Identifying Refugee Leaders for CLE Programming

In the interest of identifying and growing leadership for community legal empowerment (CLE), community leaders are essential for the communication of information to and from communities. They represent and speak on behalf of refugee community members. Furthermore, they can play a crucial role in providing key legal information back to the community, particularly in the interest of informing, empowering, and strengthening their rights. Finding the right individual to work with you on your CLE program is essential to advance your goals. This section focuses on possible avenues to identify community leaders.

One way to identify refugee leaders is by tapping into relations you have built with refugees through other programs. Often, the refugee community members that have approached the organization – whether they are requesting support in advocacy or resource development – are the individuals ready to take action. Alternatively, these individuals can play a role to connect your organization to community networks and can connect the organization with other refugee leaders.

Individuals with natural leadership skills, including community organizers, people-people, social justice oriented, etc.- whether self identified or identified by others can also play a role in CLE activities. Depending on their experience, you may reach out to them for specific activities or capacity building initiatives.

There are also established community leaders who are trusted and valued by other community members and/or have been put in leadership positions by other community members. You may find these individuals leading refugee-led schools, religious groups or community based organizations. Because of their established position as a community leader, they may be effective in garnering support for a particular initiative within the community.

Basic interest and capacity, including time, is another simple characteristic to look out for. What individuals are seeking leadership and capacity building? Who has offered time to support their community? Who is already leading in community processes?