September 29, 2022
Introducing Our Shared Leadership ModelBy Racquel Asante, Katherine Kim, and Jessica Meyerson
The Educopia Institute is excited to announce effective October 1, 2022 Racquel Asante, Katherine Kim, and Jessica Meyerson will serve Educopia Institute as co-directors.
Since publishing two blog posts on Educopia’s organizational transition in July (Embracing Change and Shaping Change), staff members Racquel Asante, Katherine Kim, and Jessica Meyerson submitted a proposal to the Board for a co-director executive leadership model that outlined key organizational benefits of co-director leadership models including organizational resilience, values alignment, and risk management. The proposal addressed the division of Executive Director/CEO responsibilities among co-directors, internal governance between co-directors and Board, communications and reporting structure, succession planning, decision making, assessment, and organizational possibilities that the model hopes to enable.
The proposal came at a time when the Board was thinking deeply about its governance role and its collaborative relationship with the Educopia staff. Board president Kathleen Fitzpatrick notes that “during the course of our development work it became clear to us that the time was right to think differently about the nature of leadership for the organization, to move away from reliance on a single visionary executive director and toward a shared leadership model that could both better manifest Educopia’s values and make the organization more resilient.”
In conjunction with the development of the co-director proposal to the Board, members of the Board and Staff completed a series of interviews with representatives from organizations that are currently practicing a co-director model of executive leadership including RVC, ProInspire, Kindred Connections Society, and Change Elemental. We want to extend our sincerest appreciation to all of the organizations that took the time to respond to our email invitations. The purpose of these interviews was to develop a common frame of reference among Board and Staff for different models of shared leadership in practice – we wanted to better understand how each organization approached the following aspects of co-director leadership: conditions that have to be in place to move to shared leadership, navigating pitfalls, decision making, approaches to disagreement and conflict among co-directors, compliance and regulatory gotchas, and markers of success for shared leadership.
“Meeting with organizations who have developed a shared-leadership model was both energizing and eye opening,” said Nancy Adams, Program Assistant at Educopia. “While there are differences, what struck me most from the interviews were the similarities among the different organizations, especially the emphasis on relationship building (not just among leadership, but with all staff, the board, and other stakeholders) and on the willingness to work through things. These are already core values for Educopia.”
The intention is to instantiate a co-director model as one step towards strengthening strategic thinking, thought leadership, and decision-making capacity across the entire team, to enable “…more expansive manifestations of shared leadership, ones in which power is cultivated and shared in ways that prefigure the future we envision.”[1,2] The co-directors see as one of our core responsibilities the task of providing the necessary resources and structural support for more of the staff to be recognized in leadership roles internally as well as externally—making Educopia more resilient overall.
As co-directors, Racquel, Katherine, and Jessica believe that the work of making Educopia’s co-director leadership model synonymous with efficacy and resilience is a matter of specificity, clarity, and transparency. We have made a public commitment to keep our constituents and stakeholders informed, to continue a practice of sharing lessons and processes publicly. Given the spectrum of shared leadership , and the variability of co-directorship models more specifically, the only way for people to understand is for us to tell them what our model is and what we are learning through implementation. As we reaffirm our commitment to “transition as the work”, we also reaffirm our commitment to centering relationships, shared accountability, and collaborative power.
If you would like to get in contact with the shared leadership team, please email email@example.com.
 Aja Couchois Duncan, Mark Leach, Elissa Sloan Perry, and Natasha Winegar, “Butterflies, Pads, and Pods: Interdependent Leadership for the World We Want,” Change Elemental, October 2021, https://changeelemental.org/resources/butterflies-pads-and-pods/. From Change Elemental: “Shifting to a co-directorship model cannot by itself advance more expansive manifestations of shared leadership, ones in which power is cultivated and shared in ways that prefigure the future we envision. Coming together as a focused team of staff and governance team representatives, we acknowledged that something different was needed, something that could further distribution of leadership, power, and responsibility, and something that could support Change Elemental in advancing its core strategies as well as increase our capacity to advance equitable systems change in the field more broadly.”
 Simon Mont, “The Future of Nonprofit Leadership,” Nonprofit Quarterly, March 2017, https://nonprofitquarterly.org/future-nonprofit-leadership/. “When we expect a single leader (or small group of “leaders”) to create a system that will define and coordinate all individuals’ relationship to the organization by assigning roles and titles, we ignore the potential of every member to decide for themselves how to use the personal and interpersonal resources at their disposal to support the organization. We inhibit the dynamic, innovative, and agile responses that empowered people are capable of and choose static control and repetition instead.”
 Michael Allison, Susan Misra, and Elissa Perry, “Doing More with More: Putting Shared Leadership into Practice,” Nonprofit Quarterly, June 2018, https://nonprofitquarterly.org/doing-more-with-more-putting- shared-leadership-into-practice/.