Leading with Conviction

Year-Long Leadership Training Program

Leading with Conviction (LwC) is a cohort based, 12-month opportunity for leaders from around the country. LwC takes place both in-person and virtually. Components of LwC include four weekend-long forums, and six networking webinars, executive coaching, peer coaching, and regular communication.

LwC trainings benefit leaders by introducing them to the people and practices closely linked to successful community and regional criminal justice advocacy efforts, enabling them to take on greater challenges and to generate quantifiable impact in their work.


Components of JLUSA LwC Training

Leadership Skills – Centered on the Leadership Challenge, leaders will develop and sharpen their leadership behaviors based on their 360 assessment and learn tools to practice leadership.

Peer Coaching – Paired with a coach to analyze and understand pre and post 360 assessment; Leaders will create a one-year work plan with their coach outlining learning goals throughout the program.

Personal Development – Acknowledging the need for individual skills and development and understanding oneself, leaders are encouraged to take time for themselves. Leaders will be provided with training on trauma and self-care. It is vitally important as a leader that you model both good business and personal skills for your team, including self-care and healthy communication. Leaders will be able to practice mindfulness and implement strategies for selfcare.

In addition to personal care, our leaders have powerful stories. It is imperative that their stories are given the platform they deserve. Stories when told in an organized manner can have the desired impact. Our leaders will be provided with elements of effective storytelling and given an opportunity to practice storytelling with their peers. Leaders will apply three-part storytelling skills of story of self, story of us and story of now.


Internal DevelopmentBuilding community is vital to ensuring that a team shares the same vision, is willing to challenge the process, and able to rely upon one another. Within their own organizations, leaders will identify skills each person brings, how each other operate, and trust each other driving the group towards a common goal.

An essential component of this is equity, while ensuring equity permeates everything a leader does, this training specifically calls out how to ensure that people are not marginalized, that everyone has their needs met (and ensures an understanding that not all needs are the same). Leaders will be able to identify structural and organization barriers to equity. Leaders will develop tools and strategies to mitigate inequalities in their business practices, teams and organizational structures.

As a practical application, internal development sessions will cover how to develop and lead a board (or other internal leadership and accountability structure). The board development session will also cover some of the practicalities of setting up a board, and ensuring that organizations are legally, and fiscally sound. Leaders will understand the purpose and role of a board, and how to create, and integrate, a board into their organizational operations.

Finally, a true understanding of self requires understanding of one’s own communication style and approach to conflict, and how those interact with others. Conflict management sessions span personal, internal and external development. Conflict may arise as from not understanding what the other person is conveying, or values, than the issue itself. To avoid these, leaders must understand themselves and their teams to lead effectively. Leaders will identify situationally appropriate conflict resolution strategies and apply them to situations as they arise.


External DevelopmentAdvocacy and policy, while relying on both storytelling and inspiring a vision, has a specific purpose not covered prior. Likewise, building a coalition is not the same as building a team, understanding the goals of entering a coalition, the responsibilities of everyone, and an exit strategy or accomplishments which remove the need for the activity, are important to set, and understand. Knowing other partners’ values, communication styles and stories will help create solid coalitions around strategic goals.

The external development skills will also cover how to fundraise well, develop grant writing skills and craft communications skills, both with traditional media relations and social media. Each of these require the solid organizational structures built as part of internal development (especially when applying for federal funding) and are vital to the sustaining of operations of a non-profit or new enterprise.


Eligibility and Admission Criteria

Applicants must have at least 3 years post-criminal justice involvement to ensure they have had the time to resolve normal re-entry issues, secure housing and employment and focus on leadership advocacy in their communities.

Fellows must be directly impacted by the criminal justice system (juvenile and/or criminal justice involvement is required to be eligible and includes but is not limited to: actual incarceration [served time in jail and/or prison], arrest with or without conviction, under community supervision [i.e. parole, sentenced to probation-only],  involvement as a client in the juvenile justice, family directly involved in the system). Individuals on parole and / or probation are eligible for Leading with Conviction.

All applicants MUST have demonstrated a minimum 3 year track record of leadership with a specific commitment to advocacy and community organizing, not only direct services.

Please contact leadership@jlusa.org for more information about the nomination process.