Change beckons Justice Center

By Todd Cohen

The N.C. Justice Center, a leading advocate for social progress, needs to look hard at its leadership, and the time is ripe.

From its legal-services roots, the center has become a champion for the poor, focusing on litigation, lobbying and research on issues like immigration, affordable housing, the minimum wage and access to health care.

But the center also has lacked strategic focus and not filled the role it can play in building partnerships needed to fix flawed public policies that keep the poor from helping themselves.

In a state that faces urgent social problems but lacks leaders with the vision and will to attack those problems at their roots, the center can fill a critical gap.

While leadership transitions are never easy, the resignation of its executive director gives the Justice Center a chance to decide what it wants to be and do.

To become the statewide leader it ought to be, its board and donors must be brutally honest in assessing what the organization needs in an executive director, and whether current board members are up to the task.

The Justice Center will be a leader only with a board that is willing and able to lead.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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