As a social entrepreneur Saul Alinsky put himself at the center of much of the action of the organizations he helped build. He reveled in his growing prominence and the apprehension he inspired when he was invited into a community to begin work. Alinsky crafted his public persona to serve his growing notoriety which in turn increased his capacity to raise funds and gain the early respect of what he called the "have nots" in many communities around the country.
The generations of organizers inspired by Alinsky and informed by his organizational genius adopted a different way of doing business. IAF practice minimizes the public role of paid organizers relying instead on community leaders, volunteers, to speak for themselves and their own organizations. Unlike Alinsky, these organizers function deliberately behind the scenes viewing their role as teaching public skills and stirring latent hopes for change.
Upon Alinsky's death in 1972, Ed Chambers and Richard Harmon assumed responsibility for the Industrial Areas Foundation. These men professionalized the field of community organizing and sought to establish standards related to training, salaries, practices and values.
A succeeding generation of great organizers radically expanded the range and reach of modern IAF broad based organizations and took the work to new heights of impact. This generation, now transitioning out, includes Ernesto Cortes, Jr. and Michael Gecan - past Co-Directors of IAF - and Arnold Graf and Sr. Christine Stephens (now deceased). Their groundbreaking achievements in the field are endure.
Martin Trimble and Joe rubio have stepped up as IAF's new Co-Directors.