Developing Future Leaders at the National Urban League

Duke CE is proud to work with the National Urban League, a not-for-profit organization committed to talent management as part of its mission to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.  The National Urban League began Project Lead in order to develop talented individuals within the organization and create a pipeline of leaders for the future.  The League then partnered with Duke CE to develop a leadership model, self-assessment tools and development programs for a range of leaders in the National Urban League Community.

In 2008 the Executive Leadership Development Track debuted for affiliate CEOs with the focus of sharpening executive skills—ranging from long-range strategic planning and prioritization to nuts and bolts sessions on cultivating donors and social media outreach.  As part of the program participating CEOs discover how to engage and inspire others to work together toward a common goal in the “Pit-Crew Experience,“  during which participants must change the tires on a real race car and quickly get the car out of the pit.  As one participant said, “We had to identify who was best to do different jobs… it was a great example of seeing natural leadership emerge.”

In 2010 the Emerging Leaders Program was introduced for high potentials within the League and leaders of other not-for-profit organizations in the communities served by League Affiliates.  The year-long program includes four face-to-face sessions in which participants focus on key content and skills in support of the League’s competency model such as Strategy, Difficult Conversations and Leadership.  At one session participants don Duke jerseys and play basketball, coached by Duke Basketball staff, to viscerally experience and learn the value of clear communication, coaching and teamwork.  Additionally, the program features individual leadership coaching sessions, meetings with League executives and legislative leaders on Capitol Hill, and fundraising webinars.  In September of 2010, Adrienne Cochrane became the first graduate of the inaugural Emerging Leaders program to advance to a CEO role and since the program’s inception other graduates have moved into prominent roles within League Affiliates, such as CFO or Vice President.

The National Urban League understands that its people are fundamental to fulfilling the organization’s mission.  “It is vitally important for us to continue to develop a pipeline of talented individuals with the training, skills, and abilities to fill openings now and in the future,” says Wanda Jackson the Senior Vice President and Chief Talent Officer, and the programs co-created with Duke CE continue to help the League strengthen that pipeline.  In October 2012, the League will host both the Executive Leadership Series and the Emerging Leaders Program in Atlanta.