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Transformative Leadership: Panel Discussion

Feb 2, 2020

Transformative Leadership is an approach to leadership that serves as a framework for personal and social transformation. It is especially useful for those concerned with social justice, involved in projects or programs of social action, or who participate in the discourse of society. More broadly, anyone who participates in a family, team, or organization and wishes to better the quality of its interactions will find it helpful.

Image © Jessica Kerr

Since its development by Nur University in Santa Cruz Bolivia, 25 years ago, Transformative Leadership has been used in approximately 60 projects or workshops in more than 30 countries, demonstrating its applicability in different cultures, professions, and age groups. Based on the fundamental premise that all can exercise leadership, without the need of having a formal position of authority, Transformative Leadership is founded on a conceptual framework with the following elements.

●Service-Oriented Leadership
● Personal and Social Transformation
● The Investigation and Application of Truth
● A Conviction of the Essential Nobility of the Human Being
● Transcendence
● The Development of Capabilities

In this panel discussion facilitated by Nicola Daniels, Wilmette Institute Registrar, we will share examples of how people apply Transformative Leadership in their lives, its impact, and some of the fundamental concepts.

Note: On February 13, the Wilmette Institute launched a 6-week online course that delved much more deeply into these and other fundamental aspects of Transformative Leadership.


Joan (Juanita) Hernandez, MA

Author, Transformative Leadership Educator

I consider myself a world citizen. I was born and grew up in the United States, becoming a Bahá’í as a university student. Immediately after graduating, I moved to Guatemala as a pioneer. Then, in 1990 I moved to Bolivia, where I began my work with Nur University. During my years at Nur, I became known for my work on Moral Leadership, which we developed with Dr. Eloy Anello in 1992. The Spanish edition of the book Moral Leadership is now in its 4th edition and has been used in educational programs throughout Latin America. With the aid of May Khadem, the English version, titled Transformative Leadership: Developing the Hidden Dimension, was published in 2014, although unofficial pdf translations had been used for many years in development projects, especially in Africa and Asia under the auspices of Health for Humanity. In all, I am the author or co-author of more than twenty books on leadership, education, family life, social economic development, and the Bahá’í Faith. Although some of my books are only available in Spanish, my books in English can be found on Amazon at In 2019 I began working with Vahid Masrour and Jessica Kerr in Transformative Leadership Education in order to form a center for the many people in different countries who are applying Transformative Leadership. We invite you to visit our webpage to familiarize yourself with the concepts and activities of Transformative Leadership. You can also sign up for the newsletter that we publish every two weeks with articles related to activities of Transformative Leadership in different parts of the world.See Faculty Bio


Vahid Masrour, BA

WI Adjunct Lecturer

Having resided in 6 countries (so far!), and being a polyglot, I consider myself a world citizen. Originally trained as a psychologist, I’ve dedicated much of my time to creating and facilitating training activities both in the for-profit and non-profit worlds. I am now keenly interested in participating in the inquiry about what educational systems could and should look like in the 21st century. I first got acquainted with Anello & Hernandez’s Transformative Leadership in the 90s, and immediately started implementing it in the workshops and training I facilitated. Having worked closely with Eloy Anello and Joan Hernandez in different projects, I had the opportunity to develop materials that adapted Transformative Leadership to youth groups. I currently am collaborating with Transformative Leadership Education, sharing its approaches to international audiences. As a Bahá’í, I am particularly interested in topics related to Bahá’u’lláh’s New World Order, and the transition of humanity towards it. In the core activities, serving as a tutor has been my favorite activity.See Faculty Bio


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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