At the core of Wild Project workshops is an approach utilizing five basic organizing leadership practices that draw upon a rich history of community organizing, social movements, and campaigns. This framework is taught at the Harvard Kennedy School by Dr. Marshall Ganz, a celebrated civil rights organizer, and has been adapted in cultures and contexts launching grassroots efforts around the world.
Participants are intentionally recruited in small groups of 5-7 people where they will learn together and explore campaigns that will make a meaningful impact within their own organization, community, or cause. Each participant will learn the following five practices with the goal of returning home to apply their learnings:
How to articulate a story of why you were called to lead, a story of those whom you hope to mobilize, and a story of action: self, us, and now.
How to build intentional relationships as the foundation of purposeful collective actions.
How to structure a team with shared purpose, ground rules and roles for effective leadership.
How to strategize turning resources into the power to achieve clear goals.
How to translate strategy into measurable, motivational, and effective action.
The workshops are coordinated by Dan Grandone, who brings 20 years of experience as a community organizer and leadership trainer. Dan has adapted this framework in cultures and contexts across the country and internationally, and served as a Teaching Fellow with Professor Ganz. Additional trainers are recruited from the Leading Change Network—a global community of practice with extensive experience leading workshops.
A priority of the Wild Project is building capacity of new trainers in this framework. Since launching, we’ve seen the growth of an expanding number of trainers who with coaching support have taken an active role in leading training sessions!
Trainers are recruited from the Leading Change Network, a global community of practice that brings extensive organizing experience in leading workshops and developing local training capacity. Hundreds of workshop participants have also been developed to take active roles in facilitating small group work and leading training sessions.
Dan is a Midwestern native and founder of the Wild Project. Moved by his faith and experience working with young people in the inner-city schools of Houston, Texas, Dan was called to organizing. For the past 24 years, he has supported grassroots organizations in struggling communities throughout the US and world including the Middle East, South Africa, Venezuela, New Zealand, Denmark and Canada. From 1999-2006, he worked in St. Louis, Missouri as a faith-based organizer on a variety of grassroots initiatives that delivered historic victories addressing poverty and later played an integral role in the 2008 Presidential Campaign. He co-founded the Leading Change Network—a global community of practice—and since has trained and stood in solidarity with thousands of leaders across many social justice movements.
Dan received his bachelor’s degree from Marquette University, Masters in Social Work from St. Louis University and Masters in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University studying social movements and non-profit administration. He was a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University with Dr. Marshall Ganz in community organizing and guest lecturer at Marquette University. Dan currently lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his two sons.
Nneka Akubeze was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI to two incredible parents who taught her the value of faith, education, community, and justice. From the Catholic social justice teachings of her upbringing to her application of the same throughout life, Nneka discovered her voice at a young age. She went on to become a community organizer who works tirelessly with communities of color in an effort to secure collective liberation.
Nneka earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. After graduating she worked as Executive Director for United Council of UW Students in the non-profit sector, endeavoring to improve access and affordability for students in Wisconsin and across the country. Over the course of her tenure, she served on the Wisconsin Leadership Development Project core team, cultivating new leadership and lasting change in the state of Wisconsin. She went on to join the Leading Change Network – a collective which supports new civic leadership that organizes communities to build power and create change. In 2016, Nneka examined her role in addressing broader, systemic harms and made the decision to step back from front line organizing to pursue her law degree.
Nneka attended Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, TX graduating Magna Cum Laude. She launched her law practice shortly thereafter working in criminal law and immigration while earning her Master of Laws degree in Immigration and Nationality. Nneka works as an Of Counsel attorney with the Sparks Law Firm, handling anything from terroristic threat to federal drug charges.
In addition to her work as a criminal defense attorney and immigration lawyer, Nneka specializes in public narrative coaching and often works to prepare clients for testimony in court. She brings the same passion and dedication she has as an organizer to every case. In her spare time, Nneka enjoys playing her guitar and watching 90s sitcoms.
Abel R. Cano is Founder and ED of The Arc of Change, a Boston-based training initiative focused on harnessing the power of community organizing practices as a transformative craft for leadership and social impact. Abel is Dominican-American, raised in Boston, Honolulu and Indianapolis. As a leadership trainer and coach, Abel’s passion is to ignite breakthroughs that empower a rising generation of social movement leaders.
Encountering the powerful force of family and faith sparked Abel’s desire to be part of something bigger than himself. In Abel’s years of leading trainings around the world, he has learned our capacity to achieve change is limitless when we stand united.
Abel first began organizing against youth violence in high school. He went on to become a first generation college graduate at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he led the largest Latinx student organization on campus, Casa Latina. After graduating, Abel joined the Obama Campaign as a staff Field Organizer for Greater Boston and statewide constituency groups in 2012. He went on to lead campaigns to successfully elect first time candidates of color to political office in Massachusetts as a Field Director.
After years of organizing, Abel Cano found himself teaching graduate courses on leadership alongside legendary organizer Marshall Ganz at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Over the past 10 years, Abel has organized in marginalized communities, co-founded a thriving arts nonprofit, served as Field Director on an electoral campaigns, trained and coached 1000’s of progressive leaders, and led 100’s of immersive workshops with the world’s leading universities and nonprofit organizations.
Jacob is a board member and senior trainer with the Leading Change Network. He grew up on Maui, Hawaii, where he learned the value of community at his family’s house, which served both as an informal gathering place for people of all walks of life and a synagogue for the island’s small Jewish population. Jacob first got involved with organizing as a student at Emory University, where he helped found the Emory Living Wage Coalition, through which students joined with the University’s service workers to organize for improved wages and working conditions. Upon graduating, he moved to Argentina where he learned the arts of political organizing and Spanish while working at a local NGO.
When he returned to the United States, he joined the labor movement, organizing healthcare workers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Jacob then received his Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government in 2009, where he was a teaching fellow with Prof. Marshall Ganz and Ronald Heifetz, helping to teach courses on organizing and leadership. Since graduating he has been teaching and learning about organizing alongside leaders in the immigrant rights, climate change, labor, public education, and health/human rights movements.
Kortni Malone is a community organizer and trainer, hailing from Detroit, MI. She has spent the past ten years fighting for the liberation of Black people in Michigan and across the country. A teacher by trade, Kortni left the school system in Detroit to seek new ways to build power with her community. She has worked in non-profit as well as at the intersection of issue advocacy and electoral strategy with organizations like Color of Change, NextGen America, and Elizabeth Warren for President.
Throughout her career, Kortni has trained hundreds of folks from professionals in the organizing world to volunteers and community members—cultivating leadership and building power to fight for change. Currently she is the Director of Leadership Development at Coworker.org, a laboratory for working people to experiment with power building strategies and win meaningful changes in the 21st century economy. She believes that everyday folks, with the vision, the preparation, and a good plan, have the power they need to get the change they seek.
Anita Krishnan is an educator, writer, and musician, ultimately on a quest to help people better connect with themselves so they can better connect with others. She grew up in Australia, Singapore, and the United States and deeply believes in the power of people, culture, and stories to make change.
Anita is a narrative coach and leadership trainer. She designs and facilitates workshops on values-based leadership, storytelling, learning, strategy, and communication, and coaches leaders from a variety of sectors in the U.S., and internationally. Since 2016, she has worked with Marshall Ganz as a Teaching Fellow for his courses on Public Narrative and Community Organizing at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Prior to Harvard, Anita taught English to adult immigrants in New York and California, worked in rural community development as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, and sang her stories with a guitar in cafes and pubs in New York City.
Anita holds an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology (Harvard University), an M.A. in Intercultural Linguistics & TESOL (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey), and a B.A. in Journalism & Linguistics from New York University.
Miya brings a decade of experience working in public health in the U.S. and globally. She is currently an Associate Director at FSG, a nonprofit firm that partners with organizations working to advance social change. Her work at FSG has centered on multi sector collaboration and foundation strategy development, with a particular focus on advancing physical and behavioral health equity for marginalized communities.
Before FSG, Miya taught Public Narrative with Professor Marshall Ganz at the Harvard Kennedy School and worked with students on grassroots organizing efforts, such as organizing with hotel workers to secure their rights to fair labor conditions. She continues to coach and organize with community organizers and leaders across the country. Miya was the Leadership Development Coordinator for the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM) organizing fellowship in 2021 and was a coach for the inaugural year of the program in 2020.
Previously, Miya worked in Washington, D.C. as a political appointee for the Obama Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services and as a White House Associate in the Office of the Vice President. She also worked as a Supply Chain Analyst for Partners in Health in rural Rwanda, where she helped improve the management and distribution of essential medicines and medical supplies, worked to improve care for premature babies, and streamlined services at an HIV clinic for youth.
Miya received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology-Behavioral Neuroscience from Yale University and her Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida and feels at home anywhere by the ocean.
Nicole Robinson, MSW/MPH/PhD, currently conducts evaluation through NNR Evaluation, Planning, & Research LLC, a values-based social justice entity that helps build the evaluative power of organizations serving communities of color and other constituencies. Her current philosophical approach continues to emerge, but at its core, evaluation is engaged from a liberation and social justice standpoint. This approach is feminist, emancipatory, and values multiple ways of knowing. It seeks to understand the program as both a response to inequality and unjust systems, and a forward vision by documenting the program’s contributions toward a fair and just society. NNR Evaluation, Planning, & Research LLC is recognized by the Annie Casey Foundation’s ACE Network. Ms. Robinson recently completed her doctorate in social work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studying recidivism and place, of which climate change played a major role in re-entry. Nicole has been an evaluator for the past 17 years, conducting numerous program evaluations for organizers, funders, and policy groups in many styles (e.g., participatory, developmental, feminist, culturally responsive) and formats (e.g., cross-sectional, qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods).
From South Central, Los Angeles, representing his home neighborhood of Watts, Kenneth Cole is a community organizer, trainer, coach, and hip-hop artist, who has dedicated himself to civic engagement, direct services, and political advocacy for social justice outcomes to impact positive change for underrepresented communities. As a recipient of the Posse Foundation Scholarship, Kenneth earned his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at UW-Madison, where he got his start as an organizer on campus with United Council of UW-Students. There, Kenneth organized to help secure resources for underserved students, including a Black Cultural Center and $1.2 million towards mental health services for students of color.
Since then, Kenneth has served in many community-based and youth development capacities, including the organizing, designing, and facilitating of programing with the Urban League of Greater Madison, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and the My Brother’s Keeper Program of Madison. Because of his involvement within the campus of UW-Madison, the greater city of Madison, Dane County and the state of Wisconsin, Kenneth was recognized with the Madison/Dane County Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award in January of 2020.
After this Kenneth moved back home to Los Angeles, where he continued building towards positive social change. Working with Catalyst California (formerly known as Advancement Project California), Kenneth collaborated with students, parents, educators, community stakeholders, and lawmakers to uplift and implement education equity in California’s statewide policy agenda. No matter where he goes, it is his endeavor to continue being an engine for community empowerment in the movement for social and economic justice. When he’s not working towards this, you might catch Kenneth performing on hip-hop stages under his artist name, K. Sankofa. Be sure to check out all of his music on your major platforms @K.Sankofa!
what participants say
what participants say
what participants say
We were looking for a training approach that would allow us to focus on our core values and provide a foundation in organizing based on developing lasting relationships among the people in our communities who care most about public schools. The Wild trainings have exceeded expectations—our teams are learning the basics of effective organizing, they have used these practices to build stronger relationships further empowering our statewide advocacy network. Grassroots groups are taking the Wild framework back to their teams and customizing it to strengthen and grow their efforts. We have found the professionalism and dedication of the Wild training team to be inspiring and invaluable.
Heather DuBois Bourenane, Executive Director, WI Public Education Network
Wild changed my perception of the world. The training gave me the chance to share a space with those who have seen the worst and are using their experience to make the world better. This is the most inspirational and humbling experience I’ve had. It has changed my life for the better!
Tanisha Sabhaney, UW-Madison Student Alumni
The Wild Project has made a major impact on the way I approach organizing. Since my involvement, I’ve been able to train dozens of native leaders, learn new skills, and enhance the Native Vote program. I’m excited to see how we build a stronger Wisconsin together.
Matt Dannenberg, Former Program Director, WI League of Conservation Voters
We applied these powerful organizing tools to our culture and the tragic situation we faced in Wausau, WI. We built relationships across the Hmong and white communities, formed a team, strategized and organized one of the largest public gatherings of Hmong people in our city’s history. On May 31, 2016—1,000 people stood in solidarity against bullying!
Mao Khang, First Woman Elected, Hmong 18 Council of WI
Wild helped me understand the power of our personal stories. As a researcher and advocate focused on standing up for children and achieving equity, the power of narratives (both individual and collective), the personal connections they create, and their use in organizing more effective coalitions, have made me a more effective agent of change.
Ken Taylor, Former Executive Director, Kids Forward
The Wild training has proven to be one of the most diversely attended, nurturing, challenging, and human-honoring community organizing trainings I have attended over my 30-year journey in social justice.
Tammy Rivera, Executive Director, Southside Organizing Center
We have intentionally engaged a diverse spectrum of communities, including African American and Latinx leaders, the Hmong community, Native American tribes, small family farmers, high school and college students, and neighborhood organizations and groups working to impact education, health care, racial equity, economic justice, mass incarceration, and the environment.