Reports & Publications

The Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute: A Path to Co-Governance

Annie Dobbs-Kramer, Gioia Strategies Consulting

For over fifteen years, the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) has developed a proven co-governance model and inside/outside strategy that build community power and win meaningful local policy victories. This guidebook describes BCLI’s guiding principle and strategy.

The report breaks down key aspects of this core method for advancing racial and economic justice: navigating the complexity of the government/community binary, the importance of two-way accountability, and the centrality of leadership development in moving leaders from low-income communities of color into decision-making positions within government.

The guidebook also details how the program works, lessons learned, and real-world examples of participants’ challenges and triumphs. It emphasizes the critical role of sustained staff support in ensuring cohort members’ success and the need to proactively and meaningfully address interpersonal biases and structural barriers.

The last section describes opportunities for funders interested in advancing community-driven, equitable public policies across the nation. Recommendations for scaling BCLI’s impact include collaborative funding to resource new regional cohorts and a national network of advocate commissioners who can share policies and best practices.

This guidebook conveys the promise of the BCLI model, going beyond single policy victories to provide the strategies and tools needed to make local government truly serve the people.