Christi Lee



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Equipping People to Impact Organizations


Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) is an organizational change program designed to support senior staff and/or board members of non-profit, for-profit, and public organizations in the leadership role they and their organizations have to actively promote inclusion and equity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The program addresses dimensions of diversity such as race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economics, religion, sexual orientation, and more.


LDI focuses on leadership for both individuals and organizations. While LDI provides a deep personal development journey, its primary focus is on organizational change, and 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. LDI graduates, in turn, become  key resources for each other, their organization(s), the community, and for CBI as part of a network of “influencers.” Since the program’s inception in 2001, 488 people from 39 organizations have participated in LDI.


LDI utilizes a variety of experiential and interactive methodologies to support the following focus areas:

  • Inclusion and Equity: Conceptual Framework, Issues/Topics related to Structural Exclusion
  • Influencing & Leadership Skills: Personal Assessment, Styles of Influencing, Tools and Skills for Influencing at the Individual, Group, Organizational and Community Levels
  • Community & Relationship Building: Engagement, Support, and Challenge among Participants as a Model for Building Community and Trust
  • Local, State & National Context: Historical Perspectives / Current & Future Challenges for Inclusion & Equity

PERSONAL: Individual leaders with the knowledge, skills and courage for influencing inclusion and equity, and a network of resources and support for those leaders.

ORGANIZATIONAL: Organizations better able to develop practices, strategies and programs for inclusion and equity, both in their own internal systems and in the parts of the community they influence.

COMMUNITY: Stronger network of individuals and organizations making up a connected community, with commitment to and capacity for building a more equitable and just Charlotte-Mecklenburg. 


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


LDI is a proven vehicle for organizational leaders (board and staff) to gain understanding and leadership skills for “influencing” for inclusion and equity through:

  • Increased self and organizational awareness;
  • A toolkit (strategies, assessments, guidelines) for influencing at the individual, group, and organizational levels;
  • Access to a network of organizations open to partnership and collaboration to increase inclusion and equity in the community.
  • Access to ongoing support and consultation to leverage the organization’s “critical mass” of LDI participants to reinforce their internal and/or external efforts to demonstrate inclusion and equity.

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 identify two representatives at a time, optimally, two individuals who embody diversity across race, ethnicity, gender, etc.


In addition to diversity, the following are participation criteria for organizations and individuals, and CBI executes a Memorandum of Understanding referencing these criteria.


Organizations commit to:

  • Examine their commitment to and capacity for increasing access, inclusion, and equity, both internally and in the community, and their ability to set goals/strategies for both.
  • Identify and recruit appropriate board/senior staff pairs to participate in LDI with an emphasis on their capacity for organizational influence (See Participant Expectations below).
  • Support organizational representatives so they can actively and consistently participate in all LDI program sessions and take part in alumni activities once they have completed LDI.
  • Support the LDI program through a financial contribution to CBI. Financial support may take the form of a LDI Program Sponsorship or organizational tuition. CBI may consider a sliding tuition scale for smaller non-profit organizations (budgets < $500,000).
  • Respond in a timely manner to CBI’s requests for organizational assessments and other evaluative tools connected to LDI.
  • Convene their LDI graduates and participants at least once annually to build internal capacity and commitment, consider support needed from CBI/LDI, and to assess progress toward desired outcomes.
  • Utilize their LDI participants to sustain organizational commitment and capacity for promoting inclusion and equity.
  • Commit to continued future participation in LDI, as appropriate.


Individuals agree to:

  • Demonstrate a capacity and commitment to influence for inclusion and equity within the organization they represent and the community at large;
  • Communicate a desire for and commitment to LDI as a personal development experience;
  • Commit to investing the time and personal energy that LDI requires; specifically, consistent attendance and participation at all LDI sessions,Bridging Groups, and other LDI-related activities;

LDI consists of 12 full-day monthly sessions held on weekdays. Class members are also expected to participate in an ongoing small “Bridging Group” which designs 2 - 3 community-based experiences of 2 - 3 hours each. In addition, conversations with others in the organization are expected. Generally, each new cohort begins with an orientation in May and monthly sessions beginning in June.


Because LDI is an experiential community-building program and not a “class” in which missed sessions can easily be made up, consistent attendance is vital to achieving program goals – for individual participants, their organizations and for CBI as the program sponsor. CBI makes every effort to schedule sessions such that the majority of participants can attend consistently. Participants must adhere to working agreements regarding attendance and organizations are expected to support their representatives’ regular attendance and ongoing participation.


LDI costs $7,500 per organizational pair. Generous support from LDI Program Sponsors makes it possible for CBI to offer a sliding scale tuition/scholarships to smaller non-profit organizations for whom the full tuition would be a barrier to participation. However, every organization is expected to contribute a minimum of $2,750 to help offset the cost of the program. 

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