As a democratic, people-empowered movement, all the work of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) is done through convenings, collective impact groups, and action teams. Being together is how we build social capital and communal power. Above all else, our universal goal is to build a just and healthy society that works equally well for everyone.

We reached out to Executive Director Marcus G. Owens to get his thoughts on the changes happening at AALF and the work we’re doing to make a difference in the Black community.

Owens: I’m excited about launching AALF Workstreams in March. What we’ve heard over the past year has been a desire to reignite the work of the Workgroups of AALF’s past. After taking a deep dive into what worked in the past and how we should approach Collective Impact moving forward, we developed a process that would be both sustainable for the network and the organization and is centered in an asset-based approach called Black-Centered Design (BCD). Taking cues from the Human-Centered Design process we created a phased approach that would recognize the problems we faced as layered and dynamic and require prioritization and focus. We also needed to take an approach that would utilize the strengths of the AALF network of contributors and provided spaces for input and connection.

In the first phase, we contextualized the problems our community faced and put concise definition to the root causes and what is needed in order to solve these problems. In the second phase we identified the leaders and institutions that were already on the ground creating solutions through a Community Harvest event in January. These institutions shared with us opportunities to build capacity, challenge systems, increase access to resources and evolve the ecosystem culture to strategize and accelerate their work, leading to a workplan. The workplan is intended to be a vivid framework of the strategies, partners, and activities that are tangible for our network to plug into. We are now entering the third phase, which we are ready to activate with AALF network contributors to engage in meaningful activities over the next 4-6 months.

Interested in helping our community thrive and learning more about our Workstreams? AALF will be hosting a Collective Impact Community Open House at the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) in Minneapolis to introduce participants to Workstream projects and encourage Black thought leaders, builders, ambassadors, and influencers to sign up for those that align with their interests and skill set! The open house will be held Thursday, April 16 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., 2001 Plymouth Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55411. RSVP today.