Children’s Defense Fund

Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of Children’s Defense Fund is a leader who has fought for the rights of many disadvantaged children in America for a long time. She is a leader who is seen to embrace collaboration with other people and organizations which are willing to make a difference in the lives of children who face poverty, disability, racial discrimination and neglect. Her attributes demonstrate boldness, commitment, diligence and good organizational skills which have led to the organization producing wonderful results in its agenda.

Her background has shaped her into a person who is devoted towards rendering service to other people and being the voice of many children who need assistance. She has advocated for greater parental care and protection of children as well as the prevention of youth pregnancy. Her ability to lobby for legislation for child programs and to manage resources backed by a staff of lawyers, policy experts, professionals in community relations and experienced researchers has propelled Children’s Defense Fund to greater heights. Table of Contents Abstract 2 Table of Contents 3 1.

0 Introduction 4 2. 0 Bibliography of Marian Wright Edelman 5 3. 0 Contributions of Edelman to Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and the American society 6 4. 0 Instances that have demostrated her as a successful leader 7 5. 0 Leadership attributes of Marian Wright Edelman 8 6. 0 Transformational theory to explain the success behind her leadership attributes 9 7. 0 Strengths and weaknesses of Mrs. Edelman as a leader 10 8. 0 General ethical issues in her leadership 10 9. 0 Recommendations to improve her leadership 11 10. 0 A plan of action to implement the recommendations 11

11. 0 Conclusion 12 References 13 1. 0 Introduction The Children’s Defense Fund is a private and national nonprofit organization which was founded as a culmination of civil rights movement that took place in the 1950s and 1960s (faqs. org, 2008). It is dedicated to improving the lives of children faced with different social difficulties. Following its establishment in 1973, it underwent dramatic growth to become a powerful advocacy agency whose mandate revolved around ensuring the welfare of children who were facing various social risks and poverty.

Its founder is Marion Wright Edelman whose leadership and management skills spurred the organization to become even more effective than the U. S. Children’s Bureau. CDF has annual budget of about $9 million which it utilizes in lobbying for legislators and for facilitating public campaigns on issues of the family, law and society (answers. com, 2010). Its main area of interest has been to fight for federal welfare programs as part of its main agenda in assisting children who have been affected by poverty and this has been accompanied by tremendous success especially in Washington, D. C.

Its staff comprise of lawyers, researchers, professionals in community relations and policy experts. A good example of such success came in the 1980s when its lobbying efforts led to billions of dollars being saved in funding cuts that had been proposed while in the 1990s, the close ties that it had established with President Bill Clinton administration led to a new federal legislation thus propelling its influence even further (answers. com, 2010). In addition to its many activities, its another major function is to issue well researched reports with regard to the health, economic, and social well being of children in the United States.

Its tremendous success as a non profit organization can be attributed to the excellent leadership of its founder and director Marian Wright Edelman who is also a civil rights attorney. She was one of the people who fought racial discrimination in the 1960s and she first attracted national attention when she prevented African Americans from being denied money from the federal Head Start Program in Mississippi (answers. com, 2010). She then started an advocacy group in late 1960 which was called Washington Research Project and whose main area of interest was law against discrimination.

She later renamed the organization in 1973 and made issues of children its primary focus (answerscom, 2010). Her good leadership style has helped to build wide corporate sponsorship in the organization which has grown to include big organizations such as Coca-Cola and American Express. With this background, this paper will give a descriptive analysis of the leadership processes and outcomes of CDF leadership under its founder and president Marian Wright Edelman. 2. 0 Bibliography of Marian Wright Edelman Mrs.

Edelman is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School where she graduated in 1963 before beginning her career in the mid 1960s (childrensdefense. org, 2010). After graduating from Yale Law School she became the first African American woman to be admitted to Mississippi bar. Her first post-academic career kicked off by first working for the blacks in Mississippi when she worked on a voter-registration project before finding a job in New York with NAACP Legal Defense Fund and then transferred to Mississippi.

She moved to Washington in 1968 as part of the counsel for campaign for poor people and this was a campaign movement that Martin Luther started organizing before his death. She later founded the parent body of Children’s Defense Fund that is Washington Research Project and which is an interest law firm. Before starting the CDF in 1973, she worked for two years at Harvard University in the position of the Director for Law and Education (childrensdefense. org, 2010). At Spelman College, Mrs.

Edelman chaired the Board of Trustees between 1976 and 1987 besides being the first woman to be elected a member of the Yale University Corporation by alumni a position which she served from 1971 to 1977 (childrensdefenseorg, 2010). She has received quite a number of awards and honorary degrees. Some of the awards include the Heinz Award and Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize. She has also received the nation’s highest civilian award which is the President Medal of Freedom and also the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award in relation to her many writings.

At the Robin Hood Foundation, Association to Benefit Children and at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Marian Wright is a board member. She is also a member in a number of other organizations including the American Psychological Society and the Selection Committee of the Profiles in Courage Award of the John F. Kennedy Library. She is married to Peter Edelman who is a Professor at Georgetown Law School (childrensdefense. org, 2010). 3. 0 Contributions of Edelman to Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and the American society Mrs.

Edelman has served in the organization to provide a voice to the American children particularly those who have faced poverty, disability and those who have been discriminated against as a minority. Throughout the time CDF has existed, she has made sure that it is adequately funded using private funds so as to keep it independent that is it does not rely on government funding. She has helped the organization to stand on its feet from the time it was established as she has consistently served as its president and the principal spokesperson.

She is known for having persuaded the Congress to ensure that children who have faced social problems such as being neglected by their parents, homelessness, or disability are adequately protected and their needs met by supporting adoption and creating an environment that encourages foster care (absoluteastronomy. com, 2010). The organization under her leadership has functioned effectively in advocating for children’s issues as well as conducting research and documenting the problems and possible solutions with regard to these issues.

She has continually led the way in advocating for the prevention of youth pregnancy and advocacy for prenatal care, improved responsibilities of parents in cultivating values and preventing the children from being exposed to the violent images being portrayed by the media. She has also pushed for more children funding toward child care. Among the many programs that are run by CDF are the CDF freedom schools which have brought massive improvement in the attitude and school performance of many children in American society.

These schools use a model curriculum which endeavors in supporting children and families around several essential components. These are social action and civic engagement, physical and mental health, nutrition, enrichment in the quality of academics, leadership development that is intergenerational, and family and parental involvement (childrensdefense. org, Creating Change: CDF Freedom Schools, 2010). 4. 0 Instances that have demonstrated her as a successful leader Under the leadership of Mrs.

Edelman, the organization has been consistent in fighting for federal welfare programs which have a direct benefit to poor children and this has been met with a lot of success. Edelman has also succeded in establishing close ties with various national leaders such as Bill Clinton in the 1990s resulting in an enhanced influence of the organization in matters of federal legislation. A good example of such a children’s welfare legislation is the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which is considered the biggest expansion of health care programs which were publicly funded since 1965 when Medicaid and Medicare were passed.

One major contribution of this legislation is the reduction of the number of children who were uninsured in the United States. In addition, she had pushed for increased comprehensiveness and modification of public welfare legislation and one major culmination of her efforts is the passage of the Leave No Children Behind Program (Kronenfeld & Kronenfeld, 2004). Mrs. Edelman has also initiated a lot of pressure on various presidential administrations such as those of Jimmy Carter and George H. W Bush every time she noted that budgets on social spending were being threatened.

For instance, CDF at one time attacked cuts that had been imposed on social spending regarding the move as callous and greed-motivated. In such an influence during the Reagan era, CDF under the leadership of Mrs. Edelman lobbied for the Congress to spare about $2. 5 billion in cuts (answers. com, 2010). Such examples demonstrate that the leadership of Mrs. Edelman in CDF is not only influential but also has brought much success in the endeavors of the organization. 5. 0 Leadership attributes of Marian Wright Edelman Mrs.

Edelman exercised visionary leadership in her struggle for the welfare of all the disadvantaged children in the American society. She is seen to perform her work with insight, imagination and boldness. Such boldness is demonstrated when she pushed for various legislations by the government to fully support the needs of the poor, disabled and the minority children. She is also known for challenging various administrations including that of Reagan and George W. H Bush every time the spending on social issues was threatened terming such steps as being led by selfishness.

Such criticism from her has many a times bore fruits which has further propelled the support given to her advocacy agency both by private companies and the federal government. Her visionary leadership is seen in her ability to act as a social innovator and an agent of change in as far as the welfare of the children is concerned. Her actions demonstrate her ability to think strategically and see the bigger picture in her efforts to serve the good of the whole society. Mrs. Edelman leadership style can be said to be said to be collaborative as she engaged all the stakeholders who shared in her broader vision of transforming the society.

For instance, she sought support and worked in collaboration with communities and families through the Leave No Children Behind program in an effort to give every child a Safe Start, a Moral Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, and a Healthy Start in life and a passage into adulthood that is successful (Edelman & Jones, 2004). At the same time, she demonstrated a good example to others in leading the winds of change and fighting for the rights of those who had been neglected socially and economically.

In other words, she is seen as the voice of the many who could not be heard and therefore she was led by an insatiable desire to make America a better place and indeed her success cannot be doubted. 6. 0 Transformational theory to explain the success behind her leadership attributes One major characteristic and assumption of this leadership theory is that the inspiration which the followers get emanates from the leader who must demonstrate passion about his or her leadership.

Through showing this passion and diligence, the leader is able to trigger an aspect of enthusiasim in the followers or supporters who consequently gather the energy needed to accomplish the tasks that lie ahead. Put in other words, the leader has the responsibility of encouraging different groups of people and eventually make them potential followers who endeavor in sharing in the vision of the leader (Wolinski, 2010). This is demonstrated in the leadership of CDF by Mrs. Edelman who gained a lot of support not only from private institutions but also from the federal government.

Transformational leadership is also dominated by the element of collaboration. This is one of the pillars of her success. For example, under her leadership, CDF supporters through peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins assisted in convincing the secretaries of education, health and welfare that there was great importance in preventing discrimination in issues of public funds distribution. By engaging other organizations who were willing to cooperate, CDF pushed for the enactment of various regulations geared towards giving all the disabled children equal rights.

This paved way for about a million disabled children accessing education in public schools (Ray, n. d). Transformational leadership is also characterised by intellectual stimulation which means that the leader must encourage the followers to be innovative and creative in devising possible solutions to problems. Mrs. Edelman led researchers and other staff of CDF in coming up with excellent solutions to the social challenges faced by many children in America and these were incredibly successful. 7.

0 Strengths and weaknesses of Mrs. Edelman as a leader The visionary leadership of Mrs. Edelman is seen to be attached to several strengths that she possessed. Firstly, her ability to mobilise resources in terms of human resources and finances is incredible. She is also seen to be committed to her vision and exercises collaborative leadership so as to realise this vision. Her ability to lobby for support even from national leaders such as President Clinton facilitated the success of CDF a great deal.

Her persistence and courage is demonstrated in her long struggle for children’s welfare which was a continuation of her fight for equal rights for all as a civil rights activists. Her strength is also as a result of being backed by a staff that is intelligent, committed and aggressive in addressing the pertinent issue of children welfare. However, she did not emphasize adequately on having a rapid and specialised scientific advisory machinery in CDF and therefore some scientific problems in children possibly were never tackled.

8. 0 General ethical issues in her leadership Her engagement in protecting the future generation from neglect, abuse and discrimination shows her commitment to propagate a sense of hope and moral responsibility. For instance she strongly advocated for the prevention of youth pregnancy and for enhanced prenatal care, improved responsibilities of parents in cultivating good moral values and preventing the children from being exposed to the violent images being portrayed by the media.

Her struggle revolves around social and economic justice for the disadvantaged in society. She believed that if one does not like the state of the world, then one has the obligation to change the situation by making the right choices and decisions. Her strong sense of service for others is captured in her words and deeds as she quested for economic, social and political rights and justice even in her childhood. 9. 0 Recommendations to improve her leadership

Her struggle appears to be mostly with regard to children’s welfare and therefore is not necessarily all inclusive that is it fails to incorporate even the welfare of other people who need assistance and quick attention such as adults who are challenged by unemployment, disability and inability to access education opportunities as a result of financial crisis. Therefore, her leadership would be made even better by considering similar challenges which are faced by a different groups such as the youths, women, and the disabled.

10. 0 A plan of action to implement the recommendations To achieve this scope of mandate, the agency can mobilise resources, create and register another agency whose parent agency would become CDF. This new agency will have a new staff and responsibilities that are different from those of CDF in that it will advocate for the rights of adult citizens who in one way or the other are not able to access important opportunities such as employment, education and other social amenities.

However, this agency will work hand in hand with the government and its work will be basically to assess the social needs of specific groups of people such as youths, women and the disabled and then make recommendations to the federal government on the channels through which such people can be assisted. Alternatively, CDF can change its identity and then expand its mandate to include these issues by lobbying for greater support. 11. 0 Conclusion Children’s Defense Fund under the leadership of Mrs.

Edelman has contributed greatly to the welfare of most children in the American society by mobilising resources and lobbying for various legislations that have made it achieve the great success. Mrs. Edelman’s exemplary and collaborative leadership has been the backbone of the organization’s success. She has demonstrated courage, dilligence, persistence and commitment to the worthy course of seeking political, social and economic welfare of disadvantaged children and her skills in management of resources is something to admire. References absoluteastronomy. com. (2010). Marian Wright Edelman.

Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www. absoluteastronomy. com/topics/Marian_Wright_Edelman answers. com. (2010). Children’s Defense Fund. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www. answers. com/topic/children-s-defense-fund childrensdefense. org. (2010). Creating Change: CDF Freedom Schools. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www. childrensdefense. org/ childrensdefense. org. (2010). Marian Wright Edelman. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www. childrensdefense. org/about-us/leadership-staff/marian-wright-edelman/ Edelman, M. W. , & Jones, J. M. (2004). Separate and Unequal: America’s Children, Race, and Poverty.

The Future of Children, 14(2), 134+ faqs. org. (2008). Children’s Defense Fund. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www. faqs. org/childhood/Ch-Co/Children-s-Defense-Fund. html Kronenfeld, M. R. , & Kronenfeld, J. J. (2004). Healthcare reform in America: a reference handbook. New York: ABC-CLIO. Ray, M. E. (n. d). Children’s Defense Fund. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://learningtogive. org/papers/paper143. html Wolinski, S. (2010). What is Transformational Leadership? Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://managementhelp. org/blogs/leadership/2010/06/03/what-is-transformational-leadership/