Watts Leadership Institute

Watts Leadership Institute

An initiative of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, the Watts Leadership Institute (WLI) uses an innovative cohort-based model to develop and promote capacity building among community-based organizations and leaders in Watts.

Nourishing Community-Based Leadership

Watts Leadership Institute

UCLA social welfare professor Jorja Leap and project partner Karrah Lompa founded and oversee the Watts Leadership Institute, an initiative of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. In recognition of the Watts community as a hub for nonprofits and community-based leaders, the WLI was created to provide active, ongoing support and education around capacity building, specifically focusing on fundraising diversification and strategy, board leadership, and organizational technical assistance. In this way, WLI works to maximize the impact that community leaders and organizations can have in this historic community.

The Watts Leadership Institute is currently working alongside a cohort of six organizations. The goal of the Institute is to train leaders in the initial cohort so they can pass along their knowledge and skills to a new cohort of organizations from within the Watts community.  

The inaugural cohort members and organizations include:  
Elder Michael Cummings (We Care Outreach Ministries)
John Jones, III (East Side Riders Bike Club)
Amada Valle (Watts Community Leader)
Kathy Wooten (Loving Hands Community Care, Inc.)
Arturo Ybarra and Pahola Ybarra (Watts/Century Latino Organization)

GRoW Support


COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Response



Programmatic Support - Cohort Board Development


Programmatic Support - GRoW Community Garden

Event - WLI Dinner at the Annenberg Community Beach House

Event - Black Panther Screening at the Aero Theatre with American Cinematheque




Programmatic Support – GRoW Community Garden 

Watts Leadership Institute