Leadership For the Long Haul in the City of Angels

Bobby and Blinky in DC


Leadership Foundations Global Office Administration

Leadership Foundations invests in leaders who create change.

By investing practical resources in leaders dedicated to addressing their communities’ greatest needs, cities do in fact get better. Bobby Arias and William “Blinky” Rodriguez refer to themselves as brothers from another mother.

Others have called them the yin to the other’s yang, Batman and Robin, and urban legends. Describe them any way you want, but two things are nonnegotiable: their love for each other and their love for their city. And after 30-plus years of working together in the same place, the greater Los Angeles area is better off because of it.

“Ultimately, being a member of
the LF network has strengthened
our work, and we are better able
to serve the city we love.”

Bobby Arias, coach, athletic director, and educator, is the President of Champions in Service, Leadership Foundation of the San Fernando Valley and Greater Los Angeles. Blinky Rodriguez, former kick boxing champion, coach, and motivational speaker, is the Executive Director.

With their team and partnerships that reach across the city, these heroic men have created a juggernaut that is taking on greater LA’s most pressing issues by providing life-changing services ranging from educational support and dropout prevention to job readiness and placement programs to overall community empowerment. But it is another area—gang intervention—where they have made their biggest impact and that hits closest to home.

In 1990, at a time when the greater Los Angeles area was infamous for gang activity, Blinky’s 17-year-old son, Sonny, was shot to death. Following this tragedy, Blinky and Bobby dedicated themselves to gang intervention. In 1993, they helped broker the Valley Unity Peace Treaty, a landmark accord that  dramatically reduced gang homicides and won international acclaim.

This work continued to mature, sparking a 20-year partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department that convenes a monthly meeting with police, city officials, and leaders from the fields of mental health, children services, the school district, and nonprofits that works to reduce violence and increase education and service delivery to the area’s most vulnerable populations. To further this work, they have trained over half of the LAPD in gang intervention strategies and tactics.

Investment in leaders like these two men is at the core of Leadership Foundations. Bobby and Blinky shared that resources like a peer coach—who has been in this work as long as they have—and the practical training to strengthen their board of directors has been hugely valuable.

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Celia Vigil

Communications Associate

What book, movie, quote, or tv show has most shaped your understanding of leadership or the city?   

A quote that has shaped my understanding of leadership and the city is, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

While the amount of work there is to do to transform cities is great, this quote reminds me that we are freed from having to complete it all, though our obligation to continue remains. We may never see a huge transformation in our lifetime. The work stretches far beyond us. However, this does not make our acts of faithfulness in the day to day less significant, no matter how small they may seem.