DSA-LA Priority Resolution:
The Multiracial Leadership Development Resolution
Authors: Maikiko J., Benina S., Jordan E.
This proposal calls for the chapter to establish an organizing “Institute” that can provide practical organizing skills training and leadership support for developing leaders to become capable of running effective, mass, socialist campaigns; with an emphasis on investing in members of color.
NOTE: The authors of this resolution believe the chapter must prioritize selecting external-facing campaigns at our upcoming local convention. This resolution is designed to be complementary to such campaigns. However, depending on what other resolutions are presented to the membership for consideration, the authors of this resolution are prepared to pull this from consideration or to seek to combine it directly with another resolution.
In order to realize our goals for a socialist agenda, DSA must be an organization of organizers. But we currently lack the educational structure our members need to grow into the organizers our work requires. We lack intentional leadership development. Many highly-capable people join the organization and find themselves in a sink or swim environment, where they are not given the support they need to thrive. This especially impacts POC members, who must contend with many other social & systemic obstacles that limit their ability to deal with the stress of attempting to lead without training and support.
Even current leaders have not benefited from healthy leadership development, and so we individually struggle to offer it to others. A specific and strategic intervention is needed.
The Multiracial Leadership Development Resolution is very simple. It calls for the establishment of the DSA-LA Organizing Institute in alignment with the national Institute to be devised by the Multiracial Organizing Committee (MROC) – a body established at the 2021 national convention through the passage of Resolution 31, “Making DSA a Multiracial and Anti-racist Organization” – with the explicit direction that the institute should be a way for members, prioritizing members of color, to develop leadership skills and experience in the organization.
What is the DSA-LA Organizing Institute?
- It is a recurring, multi-week intensive course that offers skills training and trust-building courses and experiences for socialist leaders and organizers.
- The Institute should accept a limited number of candidates in each session, committed to completing the entirety of the curriculum, to ensure quality of learning experience as well as promoting commitment from participants.
- Selection preference should be given to applicants of underrepresented backgrounds and identities, especially underrepresented racial identities – with an aim to have at least half of participants be members of color.
- Some seats must be reserved for developing leaders who are actively participating in the chapter’s external-facing priority campaigns
- Curriculum should align with the national training resources being compiled by the new Multiracial Organizing Committee
- The first session should be completed by the end of Spring 2022
- By the time the resolution expires, Steering Committee should make sure that it is set up to repeat and continue sustainably into the future.
- Pre-Institute training — While the Institute is being developed, the Working Group should leverage pre-existing national training resources to offer to all local members in order to promote skills training and interest in enrolling in the Institute. The goal should be to host 3 of these training events between Nov 2021-Feb 2022 with a total 250 members participating.
- Ongoing National Training Promotion — Many national working groups regularly host skills training events that can serve to supplement local programming. The Working Group should develop a process for making sure DSA-LA members are aware of these opportunities on an ongoing basis.
Prospective Timeline for DSA-LA Organizing Institute Development
- November 2021 – First meeting of steering and appointed working group members
- December 2021 – Curriculum drafted, application process developed
- January 2022 – Begin advertising Institute to all members and begin accepting applications
- February 2022 – Finalize curriculum and course timeline, select first round of participants
- March 2022 – April 2022 – First Institute session launches
- Steering Committee time and energy in forming the initial Working Group — membership of this working group to be at least half people of color.
- Ongoing chapter communications resources to promote the Institute and ancillary trainings
- Room rental fees for some sessions
- Material fees for printing lessons, handouts, and mementos for participants
- Speaker fees for guest speakers
Q: What sort of curriculum will the Institute feature?
A: There is already a huge amount of nationally developed and approved curriculum that is regularly used. This contains trainings on power-mapping, campaign development, and campaign management.
Q: Who will be in charge of defining the curriculum?
A: The curriculum will be developed by the national Multiracial Organizing Committee (MROC). The local working group may adapt the curriculum to suit local needs if needed.
Q: How will this resolution engage the DSA-LA membership?
A: This resolution is designed to be complimentary with other priority resolutions, training organizers to run external campaigns that do an even better job at activating at our base than previous campaigns. The resolution itself will create a number of volunteer opportunities for members who want to be involved with implementation.
Q: What volunteer opportunities will this create beyond the chance for members to be educated via the institute and ancillary trainings?
A: This resolution will create many volunteer opportunities for implementation, including the following examples:
- Booking and coordinating the pre-Institute trainings open to all membership
- Developing promo plans to advertise the pre-Institute trainings
- Developing promo plans to advertise the Institute
- Administrating the admission program (getting applications, setting criteria, making selections)
- Coordinating facilitation for sessions
- Facilitation sessions
- Booking physical meeting spaces for some Institute sessions
Q: How many sessions and weeks will the Institute last?
A: To be determined – One potential model could involve, for example, six sessions, with one session every two weeks, to last for three months.
Q: How many people will get to participate in the institute?
A: To be decided based on capacity and interest, with a goal of engaging as many people as possible while creating an effective learning environment.
Organizational Priority Alignment
While our chapter has grown to over 5,000 members since our last local convention, we have lagged behind in creating and strengthening the structures needed to train socialist organizers to carry DSA-LA into the mass organization that wins material gains for LA’s multiracial working class
On top of being a resolution passed in the consent agenda of the 2021 National Convention, one of our local organizational priorities in our chapter’s mission statement says that DSA-LA must, “develop and implement training materials and protocols for a variety of skill sets that empower members to act as effective rank-and-file organizers and step into new leadership roles confidently.” Looking ahead to 2022, the external campaigns democratically decided on at this Local Convention, as well as the electoral campaigns we will engage with, through the new electoral endorsement timelines and Democratic Socialist Program, we will need new and supported leaders to carry out the campaigns of the next year, as the chapter will see an influx of chapter engagement and therefore new organizers that need training.
Relevant Goals for Working Groups
This internally-facing resolution is written with the intent that the Working Group established from its passing will be used to support two external campaigns passed at local convention, as well as any campaigns from Committees. The goal of the working group is to set up and sustain a training series committed to prioritizing developing organizing skills of members of color. For Committees and Working Groups not related to the passing of this resolution, this will cultivate stronger external campaigns, and fight leader burnout through leadership development.