LEAD California and Saint Mary’s College of California are collaborating with the National Equity Project to bring their Introduction to Liberatory Design Workshop to the community engagement community. This three-hour interactive event is being held via zoom and features the mindsets and modes of Liberatory Design.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022
10am to 1pm Pacific Time

Join us for a high quality professional development opportunity – designed to support your community engagement work!

Questions? Contact Jennifer Pigza, (


Registration is open for the October 4, 2022, Introduction to Liberatory Design Workshop.

Registration is $75/person for LEAD California members (and Saint Mary’s colleagues) and $100/person for all others. Register now and we’ll send a payment link later.

Limited “seating” is available so don’t wait to register!



Liberatory Design is an approach to addressing equity challenges and change efforts in complex systems. It is grounded in an integrated part of NEP’s Leading for Equity Framework, which meshes human-centered design (aka design thinking) with complex systems theory, and deep equity practice. It is a process and practice to:

  • Create designs that help interrupt inequity and increase opportunity for those most impacted by oppression
  • Transform power by shifting the relationships between those who hold power to design and those impacted by these designs
  • Generate critical learning and increased agency for those involved in the design work

Liberatory Design is both a flexible process that can be used by teams and a set of equity leadership habits that can be practiced daily. It can be used in a variety of ways and by a variety of actors, including innovation efforts, strategic planning, community-driven design, and collaborative teams. At the core of Liberatory Design are a set of beliefs:

  • Racism and inequity have been designed into systems and thus can be redesigned;
  • Designing for equity requires the meaningful participation of those impacted by inequity; and
  • Equity-driven designs require equity and complexity informed processes.


We are all living in challenging times that our past experience and training has not sufficiently prepared us for. Too often, well intentioned equity efforts do not succeed—and even produce unintended consequences. This can lead to frustration, hopelessness and cynicism.

It’s important to consider why so many equity efforts stall or fail to achieve intended outcomes:

  • They do not employ a deep enough equity lens—for example, a diversity and inclusion focus as opposed to interrogating deeper causes produced by systemic oppression.
  • They take the form of traditional linear, hierarchical plans that focus on strategies, goals, timelines, metrics and accountability. These efforts don’t recognize the messiness and complexity of the challenge, so they often are ineffective and, sometimes, even backfire.
  • They are created in the context of dominant white culture, in traditional structures (e.g. committees, task forces), or in teams that don’t have an effective approach to the work. Common problems include:
    • group members unable to engage in authentic critical dialogue;
    • lack of trust, especially across role/power and identity difference, that undermines team efficacy;
    • the process doesn’t bring forward sufficiently creative thinking;
    • urgency leads to hasty, misguided decisions;
    • creative and potentially powerful solutions are not accepted by leadership.


Representatives from LEAD California member institutions and Saint Mary’s Colleagues: $75/person  
Click here to see list of current members.

Representatives from Non-LEAD California member institutions: $100/person

The National Equity Project is a leadership and systems change organization committed to increasing the capacity of people to achieve thriving, self-determining, educated, and just communities. Our mission is to transform the experiences, outcomes, and life options for children and families who have been historically underserved by our institutions and systems.  


LEAD California and Dominican University of California Center for Community Engagement’s Service-Learning Program partnered to offer the faculty development workshop series, “Critical and Asset-Based Community-Engaged Learning Pedagogy and Practices.” 

This workshop was designed for faculty who were new to Service-Learning pedagogy, and/or wished to deepen their critical Service-Learning practices.

Workshop participants were immersed in effective practices in critical and asset-based community engagement. Synchronous zoom sessions and asynchronous modules grounded participants in community-engaged teaching and learning that identified and addressed oppressive structures while uplifting community strengths. 

Participants gained insight into designing classes that center and fully integrate community engagement into the curriculum. This included the process of backward design–planning their course and curriculum to address intentional learning outcomes that center community voice and knowledge as well as students’ lived experiences.

As a recipient of the 2022 Campus Compact Institutional Transformation Award, Dominican University of California has been a pioneer in embedding Service-Learning courses across its general education curriculum, as well as growing a robust cohort of Social Justice major and Community Action and Social Change minor students.