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Transformative Leadership for Youth: Cultivating Beauty and Friendship

Jul 1, 2021
animated friends hugging

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, Multimedia Artist, founder Cultivating Capacities, GSO (nonprofit) and co-founder, Transformative Leadership Education (nonprofit)

As a professional photographer, graphic and multimedia artist, I have served children, junior youth and youth in Northern Colorado for over 10 years. In that time, learning through hands-on experience in the Ruhi Institute process community-building activities served as a catalyst to form Cultivating Capacities, GSO (grassroots support organization) in 2015, a nonprofit organization that empowers people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures to develop capabilities and skills through knowledge, volition and action. Work in the field of Baha’i-inspired social and economic development led to the discovery of Transformative Leadership, Developing the Hidden Dimension by Anello, Hernandez and Khadem in 2017. It was then that support, accompaniment and collaboration began with Joan Hernandez, co-author of Transformative Leadership, Developing the Hidden Dimension to bring Transformative Leadership to the youth and community of Northern Colorado.  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 classes for children, junior youth, and youth. I hold the conviction that youth are the change the world wants to see. And, as a mother of four teenagers, and an artist and community member, I am committed to empowering youth through Transformative Leadership which provides not only a new model of service-oriented leadership but sets a foundation for cultivating a new conceptual framework founded in transformative learning. The Transformative Leadership for Youth: Cultivating Capabilities for Change seminar invites youth to “serve as instruments of beauty and progress” through the dual processes of personal and social transformation, and to be “agents of change” that contribute to building an ever-advancing world civilization founded on unity, justice and peace.  Prior to Covid-19 closing communities around the world, Transformative Leadership for Youth workshops were facilitated in Northern Colorado junior youth and youth groups. The dynamic nature of the Transformative Leadership material resonated with people of all ages and backgrounds, and cultivated interfaith relationships as well as social action community projects. In 2019 and 2020, Transformative Leadership for Youth seminars were integrated with a photography and multimedia art workshop called Being the Change through the Lens. These seminars served youth 11-17 years in Compass Community Collaborative School in Fort Collins, Colorado. Experience empowering youth in the Transformative Leadership for Youth seminars led to the development of online seminars with Wilmette Institute in March 2020 as the youth of the world faced school and community closures. It is an honor and gift to learn, serve, and celebrate beauty and knowledge alongside youth from all backgrounds. It is through the innate society-building powers of youth that we will illumine the world with the light of unity and justice.See Faculty Bio


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