Leadership Practices for Place-Based Community Engagement Initiatives

Erica K. Yamamura, Kent Koth


Place-based community engagement (PBCE) is a contemporary form of community engagement gaining popularity throughout the United States. PBCE provides a comprehensive strategy for universities and communities to more democratically partner with each other through long-term efforts focused on distinct geographic areas. Drawing from one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and observational data, this research examined the leadership at five institutions currently engaged in PBCE. In particular, this research involved an analysis of the leadership role of community engagement professionals within a framework of the five elements of PBCE (Yamamura & Koth, 2018). Findings revealed three leadership competency areas for community engagement professionals: (1) Managing geographies of place and space, (2) actualizing a 50/50 approach to community and university impact, and (3) leading with multicultural competency and inclusion. The findings illuminate the need for stronger training and development in these areas, especially for institutions that seek to start a PBCE initiative.

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