Transformative Leadership for Youth: Cultivating Beauty and Friendship

Jul 1, 2021

Image: Digital Art by Change Agent Art by Olivia in response to Covid-19 social distance mandates. Olivia created “Huggables” to share a message of love with family and friends. What she missed most was hugging. 

By Jessica Lani Kamál Kerr

What began in March 2020, in response to the global onset of Covid-19, has steadily progressed with beautiful and awe-inspiring influence on the personal and social relationships of youth. The 5th session of Transformative Leadership for Youth (TLY) and the 4th session of Being the Change: Cultivating Capabilities has started and it is already obvious that the eagerness to learn, the ability to see beauty all around and the genuine authentic friendships that are being forged and strengthened will serve as a steady foundation for the next five weeks of the seminars. 

In this dynamic session, Youth who have spent the last year in earlier courses have graduated and are now serving as TLY facilitators, supporting new and returning Change Agents through the Transformative Leadership service-oriented model of leadership. In addition, several TLY grads are hosting Change Agent Hangouts, spaces dedicated to developing new skills and talents in diverse areas of art. Professional artists also support these spaces with the invitation to the youth to “be the change” they want to see in the world by translating their learning into art projects of their choice. 

Youth face many challenges in today’s world. Over the last year, with the support of Wilmette Institute, youth from around the world have studied together, created beautiful art, initiated projects that serve community and have engaged in a framework for action that supports the betterment of relationships at all levels of life. By dedicating themselves to the practice of Transformative Leadership, its 6 elements and 18 capabilities, youth are empowered to take ownership of their personal and social development and to consciously contribute to building a just, peaceful and unified world. 

The next course designed for youth aged 11 to 17 years is called “`Abdu’l-Bahá, The Light to the World.” Click the title for more information/to register a youth. Parental consent is required.


Jessica Lani Kamál Kerr

Photographer, Founder of Cultivating Capacities Non-Profit

I am a professional photographer, graphic and multimedia artist and have lived in Northern Colorado since 1997. In 2015 I formalized a nonprofit grassroots support organization, Cultivating Capacities, in order to offer people of all ages and backgrounds opportunities to develop capabilities, skills and knowledge to effect personal and social transformation. Currently, I live in Severance, Colorado with my husband Kevin and our four teenagers (two girls and two boys). Throughout the years, we have hosted community building activities such as children’s classes, junior youth & youth gatherings and groups, interfaith devotions and study circles from the Bahá’í-inspired Ruhi Institute. Natural growth of the community building initiatives has evolved into societal discourse and social action initiatives. I hold the conviction that youth can change the world. For over 10 years I have dedicated myself to accompanying junior youth and youth to navigate today’s challenges and empower them toward personal and social transformation. In 2017, I discovered Transformative Leadership Developing the Hidden Dimension by Anello, Hernandez and Khadem. Immediately, I contacted Ms. Hernandez to learn more and offer my assistance in promoting Transformative Leadership in my area. Every paragraph I read from Transformative Leadership Developing the Hidden Dimension touched my heart with profound meaning and potency. It is a beautiful framework for systematic and coherent action. I integrated it into all areas of community building initiatives as well as my nonprofit initiatives. I am integrating Transformative Leadership in a Northern Colorado junior youth group and am currently teaching seminars on Transformative Leadership and photography to middle and high school students called Being the Change through the Lens at Compass Community Collaborative School in Fort Collins, Colorado. My experience implementing the Transformative Leadership model has enabled me to better relationships at all levels; personal, interpersonal and societal. In addition, it has enabled me to better serve youth. I have been witness to seeing young people awaken to their powers of expression and development of capabilities through the celebration of beauty in the world around them and appreciating learning through humility.See Faculty Bio

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