Engaging nontraditional voices requires some planning within the organization as well as within the community. Leadership development may be needed in order to provide skill and awareness building to enhance the success of the partnership. Building leadership is a deliberate process. Even though many of your current group members may have work experience and post high school education to draw from, some nontraditional voices may not; their contributions to the group come from their personal experiences within your system. Although they may not present as polished as other group members, they have an equal contribution to make to your discussions and decisions.
Leaders are invested in the outcomes of their involvement. Involving nontraditional voices early on in a process and in sharing leadership responsibilities may foster greater buy-in from the representatives in your group. Authentic participants and partnerships may evolve from independent to interdependent, taking on a more collaborative nature. Further, building leadership among underrepresented groups will help them speak up and take initiative, ensuring their voices and perspectives are heard beyond the specific initiative for which they have been recruited.