Executive Director, Senior Fellow
JOSH LEONARD is Executive Director of the Institute for Cultural Evolution. He believes that solving all the other problems we face as a society—climate change, widening economic inequity, and mounting health crises—depends first on our ability to transcend (and include) the expanding polarization fueling our culture war and political strife. Leonard’s personal journey as an integral thought leader, and his professional journey as a non-profit executive positions him perfectly to grow ICE’s capacity to address this most important challenge/opportunity of our time.
Leonard was first exposed to integral theory when he read A Brief History of Everything, by Ken Wilber in 1996. Since then, integral/developmental philosophy and application has been the dominant framework for both his personal and professional life. He was an early member of Integral Naked and Integral Life, and has taken courses on Integral Life Practice with Jonathan Gustin, Mike Murphy, and George Leonard. Integral theory has been the core framework around which he wrote both his graduate thesis, and a recent research-based position paper he wrote for the YMCA of the USA Leadership Symposium entitled Building Social Capital In The Age of Social Media. This paper demonstrated ways that community-based organizations could counteract the increasing cultural polarization in our society, and was awarded Best Position Paper for the 2019 cohort. Leonard has deeply studied many facets of integral/developmental theory and its application over the last two decades. He has dedicated his life to personal and cultural development using the integral/developmental framework. It is the organizing principle Leonard uses to both make sense of and impact on the world. Like many integral thinkers, including those at ICE, he has invested significant time and energy in the last several years to exploring how the integral worldview might help us escape the dangerous cultural/political polarization we are currently experiencing.
In addition to Leonard’s many years of thought leadership in integral theory and practice, developmental studies, and polarity theory, he brings 22 years of non-profit operational management, including 10 years of non-profit executive leadership, with the YMCA to this role. He has designed, led, and evaluated programs; managed large facility development projects; supervised large, diverse staff teams; managed complex multi-million dollar budgets; written successful grants; developed high-performing boards; raised millions of dollars of contributed revenue; and generated millions of dollars of earned revenue. Leonard is a strategic leader who is adept at shaping teams and organizations to achieve goals for impact. He has put high-level organizational design into practice by implementing Robert Kegan’s Deliberately Developmental Organization model, and designing and leading the strategic planning process for the YMCA of San Francisco. He has experience leading large communication projects, website upgrades, and social media campaigns, and is skilled in communicating through “highest common denominator” values that engage and inspire a diverse audience. Leonard thrives leading groups, and has facilitated brainstorming sessions, workshops, and trainings for small and large audiences.
Leonard lives in Oakland, California with his wife Jessica, and his new son, Jaylen. They look forward to the elimination of the Covid-19 health pandemic so they can begin to travel again and so Jaylen can get to know his extended family better. Like many of us, they look forward to a day when our political and cultural differences can become a renewed source of strength and growth for our communities and our nation.