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Pepperdine | School of Public Policy
Project for Cross Sector Leadership Panel

Project for Cross Sector Leadership

SPP's Project for Cross Sector Leadership Supports Leaders Across the Government, Business, and Nonprofit Sectors

Reclaiming an American Form of Public Leadership:

In their important book on public leadership, The Solution Revolution, government consultants Bill Eggers and Paul MacMillan note that America is undergoing a tectonic change in how it responds to public policy challenges—"a shift from a government-dominated model to one in which government is just one player among many." Into this new dynamic Eggers and MacMillan add, "social impact becomes a form of currency with real value to millions—from foundations to governments to venture philanthropists to individual citizens."

On policy issues ranging from child social services to disaster preparedness, there is an increasing awareness by leaders in the business, government, and non-profit sectors that sustainably effective solutions will be found only through creative relationships between the sectors. As cross sector experts Jeanne Becker and David B. Smith wrote recently in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, "With the rise in complex, interdependent, and emergent challenges, effective change to secure a brighter future will require transformative, collaborative leaders who can effectively lead cross-sector collaborations."

This renewed focus on responding to complex public policy challenges through multi-sector partnerships can be seen as a modern way of deal with modern problems. But viewed historically, what we're witnessing is a reawakening of a genuinely American public leadership skill. In the country's first decades, foreign observers from the legendary Frenchman, Alexis De Tocqueville to hundreds of others less well-known marveled at the American capacity to solve problems through inventive "associations".

It's fair to call the past century in public policy research and education the "Era of Expertise", where experts, siloed in their particular organizations proposed policy solutions with little to no engagement between sectors, nor with much broader public involvement. In a recent essay for the academic journal, Public Administration Review, researchers Robert F. Durant and Susannah Bruns Ali allowed, "Large segments of mainstream public administration scholarship...privilege bureaucratic expertise" over the participation of residents and other sectors. Unfortunately, America's graduate schools of public policy can be seen as part of the problem.

The Project for Cross Sector Leadership is an academic "hub" for this uniquely American form of public leadership, playing three roles:

1. Educator/Trainer: Through classwork offered to current students here at Pepperdine (across the schools), and executive education-style programs (including the Fellows' program), we seek to prepare cross sector leaders.
2. Networker/Matchmaker: From the relationships started on Monday through longstanding relationships begun in the Fellows' program, we will be a gathering place for people doing this work, as we also seek to become a "matchmaker" - connecting great consultants and practitioners with those "newbies" looking for support. This may also take the form of an "Advisory Council" to the Project.
3. Promoter: Through a new website, we will be profiling great cross sector work to audiences (especially in state/local gov't) who are just learning about the ways in which cross sector leaders are responding to major public policy challenges.

The Project for Cross Sector Leadership is made possible by the generous support of Gary Oakland.