The Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) program is committed to developing leaders who advocate for values of inclusion, cooperation, power-sharing, justice, and equity. The program’s trainings and resources are designed to empower, mobilize, and equip leaders with the awareness, skills, and action steps necessary to foster and sustain positive intergroup relations.
The Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) Program grows out of a specific moment in the landscape of Los Angeles culture. In the late 1980′s, several community centers and places of worship were vandalized with messages of hate. By 1989, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) began thinking seriously about developing a program that would provide individuals with specific skills to address human relations issues.
The first LDIR program began in 1991 and graduated the first LDIR participants a few weeks after the Los Angeles 1992 civil unrest. While the first class was conducted solely by APALC, after the graduation the League of United Latino American Citizens (LULAC) of San Gabriel Valley added their support. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference/Martin Luther King Dispute Resolution Center (SCLC/MLKDRC) also joined as a formal partner to better round out the program’s curriculum and community representation.
In 1997, with the support of the LDIR’s Operations Board which by then included APALC, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and SCLC/MLKDRC, the decision was made to take the LDIR program into the schools and into the classrooms. The mantra at the time was “every student at every school.” The LDIR school-based program ultimately expanded to public schools in Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Alhambra Unified School Districts working with hundreds of students.
In 2002, with the support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, LDIR replicated the training in Flint, Michigan, and Philadelphia, helping those communities to make the curriculum their own. In the ensuing years, LDIR positioned itself at the vanguard of leadership development programs by expanding its curriculum to build greater understanding of, and participation by, transgender, queer, and other populations often facing discrimination and exclusion.
In 2004, LDIR staff conducted an indepth study of existing leadership development programs in the health sector and recognized a need for health based leadership programming. In mid 2005, LDIR launched the LDIRs in Health Program. In early 2007, the LDIRs in Health Program brought training resources to a new community of health advocates in the Central Valley.
At this same time, other non-profit organizations increased their demand for training resources and technical assistance. LDIR staff developed marketing materials and a condensed training curriculum to respond to this need. By the end of 2007, responding to the training needs of non-profit organizations had become an integral part of LDIR program delivery.
From schools, to new communities, to multiple sectors, the LDIR program has continued to expand to share resources in new and innovative ways.
The LDIR program is co-sponsored by:
LDIR’s Guiding Principles
The following principles outline the philosophy of the LDIR program and provide a rationale for the way we approach our work.
- We believe that intergroup tensions result from a complex interaction of individual prejudice, bias, misinformation, ignorance, the pressures of a changing society (e.g. economic shifts, lack of jobs, increasing immigration, etc.), and structural inequality/institutional oppression. Therefore, we believe that the issues must be addressed on multiple levels: personal, intergroup and societal. These levels are generally interrelated and interdependent as they contribute to social divisions. Therefore, any comprehensive effort must address all these levels.
- We believe that work on these issues must start with the individual.
- We believe that personal transformation will begin the process of community transformation, and that this community transformation comes about through the exertion of effective leadership.
- We believe that a new brand of leadership is required – one that is able to implement and advocate for the values of inclusion, cooperation, power sharing, justice, and equity.
- We believe in self-determination and the power of indigenous leadership.
- We believe that work focused solely on getting all people to get along is important, but not sufficient. Such efforts must also be linked with a commitment to pursuing social/economic justice for the collective good.
- We believe that justice and peace must go hand in hand - that any peace achieved outside of justice and equity for all groups involved, is tenuous at best.
- We believe that it is not sufficient to deal only with the issue of racism. It is important to understand other forms of oppression (classism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, religious bigotry, and others) and their intersections as they work in tandem to uphold the power structure and maintain the status quo.
- We believe that we need to be proactive in addressing intergroup tensions.
- We believe strongly in the promotion of interethnic collaboration.
- We do not endorse the concept of color-blindness.
- The main focus of this program is not to get people to like each other or even agree with each other, but to understand that we all need to learn how to work together.
- We acknowledge that it is important to be realistic about what a program like LDIR can accomplish. LDIR does not provide any instant formulas for dealing with intergroup relations. It will not resolve all the tensions in the community, it will not erase all institutional inequities, nor will people be cured of all their prejudices and biases. Rather, the LDIR program provides tools to facilitate the on-going process of personal growth, and serves as a catalyst to promote collaborative community work and broader social change.
Who We Are
LDIR is a program led by a fierce multi-racial group of individuals from diverse class backgrounds who use a team and collective decision-making approach to doing the work. Some of us are first and second generation immigrants. Some of us are queer, and some of us are straight. We come from various communities of faith and define our spirituality in varied ways. We know that our identity and social location informs our work, and that there are many aspects to who we are that our bios do not address. We invite you to get to know us!
Li’i is of Japanese and Mexican descent and a life long resident of the Los Angeles area. She attended LAUSD schools and graduated from UCLA, where she was co-founder of the UCLA Student Initiated Access Center and Director of MEChA de UCLA’s Xinachtli Outreach Program. Li’i currently works at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center as the Youth Programs Manager, directing the Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations School Based Program. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the UMMA Community Clinic in South Los Angeles.
Carmen is presently the Program Director of LDIR. Under her leadership the LDIR program has received local and national recognition and has expanded to Flint, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Northern California. Carmen co-wrote and edited ExpandingLDIRship: A Resource Promoting Positive Intergroup Relations in Communities Through Awareness, Skills and Actions in 2002, which remains the center piece of LDIR’s community programming and training. She has presented at national conferences including the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, National Association for Multicultural Education, Grantmakers in Health, INCITE! and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation’s Annual Meeting, to name a few.
Carmen is a founding member of the California Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), a former Human Services Commissioner for the City of Pasadena, and is currently on the fundraising committee for Black Women for Wellness, a community-based organization serving women in South Los Angeles. Carmen remains a committed community activist who has worked within the non-profit sector, specifically around social justice issues, for over 15 years. As a founding member and current President of Liberty Hill Foundation’s donor advised funds for women of color, Carmen combines her commitment to community, activism, and philanthropy.
Diana Aquino Price
Raven Jones is a recent graduate from Pitzer College with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and a depth in gender, race and class. She has worked with women and children at Prototypes Women’s Rehabilitation Center as well as youth and teens at De Anza Community Center and the Inland Congregations United for Change. She served her college peers as a campus leader, facilitating and mediating discussions focused on privilege, identity and community building in organizations such as BSU, FemCo and PWOC. She comes to LDIR with a deep passion for intercultural understanding, conflict resolution and social justice.
Karen recently graduated from Pepperdine University with her M.A. in Social Entrepreneurship & Change. She is excited to share her background in Social Entrepreneurship and is passionate about social change and supporting the growth and development of individuals. Karen comes to LDIR with a deep appreciation for diversity and environments that foster teamwork and collaboration.
Jenny is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, pursuing a major in History and double minor in Political Science and Asian American Studies. She first became interested in advocacy and social justice when she joined student government at UCLA and took Asian American Studies courses. Her passion for social change is reflected in her ambition to become a civil rights lawyer, so that she can someday make a change in her community.
Work with LDIR
LDIR is not currently hiring, but please check back for new opportunities in the future. Also, we strongly encourage anyone interested in LDIR to learn about our work by participating in an upcoming training or workshop!