If you want to build the capacity of communities, organizations and policymakers to advance human rights, social justice and the well-being of all people, then the Organizational Leadership & Policy Practice concentration may be the right focus for your master’s degree in social work.

The Organizational Leadership & Policy Practice concentration prepares social workers for practice at community, organizational and societal levels. Community social workers use leadership skills to develop programs, administer organizations, build community coalitions, craft and analyze social policy, implement program and policy research, and advocate for policy and program change to support best practices for social services delivery. You’ll learn to work effectively in community-based settings and organizations that address a range of social problems and policy issues, including poverty, women’s rights, health care, homelessness and education.

professor jeff jenson

Your Career Options

Organizational Leadership & Policy Practice careers respond to social work’s ethical mandate to challenge social injustice and pursue social change by working to influence policies, programs, communities and systems that affect individual lives. Given the need for this work, the Council on Social Work Education has created a commission to advance this type of macro social work practice by 20 percent within the next two years. With an MSW concentration in Organizational Leadership & Policy Practice, your community social work career could include:

  • Leading the development of new programs
  • Managing organizations
  • Building community coalitions
  • Crafting and analyzing social policy
  • Community organizing for social change
  • Advocating for policy and program change
  • Implementing program and policy research

“The Latinx Certificate program strengthened my ability to work conscientiously and effectively with clients of Latin American origin — and by extension, to be more thoughtful about my work with people of many different nationalities and cultures.” 

Megan Hope, MSW ’11, Latinx Social Work Certificate ’11, Social Service Project Director, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network Read More
Megan Hope

Learn more about the curriculum in Organizational Leadership & Policy Practice.


Explore some of our field education locations with a focus on Organizational Leadership & Policy Practice

  • U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Diana Degette

    The district office of Congresswoman Diana Degette focuses on helping constituents resolve problems with federal agencies, community outreach, developing public events and working with constituency groups on issues related to business, education, health care, veterans and more. Interns learn about the inner workings of the federal government, attend community meetings, direct constituents to appropriate resources and assist congressional staff with projects. Interns also engage with federal, state and municipal agencies and leaders.

  • Bell Policy Center

    The Bell Policy Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses in-depth research and analysis to advocate for progressive public policies in Colorado. It identifies and promotes policies that help individuals and families, especially those in low-income or marginalized communities, to access opportunity and move toward self-sufficiency. Interns analyze the impact bills have on marginalized communities, publish policy briefs, interact with policymakers, participate in stakeholder meetings, testify in committee hearings and engage in community outreach.

  • The Merage Foundations

    The Merage Foundations are a consortium of grant-making and operating foundations whose philanthropic investments help to create societal change resulting in children, families and communities reaching their full potential. Interns learn about private grant-making foundations, private operating foundations, and nonprofit organizations. They also learn to work collaboratively across all foundation organizations and with community partners. Interns advance their knowledge in organizational structuring, leadership, operations and fund development.

  • One Colorado

    One Colorado is a statewide organization dedicated to securing and protecting equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Coloradans and their families. One Colorado has a strong commitment to social justice and uses an anti-oppression lens to do its work, which includes grassroots organizing and public policy advocacy. Interns work on electoral organizing and political advocacy, gaining experience in grassroots organizing, public policy advocacy, coalition building and voter mobilization.

  • FRESC, Good Jobs Strong Communities

    FRESC is a nonprofit organization that works to achieve lasting change for low- and moderate-income workers, their families and communities by uplifting and empowering working families and creating healthier, more equitable and sustainable communities through policies and agreements. Interns work on community and coalition organizing, policy research and policy advocacy at the municipal and regional government levels, focusing on issues that impact working families in the Denver area, particularly low-income people and people of color.

  • Project VOYCE

    Project VOYCE increases youth engagement, improves educational outcomes and creates pipelines for youth to influence policy change. Through leadership and advocacy training, Project VOYCE inspires young people to challenge systems of inequity by inserting their voice into educational policy with the vision that youth will be strategic partners in crafting systems. Interns represent and advocate for the organization’s position on legislation with members of Colorado’s General Assembly, governor’s office, executive branch cabinet members, agencies and stakeholders. Interns also lead the internal policy team process, track and report on state legislation, analyze policy and develop recommendations for action.

Key Faculty

Heather Renicker

Heather Christine Arnold-Renicker

Clinical Associate Professor; Equity Labs Curriculum Dir

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Shannon Sliva

Shannon Sliva

Associate Professor with Tenure

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Sophia Sarantakos

Sophia Sarantakos

Assistant Professor

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Application Information

Upcoming Early Application Deadline: Summer and Fall 2023 Denver Campus MSW Program and Denver Campus Advanced-Standing MSW Program