Rockwood Leadership Institute

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Rockwood Leadership Institute is based in Oakland California, and is closely affiliated with the Ford Foundation and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.


2000 ROCKWOOD LEADERSHIP PROGRAM CREATED Along with a dedicated group of environmental activists, Robert Gass and Andre Carothers co-founded Rockwood Leadership Program from a kitchen table in Berkeley, CA.

2003 FIRST COHORT OF THE LEADING FROM THE INSIDE OUT NATIONAL YEARLONG Rockwood’s first cohort of the Leading From The Inside Out national yearlong fellowship included 20 leaders from environmental and social justice movements. Since then, the fellowship has grown, averaging 24 fellows per every year, and led to the creation of other nationally-focused yearlong programs, like the Cross-Movement Fellowship.

2005 ROCKWOOD LAUNCHES SECTOR-BASED FELLOWSHIPS Created in partnership with the Ford Foundation, the Fellowship in Media, Communications and Information Policy was Rockwood’s first sector-based program. Since then, we’ve offered fellowships in the areas of LGBTQ advocacy, human rights and national security reform, death penalty abolition, and many others.

2008 AKAYA WINDWOOD BECOMES PRESIDENT & CEO After several years as a trainer and Director of Programs, Akaya is named President & CEO. Under her leadership, the organization changes its name to Rockwood Leadership Institute.

SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION PROJECT FOUNDED A strong partner to Rockwood, Social Transformation Project was founded by Robert Gass and Jodie Tonita to help leaders explore transformative ideas and practices, and apply them to their organizations and movements.

2015 15 YEARS & 5,000 ALUMS Rockwood’s 15th birthday was also a celebration of a huge milestone: our network grew to over 5,000 alums! Of those 5,000, over 50% are people of color, and over 60% are women.

2016 DARLENE NIPPER BECOMES CEO Having joined the staff the previous year as Chief Impact Officer, Darlene now partner-leads Rockwood with President Akaya Windwood.[1]

From Akaya Winwood, 2015;

From an intrepid few, we are now over 5,000 alumni strong. 52% of us are people of color, women comprise 70%, and our alums lead all over the world. We work in small rural communities and huge global organizations; some are in one-person shops, and others are organizing thousands. We are civil rights leaders, community organizers, artists, unionists, dreamers, planners, and visionaries[2]

Board members

As of December 2017;[3]


As of December 2017;[4]


As of December 2017;[5]

National Leading From the Inside Out Alums