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The John W. Mack Movement Building
Fellows Program


John W. Mack

The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program aims to strengthen and develop the pipeline of next-generation movement leaders to lead social justice and racial equity work that results in a more just and equitable Southern California region.

The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program is designed to help emerging leaders:

  • Transform their leadership skills to more effectively respond and adapt to ever-changing conditions;
  • Better articulate their personal leadership stance;
  • Build upon their existing networks through a dynamic shared peer cohort experience;
  • Deepen the alignment between their personal and shared values and their movement work;
  • Learn from current movement leaders about how to build and manage great teams;
  • Identify how they can better connect with more seasoned movement leaders as well as support the development of the next generation of leaders; and
  • Access other leadership development and support resources for themselves and their organizations.

To view the list of 2019 Fellows, see below. For questions please contact Vera de Vera, program director at vdevera@weingartfnd.org or (213) 688-6313.


Los Angeles has a strong history of social movements including recent campaigns advocating for livable wages, educational equity, criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, marriage equality, affordable housing, environmental justice and economic empowerment. Also, the November 2016 elections have renewed a spark of activism, mass mobilizations and a significant sense of urgency among social justice advocates to ensure that the many gains won by a generation of movement leaders are not rolled back.

Achieving Equity

In March 2017, as part of its commitment to equity announced in summer 2016, the Weingart Foundation convened 170 philanthropic colleagues and nonprofit leaders for a day-long discussion on Achieving Equity in Southern California. One of the key action items from that day was the need to develop and strengthen social justice leaders and the movement building infrastructure in our region. Convening participants identified numerous traits of an effective leader including: boldness, courage, diversity, comfort with crossing sectors, willingness to risk reputation, and the capacity to build bridges, link theory to practice, think outside the box, and spark movement—all essential to achieving steady progress toward racial equity and social justice. It would be difficult to find any one individual who inhabits all these traits, so it is imperative for long-term movement building work that a robust network of leaders who collectively possess these qualities be developed, supported and sustained.

Investing in Next Generation Movement Leaders

In response to this call for more philanthropic investment in developing next generation leadership, the Weingart Foundation began convening a group of seasoned movement building leaders and commissioned a study to explore whether existing programs and supports were sufficient to meet the needs of L.A.’s movement leadership pipeline. The research concluded that a more robust leadership-training infrastructure should be developed, not only to sustain the regional pipeline of next-generation leaders, but to also deepen their commitment to the long-term change needed to achieve social justice and racial equity. The research also revealed that a key inflection point in a movement leader’s career is when they transition from day-to-day campaign work to an executive or senior level leadership position involving added responsibilities for managing resources and supervising staff. Seasoned leaders noted that it was at this critical juncture in their early careers where they felt most vulnerable to potential burnout and frustration due to a rather thin layer of support for newly minted movement leaders.

To help strengthen this regional network of next generation leaders, the Weingart Foundation is investing in a pilot of the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program, named after the late civic leader who began his lifelong career as a movement leader through student activism during the civil rights movement. This program will help emerging leaders develop their adaptive leadership skills, hone their leadership stance, improve their ability to develop more effective campaign strategies, and better access resources that support them as leaders of movement building organizations.



Twelve emerging leaders were selected for the pilot cohort of the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program. The initial cohort will focus on leaders from nonprofits operating primarily in Los Angeles County. The components of the fellowship are:

  • Each Fellow engages in leadership development training, peer learning and coaching support through a series of three overnight retreats, four Learning Days and individualized coaching sessions scheduled over an 18-month period;
  • The program is facilitated by experienced movement builders and Fellows will have the opportunity to co-design portions of the curriculum;
  • Each Fellow has access to up to 40 hours of professional coaching (valued at more than $6,500) during the program; and
  • An Unrestricted Operating Support grant of $25,000 is awarded to each Fellow’s organization to help compensate it for the Fellow’s time away from the office during program activities and support the organization’s internal leadership development practices.



roque armenta
Organizing Director
Power California

Janel Bailey
Co-Executive Director of Organizing and Programs
Los Angeles Black Worker Center

Carlos Cervantes
Ride Home Program Life Coach
Anti-Recidivism Coalition

Sophya Chum
Associate Director
Khmer Girls in Action

Carla DePaz
Director of Community Organizing
East LA Community Corporation

Lesli LeGras Morris
Los Angeles Reproductive Health Equity Project, National Center for Youth Law

Anthony Ng
Co-Founder, UPLIFT

Cheyenne Reynoso
Director of Ocean Protector’s Program
Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples

Flor Rodriguez
Executive Director
CLEAN Car Wash Campaign

Jesus Sanchez
Founder and Executive Director
Gente Organizada

David Turner III
Coalition Manager
Brother Sons Selves Coalition

Tracy Zhao
Executive Director
API Equality—LA