Transformative Leadership: Panel Discussion

Feb 02, 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 http://tinyurl.com/JoanBH. 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, 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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