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Risk-taking a sign of leadership

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Thank you for your honest assessment in your editorial: “Leadership critical for social progress”, [04.19.06].

We are trapped in a system where everyone knows the truth, few dare speak, and those who do get banished.

In policing, education and the nonprofit universe, silence is rewarded.

The head of the pilot’s union told the September 11 commission that it was an open secret how bad airport security was. And those professionals did not have the courage to lose their jobs, and protect our lives.

At the Kennedy School at Harvard, a paper is being taught on philanthropic buzzwords.

Presumably at least some people of means accumulated their fortunes through intelligence and hard work.

What is desperately needed is a similar investment in ground level nonprofit leaders who are reformers, risk-takers, and can give hell to our third-world, self-congratulating system.

Practically, this means that we are disappointed with the likes of the Soros foundation, with their change of emphasis to advocacy.

So much money is now poured to high -evel advocacy, evaluation and research.

Liberal funders resemble, with their elegant funding choices, the conservative elites that openly starved our cities and our most needy.

Funders should seek occasionally outspoken leaders, and ponder whether risk-taking might be as much a measure of excellence as is a well-written proposal.

Teny O. Gross, executive director, The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, Providence, R.I.

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