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Why We’ve Launched the
Just Transition Leadership Program

In the face of the climate crisis, the call for action has never been more urgent. Washington State’s communities of color, low-income communities, and Indigenous peoples—often referred to in state law as “overburdened communities”—are disproportionately feeling the impacts of environmental degradation and increased exposure to harmful pollutants. The urgency of the time calls for affected communities to step into new leadership roles and spearhead essential Just Transition initiatives at every level of government and community organizing.

In response to this pressing need, Front and Centered is proud to announce the launch of the Just Transition Leadership Program. This initiative aims to equip community leaders with the skills and knowledge needed to drive systemic change and advance a Just Transition across the state.

From Collective Leadership...

At the heart of this new program is a dedication to fostering community-centered leadership. For frontline communities, we often find ourselves in spaces where our ideas and voices might not be fully heard. Especially in our early or mid-career stages, it seems that we are told more about what to do since we might still be learning and acquiring skills. However, leadership depends on the context, and in many cultures, it’s a skill that brings together community members, rather than an individual achievement.

This leadership program focuses on collective leadership that transcends individual spaces and fosters ways to engage meaningfully with people to advance common goals—in this case, a Just Transition. For this type of transition to happen, we do not need leaders only in the workplace, but also in every home and every community; someone who can inspire positive change and who is open to continual learning; someone who aspires to take a seat at the decision-making table in their organization, community, city or town, county, or even state.

...To Collective Action

What sets this program apart from many other leadership experiences is its emphasis on collaboration and collective action. By bringing together a cohort of passionate individuals, we aim to create a network of leaders who can inspire, support, and empower one another. Through strategic collective action, participants will learn how to leverage their skills and resources to drive meaningful change at the local, regional, and even national levels.

Frontline lived experience must guide this crucial change-making work. As new grant opportunities arise and new environmental justice jobs are created, we must equip frontline leaders with the policies, cultural understanding, and personal connections for them to survive and thrive in these new spaces.

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How Our Leadership Program Works

Participants will engage in nine months of intensive training, learning essential skills such as community organizing, intercultural communication, and grassroots leadership. Through experiential learning modules, site visits, and peer mentoring, participants will gain the tools and support needed to affect positive change in their communities and beyond.

All participants will receive a stipend for their active participation. The program will cover all travel and lodging expenses for in-person activities, including site visits across Washington State to further facilitate participation. Emergency funding is also available to address any potential barriers to participation, ensuring that the program is truly inclusive. By removing financial barriers, we hope to make the Just Transition Leadership Program accessible to as many community leaders as possible.

Indeed, this program is designed to center the voices and experiences of historically disenfranchised communities. By exploring the intersection between social, environmental, and climate justice, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the systemic barriers facing marginalized groups—and how to dismantle them.

As we confront the challenges of the climate crisis, it is clear that bold and visionary leadership is needed. Through the Just Transition Leadership Program, Front and Centered is empowering communities to take the lead in shaping a more just and equitable future for all. Together, we can build a truly transformative movement—one that puts people and the planet first.