By Trudy Fitzsimmons & Craig Rider
This concept of developing leaders from all groups in a community certainly influenced Dianne Parker’s thinking. Dianne Parker was Executive Director of Leadership Huntington. We must say Dianne is a serious, intelligent business entrepreneur with a love of nature and art. She also has an earnest interest in people and all their cultural diversity.
Over the last 20 years, we have developed a great appreciation of how she crafted the Leadership Program and what she brought to it. One of her most important tenets being diversity of class member’s may lead you to ask, "Why?"
The answer is because it is important to bring people together so they may learn from each other and cross economic, cultural, gender, and educational lines. Many class members have expressed revelations and new understanding of other people and their circumstances while they were in the diversity rich environment of Leadership Huntington. Libby Hubbard, past Chamber Foundation President, commented that the class mix leads to a broader view of the community.
People have at times had an opinion that only those in positions of authority or higher status should go through the program. Those opinions ring hollow in my experience. That limiting concept would hamper the effect of experiential leadership. Many Leadership Huntington graduates have gone on to help build organizations and create non- profits that benefit many folks.
Larry Kushnick, Esq. Class of '97, God rest his soul, said Leadership Huntington gave him the confidence to start his own law practice. He also helped get many local organizations started. Another young woman found her own voice and advanced in her family’s business because she now had the confidence to articulate her own worth. She, too, became instrumental to many positive community endeavors. Sometimes, the impact is very personal, which is good because community leadership starts at home. One gentleman in my class remarked, after going through temperament exercises, that he now understood why his wife was so different. Awe, clarification and understanding.
The notion that leaders can be developed, who as a direct result transform communities to be stronger and more effective, is a concept derived from the exploration, experiences and observations of community organizations like the Chamber Foundation and that group of committed individuals. To quote Ken Christensen, past Chamber Foundation member, "everywhere he goes there is a Leadership Huntington grad involved."
This is very good. Community leadership is critical to building effective, inclusive communities which work for all citizens. It is hard to imagine an effective community which isn’t full of committed, engaged, involved and evolving volunteer leaders, servant leaders, and community trustees.
Change is everywhere. Communities change, issues change, circumstances change, demographics change. Leadership programs must change, too. The program that seems to work today won’t tomorrow. Community education isn’t enough. We must endeavor in an ongoing fashion to equip leaders with skills and processes that will serve them when and wherever they encounter a leadership challenge.
One class a year isn’t enough to create leaderful communities. One format does not fit all. We encourage all with experience and insight to think of yourselves as leadership development arms of your community, and of all the implications for change that concept implies.
Diversity is very important concept, and not an easy one to accomplish, but it makes such a rich learning environment. We have separated ourselves so much over the years we have missed the richness of diversity. One can only hope we may work toward that concept for a rich future.
We hope you can take away some bits of wisdom from the idea of diversity and the concepts that are suggested. Stay tuned, Chapter 5 is next!
Thanks for reading.
Trudy & Craig