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Leadership Development Initiative

Equipping People to Impact Organizations

The Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) is a signature 12-month program of Community Building Initiative (CBI) supports non-profit board members and senior staff of non-profit, public and for-profit organizations in the leadership role they and their organizations play in building a more inclusive and equitable Charlotte-Mecklenburg. LDI develops, connects and guides diverse groups of leaders (28 – 32 per class) in increasing their awareness of and ability to influence for inclusion and equity. LDI's long-term goal is to increase participating organizations' commitment to and capacity for promoting access, inclusion and equity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This includes addressing aspects such as race, ethnicity, gender socio-economics, religion, sexual orientation and others.


LDI focuses on leadership for both individuals and organizations. LDI provides a deep journey in personal development, but it is also an organizational change program. Individuals are expected to apply the skills gained in LDI to strengthen the organization they represent.

Becoming an “LDI organization” means making a commitment to support CBI’s mission, work toward the goals of LDI and identify participants over a period of years. These LDI graduates, in turn, become a key resource for each other, their organization(s) and for CBI as part of a network of “influencers.”

Who's involved

LDI was launched in 2001 when CBI’s leadership team piloted the model. Since that time CBI has offered 14 additional classes of LDI and has graduated almost 400 individuals who represented approximately 32 key community organizations and institutions. Classes may include up to two organizations new to LDI.

The success of LDI requires a diverse group of participants, including diversity across race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, perspective, background, employment and time in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Organizations are asked to send two participants at a time, optimally a multi-racial/gender pair. The current demographic mix of LDI breaks down as follows:

CBI chart LDI-Demographics rev


LDI integrates an experiential learning process with content that includes an in-depth understanding of group dynamics, coaching and peer feedback, systemic change, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community and what it means to "influence."

While at its heart LDI is an organizational change program, it does provide a journey in personal development. Individuals are expected to apply this self-development to strengthen the organization they represent. An organization becomes an LDI organization by making a commitment to work toward the goals of LDI and to send participants to LDI over a period of years. These LDI graduates – individually and collectively - become a key resource to the organization.

LDI 1Becoming an LDI organization means that ongoing support and consultation is offered in building capacity to demonstrate inclusion and equity. Organizations are asked to send two participants at a time, optimally a multi-racial/multi-ethnic pair. CBI executes a Memorandum of Understanding with each participating organization in order to clarify expectations and to formalize the relationship it has with each LDI organization.

The success of LDI requires a diverse group of participants, including diversity across race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, time in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, employment, background and perspective. LDI employs multiple methodologies in order to achieve outcomes at three levels:

  • PERSONAL: Individual leaders with increased awareness, skill and a network of resources and support.
  • ORGANIZATIONAL: Organizations better able to develop programs, practices and strategies for inclusion and both internally and externally with their respective client/customer base or constituencies.
  • COMMUNITY: Stronger network of individuals and organizations with commitment and capacity for inclusion and equity.

In addition, CBI offers a menu of options for follow-up support to LDI organizations that want to leverage their “critical mass” of LDI participants to demonstrate inclusion and equity within the organization.

LDI 2LDI was created by and is issued with the permission of Octavia Seawell/OZS Consulting. Ms. Seawell designs and facilitates all LDI sessions in partnership with other facilitators. Ms. Seawell also provides organizational consulting and follow-up support to individual participants as needed.


LDI was initially launched with grant support from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. Over the course of the program, CBI has been successful in securing support from a broad spectrum of foundations, organizations and corporations. Each LDI class is underwritten by CBI stakeholders who serve as Program Sponsors and Tuition Partners. Program Sponsors’ investment allows CBI to subsidize the participation of community organizations who bring a unique voice to LDI but who would otherwise be unable to participate.