Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




Critical leadership, andragogy, harm reduction, non-profit organizational change, social work leadership


The social service sector provides services to the communities they are a part of. In an environment where resources are scarce and the needs of the community are high, the sector is in a constant struggle to do more with less. This is especially true within youth and harm reduction services. The social service agencies also grapple internally, as neoliberal discourses permeate the management of community services. The social service agency within this Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) houses a program that provides harm reduction services to youth over a large geographical urban and suburban landscape. The program is experiencing a lack of uniform service delivery, as the counsellors struggle to balance service provision with measures of resistance against the neoliberal forces impacting the social service sector. The author proposes that enhancing the critical learning culture within the program will create a shared vision within the team, to allow for a balance of uniform service delivery alongside supporting the activist ethos within the program. A plan within this OIP has been developed that is founded on a critical-team leadership model created by the author. The critical-team leadership model offers a social justice lens that is emancipatory and participatory for workers and community members alike. The leadership approach guides the proposed plan through a theory of change based on Freirean principles of critical andragogy. Throughout the OIP, the dialectical nature of the problem of practice is explored through rigorous analysis of the organization using tools such as the Organizational Development for Social Change (ODSC) framework, the critical-team leadership approach, and a Freirean change model, that focus on producing change through critical andragogy within the program.