activists, not departures from it.


We are grateful for the support and guidance of our esteemed HOST COMMITTEE in this endeavor (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Doug Bloch (Teamsters JC 7) 
  • Jazahiel Bonilla (Oakland Planning Commissioner and IUPAT DC 16)
  • District 18 Assemblymember Rob Bonta 
  • District 2 Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillen
  • Jahmese Myres (Oakland Planning Commissioner and EBASE)
  • Arnold Perkins (AC Dept of Public Health) 
  • Dr Steven Pitts (UC Berkeley Labor Center)
  • Rachel Richman (IFPTE Local 21) 

We congratulate and celebrate the 2015 GRADUATING COHORT of Values Based Leaders (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Jack Bryson (SEIU Local 1021)
  • Nicole Lee (Urban Peace Movement)
  • Diego Gonzalez (Office of Asm. Rob Bonta) 
  • Matthew Hettich (TWU Local 502)
  • Brenda Jackson (SEIU 2015)
  • Zachary Norris (Ella Baker Center for Human Rights)
  • Treva Reid (PG&E) 
  • Lateefah Simon (Rosenberg Foundation) 
  • Brandon Sturdivant (Oakland Community Organization) 
  • Monique Tate (CA State Education Association) 
  • Mark Williams (AC Transit Director)
  • Marla Wilson (Resource Media)