The Institute for Compassionate Leadership serves to empower socially conscious, self-aware and compassionate leaders by educating aspiring change-makers in meditation, community organizing, and 21st century leadership skills built for today's workplace environment. We aim to make our practices accessible to all, so that more compassionate leaders will rise up to meet worldwide challenges and strive to shape a better and brighter future for our planet.


“We don’t have a lot of time…But in the same way that Alex left this indelible mark on my life and Michelle’s life, and many of your lives, you will leave an indelible mark as well, as long as you decide that you’re going to spend your life giving something back.”

President Barack Obama, January 23, 2013


The Institute for Compassionate Leadership was founded after the passing of Alex Okrent, a pioneer in creating social change through his ability to love and be compassionate. As Mark Leibovich wrote in his heart-felt New York Times article,


“Alex signed on early to the Obama cause, taking a semester off from Wesleyan University to work on Obama’s Senate run in 2004. He was among the first to join Obama’s presidential campaign in its barest days in 2007 and also threw himself into the re-election effort in 2012. He worked various jobs, bounced from state to state and offered a convivial presence that bridged the cliques that form inevitably in campaigns…He was demanding, fun and irreverent. And he was never shy about telling people that he loved them.”


The Institute of Compassionate Leadership was born out of the idea that the world needs more leaders like Alex. The institute is founded by one of Alex’s friends from college, Lodro Rinzler, who upon Alex’s passing dropped everything to carry on his friend’s work on the campaign trail in 2012.

After returning from his campaign work in the state of Ohio, Lodro met with a wide variety of compassionate leaders. A dialogue began about how to support people in getting inspired not just by the next political candidate but focused on an issue they care about for the rest of their lives. Minutes after the January 13th speech by President Obama quoted above, the idea for this institute arose in Lodro’s mind and he set to work making it a reality. 

The Institute began as a six-month leadership training program and we are proud that dozens of individuals have graduated from that program, transformed into more compassionate leaders who are doing the work they have longed to do. In order to make our curriculum as accessible as possible, the Executive Director and Board decided to bring the teachings online, and the revised version of this site was born.