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:

Promote active and representative participation toward enabling all community members to meaningfully influence the decisions that affect their lives.

Engage community members in learning about and understanding community issues, and the economic, social, environmental, political, psychological, and other impacts associated with alternative courses of action.

Incorporate the diverse interests and cultures of the community in the community development process; and disengage from support of any effort that is likely to adversely affect the disadvantaged members of a community.

Work actively to enhance the leadership capacity of community members, leaders, and groups within the community.

Be open to using the full range of action strategies to work toward the long-term sustainability and well-being of the community.

An ad hoc committee was formed in 2021 to consider revisions to these principles of good practice in light of social, economic, and environmental changes to the community development context. The next iteration of deliberation will take place at the 2022 Virtual Conference. Please contact the CDS Board Secretary (secretary@CDSociety.org) for more information.


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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