"Think Global, Act Local" Resource Site For Sonoma County

Leadership Institute For Ecology and the Economy

The Leadership Institute For Ecology and the Economy



Educating leaders to create public policy that is environmentally friendly, socially equitable, and economically viable for a sustainable community.


Founded in 2000, the Leadership Institute is a 501(c)3 public charity based in Sonoma County and dedicated to ensuring a sustainable future for California’s North Coast. Their mission is to train people to be more effective leaders, and to educate community leaders and the public to understand that the future of our economy and quality of life are dependent on each other. The Institute is active throughout the year, providing education, training, and networking opportunities for community leaders. They have four main program areas:

  • Leadership Training for a Sustainable Future
  • Policy-Maker Outreach
  • Community Education
  • Leadership Networking


Sustainability recognizes that the planet’s resources are finite, and that if we want to be responsible stewards of the earth, we have to use those resources wisely, so they last indefinitely. To act responsibly in this regard, we must look beyond our day to day lives. We must examine the impacts of our actions in a broader context. We must demonstrate leadership to our friends and neighbors, and embrace ecological sustainability as a continual process of improvement.


Existing laws, regulations, and economic policy make it costly and difficult to live a sustainable lifestyle. There is a growing consensus that government must make it easier to protect our natural environment, foster social equity, and support a prosperous local economy. Most elected and appointed officials want to do the right thing – they need encouragement, education, and support. The political will to change will come from a grassroots movement, not from city hall.


Leadership for a Sustainable Future is a dynamic, interdisciplinary learning experience that teaches participants to identify and prioritize ecological, economic, and social equity interests when creating or analyzing public policies that will help assure an optimum quality of life for future generations. The classes provide a comprehensive curriculum covering sustainability issues, government structure, local public policy and other related topics. This seminar-style course is held once a month from August through May and educates and inspires current and future leaders by means of: presentations by national, regional and local experts, panel discussions, field trips, hands-on exercises and a group leadership project.

Participants deepen their understanding of key public policy issues and opportunities while gaining a clearer vision for a more just and sustainable future. They also connect with other concerned leaders, receive an extensive range of resources, and develop the skills, tools, and networks needed to become more effective policymakers and community leaders.

Leadership for a Sustainable Future is an active, applied educational experience, engaging participants in a dynamic process designed to support local leaders in creating public policy that is environmentally friendly, socially equitable and economically viable for the establishment of a sustainable community.

Topics Include:

  • Principles of Sustainability
  • Social Equity
  • Food Systems
  • Water
  • Health
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Waste
  • Community Planning
  • Housing
  • Land Use
  • Transportation
  • Business and Economy
  • Jobs and Living Wage
  • Public Policy
  • Leadership for Sustainable Communities

Upon acceptance into the education program students also join the Fellows Network which provides continuing education, leadership support and networking opportunities for our nearly 400 graduates. For more information about this program CLICK HERE.

If you have questions about the program, please contact the Leadership Institute at (707) 578-9133, or email Suzi O’Rear, Training Program Director, at: suziorear@ecoleader.org