Leadership Change at The Opportunity Agenda

March 5, 2019

Insights from The Opportunity Agenda

Dear Friends:

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Leading The Opportunity Agenda over the past 13 years has been the greatest professional adventure of my life. As the organization’s president and co-founder, one of my goals has always been to eventually pass command of a healthy, thriving, and impactful Opportunity Agenda to new leadership. The time for that new leadership has come, and I’ve decided to move on to new adventures at the end of June of this year.

I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve accomplished together. We’ve changed the way the social justice community does business—from elevating the centrality of narrative change, to pioneering open-source communications research, to developing a rising generation of effective communicators, to helping to create the modern field of creative and pop culture change strategies. Along the way, we’ve been part of hundreds of successful communication campaigns that have improved the lives of millions of people and our nation as a whole.

Moving forward, we are scaling up collaborative narrative change efforts on criminal justice reform, economic opportunity, and immigrant human rights. We are expanding our partnerships with artists, entertainers, and cultural influencers to increase our impact. We are supporting diverse, newly-elected policymakers who are committed to social justice. And we are amplifying the voices and leadership of people with lived experience in poverty, our justice system, and the immigrant journey. Our momentum is growing.

The Opportunity Agenda could not be more ready for this new chapter. We have a remarkable staff of brilliant, creative, committed leaders and an experienced and dedicated Steering Committee. We have a growing (and balanced) organizational budget and a diverse range of committed donors and supporters. We have a network of thousands of social justice leaders who look to us for communications guidance, training, and support. We have a community of hundreds of artists, entertainers, and creatives who’ve come through our Creative Change retreats and are inspiring enormous audiences around the country and world. And we are moving (this week!) to new, state-of-the-art offices that will accommodate our growing team and evolving technology into the future.

Our Steering Committee, led by committee chair Madifing Kaba, is already at work on the process of selecting the next president of our organization. He and our Search Committee co-chair, Sara Stuart, will be seeking your ideas and input regarding our future leadership. Fortunately, we are blessed with strong leaders within our organization, and the larger field of social justice communication professionals has grown by leaps and bounds (in part, due to our efforts) since we started out over a decade ago. I am supremely confident that The Opportunity Agenda will reach even loftier heights under a dynamic new president.

In my next adventure, I will be teaching law, communication, and social justice topics as a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School; pursuing fiction and non-fiction writing; and supporting change efforts where my skills may be helpful. I hope that it goes without saying that I will be forever on-call to The Opportunity Agenda, which I’m proud to say is the organization at the cutting edge of narrative change theory, practice, and impact in our country.

As I’ll be at the helm through June, there will be many thank-you's and acknowledgements in the months to come. But I have to begin, as always, with gratitude and appreciation to the other co-founders of our organization: Dr. Brian Smedley, Phoebe Eng, and Bill Lann Lee. I’m forever grateful for their creativity, rigor, friendship, and leap of faith to create a new kind of organization that had never before existed but has proven to be much-needed in the cause of social justice.

New beginnings are always emotional. But my emotions right now are ones of appreciation and excitement for what lies ahead. Thank you for your partnership, trust, and solidarity on the path toward opportunity for all.

Sincerely,

Alan Jenkins
President