The Black Defender Leadership Institute (BDLI) is the first of its kind in the country. It provides specialized leadership training for Black defenders along with professional support tailored to the unique lived experiences of balancing their professional development in an overwhelmingly white profession while helping their fellow Black brethren navigate through traumatic systems of oppression and harm. BDLI is unique in its mission to offer continuous personalized support to Black emerging leaders as they reach new benchmarks, assume new positions, and achieve career goals.

 The curriculum for BDLI is based on NLADA’s Transformational Leadership Framework, which supports leaders in creating big shifts in thinking among any audience they encounter. The Transformational Leadership Framework consists of six core competencies: Race, Culture Change, Movement Lawyering, Research + Data, Scaling, and Technology.

The BDLI program employs three strategies for the optimal learning experience:

  1. Leadership Training from Black experts, mentors, and defender leaders; 
  2. Online Learning Community for asynchronous learning, collaboration, and discussion; and
  3. Ongoing Evaluation and Assessment, undergirded by the Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation (CREE) participatory approach to outcomes assessments, which is culturally relevant to Black defenders on their leadership journeys. 

While both the introductory BDLI 1.0 and the advanced BDLI 2.0 program will use the above three strategies, BDLI 2.0 will also have the additional strategy of providing direct, one-on-one mentoring and professional support services as BDLI 2.0 leaders execute their transformational leadership projects.

We held an informational session on April 14, 2022 to clarify the difference between BDLI 1.0 and 2.0 and provide an opportunity for questions to help applicants determine who should apply to each module. You can access the recording below with the following passcode: T=4XZPrW

Black Defender Leadership 1.0

The goal of BDLI 1.0 is to introduce 15 participants to the core competencies of transformational leadership and create a pipeline from the field to leadership within public defense and beyond. BDLI 1.0 participants will attend monthly leadership sessions, which provides substantive learning, small group discussions, and coaching led by a diverse faculty of defender leaders and race equity experts. The BDLI online platform is a collaborative space that engages community members in online asynchronous learning, weekly updates, peer mentorship, and open discussion threads. Throughout the program, there will be ongoing evaluation and assessment to allow participants and BPDA to make changes or additions to the programming to help participants meet desired leadership outcomes.

Who should apply to BDLI 1.0?
Black professionals in the realm of criminal defense who aspire to leadership positions in their offices or communities. We will prioritize applicants who employ a holistic and movement lawyer approach to their work, which enables them to maximize their impact as transformational leaders.
Time Commitment
Five hours per month, June 2022 - May 2023.
Application Process
Application form is available below. Deadline for application submission is Saturday, April 30, 2022.

Black Defender Leadership 2.0

BDLI 2.0 is designed to provide emerging black leaders with access to resources and wrap-around leadership support to implement the six core competencies of transformational leadership through a specific community-based project or leadership goal. Participants will attend monthly BDLI 2.0 training sessions, which will include presentations by professional and personal development professionals, as well as facilitated small group workshops. The program will also consist of asynchronous learning, for which materials will be provided to participants via the BDLI online portal. The BDLI 2.0 faculty and program evaluator will do monthly check-ins with each participant to discuss how they are applying monthly training concepts to their project/leadership goal.

The BDLI 2.0 participants will be paired with professional mentors, and they will be provided one-on-one access with other experts to help them execute their leadership plans. Expertise made available will include the areas of development, research and data analysis, communication and outreach, wellness, professional development/coaching, or other areas that may be identified through evaluations of participants’ leadership goals.

Who should apply to BDLI 2.0?
Emerging leaders who work in a field related to carceral systems. Preference will be given to those who participated in BDLI or NLADA Transformational Leadership Race Equity Program (TLI) in 2021.
Time Commitment
June 2022-May 2023 - Participants must commit to at least ten hours each month to focus on their leadership goals and training. Participants may then meet or exceed monthly program participation hours through community or stakeholder meetings or project implementation. Participants must also submit quarterly progress and evaluation reports on their leadership goals.
Stipend
BDLI 2.0 participants will each be awarded a stipend of $5,000.
Application Process
Applicants must propose a project or leadership position to which they aspire, including timeline, benchmarks, and project/leadership outputs and outcomes. In addition, the application will require them to articulate the change they hope to be able to achieve after participating in this program. Five participants will be selected for the BDLI 2.0 intensive program. Applications are due by Saturday, April 30, 2022. Application available below.