Community Engagement & Leadership (CEL) utilizes avenues of community engagement to support leadership development while strengthening communities; we advance community-engaged leadership. There are many ways to approach and think about leadership and community engagement. CEL's leadership approach is one that is community-engaged, equity-oriented, and centers inclusive, relational, strengths-based, and values-driven practices. 

CEL's work is shaped by our Beliefs About Leadership, Principles of Community Engagement, and our Leadership Identity Model. Learn more about these frameworks below. You can also learn about the Pathways of Public Service & Civic Engagement, a typology CEL uses for categorizing community engagement activities. 

We believe the work of community engagement and leadership enhance one another and belong in a symbiotic relationship. Community engagement is a required aspect of leadership for social change; intentional leadership practices sharpen and strengthen one's community engagement efforts. This diagram shows how we make the connection between community engagement and leadership!

There are many ways to define, think about, and approach leadership. CEL defines leadership as a process of influencing and advancing change for a more equitable world. CEL supports a community-engaged leadership framework. Our beliefs about leadership inform the ways we think, talk about, and practice leadership.


Community engagement, also called civic engagement, is not a term most people use regularly. However, most of us have experience with what community engagement is all about! Community engagement is active participation in your community and being invested in what happens in your community. It includes direct service, policy and governance, community organizing and activism, community-engaged learning and research, and social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility. Learn about the Pathways of Public Service & Civic Engagement

Principles for ethical and effective community engagement inform our practice. The principles (Reciprocity, Accountability, Preparation, Respect & Inclusion, Safety & Wellbeing, Reflection & Evaluation, and Humility) guide our work with students, community partners, staff, and faculty to inform program design and implementation as well as to ensure that our work aligns with our values. 

This work and these principles were adapted from the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University.


Leadership is about knowing, being, and doing. We must know ourselves and what we are working towards. We must be ethical, principled, authentic, open, caring, and inclusive. We must act on our commitments in socially responsible ways (Komives, Lucas, & McMahon, 2013). Fundamentally, leadership is about practicing our values and core beliefs in thought, feelings, and behaviors individually and collectively to take action on a shared purpose. 

Leadership is for everyone and CEL's Leadership Model supports all students in growing their leadership potential and capacity! 

CEL's Leadership Model allows students to learn more about themselves in four key areas (Values, Strengths, Social Positionality & Consciousness, and Social Causes & Pathways) while making commitments to how they want to be and act, or how they want to practice community-engaged leadership. Each area of the model encourages reflection upon the question: Who am I as a leader and what am I working towards? The model directly informs our workshops and influences all of our programs and services. 

Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (1998). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Our unit strives to ground our work in scholarship, theories, frameworks, and models that are culturally responsive and apply a critical lens to leadership development and community-engaged learning. This includes Culturally Relevant Leadership Learning (Bertrand Jones, Guthrie, & Osteen, 2016), Social Change Leadership Model (Astin & Astin), and the Social Action, Leadership, and Transformation (SALT) Model (Museus, Lee, Calhoun, Sánchez-Parkinson, & Ting, 2017). Below is a curated list of some of the core resources that inform our program design, service delivery, and daily work with students and community partners.