In a trip to New York City last month, our 2018 Next Generation Leaders (NGLs) began the latest phase in building their Leadership Action Plans by examining leadership in practice through examples of municipal, community, business, political and international leadership in a highly complex metropolitan environment. The group tested its leadership concepts and plans with a diverse group of speakers, including:
• Former Chief of Staff to legendary City Mayor Ed Koch, Diane Coffey
• International trouble shooter and senior diplomat Ambassador Frank Wisner
• 9/11 NYC Fire Department Commissioner Tom Von Essen
• Former Director of the NYC Housing Authority and community activist Rasmia Kirmani-Frye
• Wall Street financial icon Peter Solomon
• International shipping magnate George Logothetis
• CEO of the multi-cultural public relations firm Gravity Media Yuriy Boykiv
These speakers engaged NGLs in spirited discussions of business success, business ethics and the future of work. Other topics included multinational teambuilding, authenticity in leadership, building community to affect systems-level change and the importance of having impact at all levels of personal and organizational leadership.
Our cohort was humbled by the courage and dedication of Save Our Streets, a community action organization that stops inner city violence in the South Bronx. Activist residents discussed their innovative approach to combatting violence, which involves using a public health problem lens to understand and prevent the spread of violent acts. NGLs also examined the role schools play in community building and ending cycles of poverty through a visit to a school in Long Island City where AmeriCorps-supported non-governmental organization City Year helps to develop students by serving and living in their communities.
Arizona State University’s Director of the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation Dr. Robert Ashcraft broadened and deepened NGL understanding of leadership impact by design and sophisticated gathering of resources. NGLs had the opportunity to debate how nonprofit organizations achieve major impact on pressing social issues. Dr. Ashcraft recalled a powerful call to leadership action coined by former tennis legend Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Leveraging not only the city’s people, but also its history, our cohort engaged on site with places of tremendous hope and unspeakable tragedy – Ellis Island and the National September 11 Memorial. Both examples of America’s Leadership Action Plan (LAP) highlighted the optimism, courage and resilience of character-driven leadership.
During two days of intensive coaching, each NGL presented his/her updated Leadership Action Plan and was afforded the opportunity to sharpen the plan’s focus and prepare for implementation. With guidance for the next version of their LAPs and a preview of the next training module in Arizona focused on change leadership and innovation, our cohort members returned to their placement sites thoughtful, inspired and with a new awareness of the depth of their commitment to serving causes greater than themselves.