In today’s fast changing, complex world, gaining hands-on experience is a critical part of professional and leadership development. Coro Pittsburgh offers five programs to enable young adults not yet settled in their careers to explore a variety of professional and leadership opportunities in Pittsburgh while conducting an individual strategic plan for their own growth as leaders. With southwestern Pennsylvania as the classroom and the cohort as the learning community, Coro participants learn how to affect change within systems by developing and mobilizing their own social networks to collaborate across existing boundaries of age, neighborhood, sector, race, etc.

Coro training methodology

The process of leadership involves both diagnosis and action[1]. Leaders are highly effective at diagnosing, and then intervening at leverage points in, systems in order to solve systemic problems. As actors in the very systems they are seeking to change, leaders must also be highly effective at diagnosing and intervening in themselves. In the midst of action, the leader has to be able to reflect on her own attitudes and behavior to better calibrate interventions into the complex dynamics of an organization or community. As illustrated in the figure below, the Coro training includes four main parts: self/system diagnosis and self/system intervention, with learning outcomes tied to each part.

Four-part learning model and behaviors

Awareness Workshops focus on diagnosing the self in order to clarify who you are, what matters most to you,  and the strengths from which to build your Individual Strategic Plan and Catalytic Group Project.

Civic Strategy Sessions focus on diagnosing the system by learning from subject matter experts (those with a stake in the issue) where the leverage points are to make change in the system.

Catalytic Projects are team-based interventions aimed at system leverage points, where a small amount of problem solving force will have the greatest affect on system behavior. Participants in the Fellows Program in Public Affairs fulfill short (8-week) catalytic projects in work placements with organizations in various sectors. Participants in the Public Allies program fulfill catalytic projects through community-based team service projects. Participants in the part-time Women in Leadership, Leaders in Learning and Neighborhood Leaders programs fulfill catalytic projects through intensive 9-month group initiatives to accelerate progress on challenges such as revitalizing urban neighborhoods, ensuring all kids graduate from high school prepared for life, and improving the status of women.

Mentoring, which fulfills the self-intervention part of the program, is essential for young leaders to develop confidence and competence in their work.  Mentors support participants in implementing an Individual Strategic Plan to consistently perform at their best. It is a symbiotic relationship aimed at growth, learning and career advancement for mentors and mentees. Mentoring is ongoing throughout the program. Coro connects participants with a network of mentors, often Coro alumni, who fulfill a variety of functions, including:

  • Helping participants take advantage of opportunities for professional development.
  • Coaching participants to see their strengths and navigate obstacles.
  • Protecting participants from negative career outcomes or damaging consequences in the community.
  • Creating opportunities for participants to demonstrate knowledge and talent.
  • Supporting participants in developing and implementing their catalytic projects.

[1] For more on the theory of diagnosis/action see Ronald Heifetz et al., The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Harvard 2009, p. 6.

Click HERE to listen to a 5 minute KQV Radio interview with CEO Greg Crowley on how Coro’s five programs prepare young adults to be ethical and effective leaders.


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