The Community Development Society (CDS) is a nonprofit corporation established in 1969 to strengthen and advance community development policy, practice, learning, and research through educational and scientific means.

Provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among community developers

Advocate for and award excellence in advancing the common good through community development policy and practice and scholarship and research

Provide platforms for the dissemination of professional and scholarly works

Provide opportunities for dialogue and deliberation among CDS Members

View of the Field

CDS views community development as a profession that integrates and applies knowledge from many academic disciplines. CDS sees community development theory, research, teaching, policy, and practice as important and interdependent contributions to both public and private sectors.

Membership Composition

The CDS Membership is a broad and diverse network of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who share an interest in building and developing communities—socially, economically, and environmentally.

CDS Members represent a wide array of specializations: education, health care, social services, government, utilities, economic development, citizen groups, and more. Over eighty percent of CDS Members are located in the United States, with the remaining Members coming from nearly 32 different countries around the world.

Programs & Publications

CDS provides leadership to policymakers, practitioners, and scholars across the spectrum of community development. Members have multiple opportunities to learn what’s new in the profession, to exchange ideas, to obtain the most current research and reference information available, and to share professional expertise.

Principles of Good Practice

CDS has established and embraces the following Principles of Good Practice for the field of community development:

Co-Learning. Engage in mutual learning and capacity building among professionals and community members through reflective practice, experiential knowledge, professional development, and scholarship.

Collaboration. Bridge boundaries of place, sector, discipline, identity, and interest to integrate diverse perspectives and resources in shared decision-making and co-creation.

Community-Driven Practice. Center those most directly impacted in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of community initiatives, policies, programs, and research that affect their lives.

Community Power. Respect the ability of community members to develop and sustain a strong self-image, create shared power, and think and do for themselves.

Dignity within Diversity. Practice and foster cultural humility, nonjudgmental listening, and accountability for any harm done.

Economic Autonomy. Strengthen local ownership and stewardship of community assets and wealth building opportunities.

Social Justice. Identify, resist, and dismantle systems of oppression experienced by both historically marginalized groups and emerging social identities.

Sustainability. Practice and foster careful deliberation of the cultural, social, economic, and environmental impacts of actions and inactions over time.


The CDS Board of Directors is a Member-elected body composed of five Officers (the Executive Committee) and six Directors charged with fiduciary responsibility for the organization and responsiveness to the Membership. The Board meets regularly through virtual meetings that are open to CDS Members and annually with the entire membership in a business meeting during the CDS conference. The Board of Directors is actively engaged in organizational governance as well as policy implementation through committees and working groups open to Members.

Corporate Documents

As a nonprofit corporation, CDS is guided by its originating Constitution, its current Articles of Incorporation, and its Bylaws. Feel free to review these guiding documents.

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