by John McShane, Community Programs Director
PLC Community Programs recently started a new partnership with Ivy Tech Community College. We called the initiative, “The Ivy Tech New Leaders Academy.” This half-day learning experience combined the values of the Butler Way with the community leadership and peace building aspects of PLC. The goal of the project was to partner with Ivy Tech and other community leaders in the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of a half day workshop/seminar for a select group of first or second-year students. The Ivy Tech New Leaders Academy provided learning, skill development, networking, and career planning opportunities for participants. Through help and support from PLC and Ivy Tech, the workshop was provided free of charge.
The target population for the workshop included Ivy Tech students from two particular groups. Each group has been identified as facing unique challenges in securing educational and career development opportunities. Workshop participants included:
- Bowen Scholars: Students in a scholarship fund supporting African-Americans who attend or plan to attend Ivy Tech Community College. Participants must be a U.S. citizen, have completed at least 6 college-level credits at the time of application, and are residents of Marion County.
- Nina Scholars Program: Students provided a scholarship award to assist with the student’s cost of attendance at Ivy Tech Community College. The Nina Scholars Program provides financial support toward the cost of attendance for up to four years at Ivy Tech including books, fees, and a small living allowance.
Formal and final program design was completed in collaboration with Ivy Tech program manager, Cheri Bush. Program objectives included:
- Discuss and demonstrate strategies for creating your own values based leadership philosophy. Values discussed include passion, thankfulness, humility, servanthood, accountability, and unity.
- Write and present to others you own values based personal mission statement.
- Affirm and implement your own professional networking strategy (Who do you need to meet to help with your plan? What do you want to learn from them?)
- Discuss and evaluate specific community challenges for new leaders (diversity, income, crime, etc.)
Learning about the students and their academic and career paths led us to reach out to a select group of Indianapolis leaders. Student interest in business, law enforcement, social justice, and philanthropy led us to:
- Rick Hite, Executive Director, Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Former Chief, IMPD
- Martha Hoover, Owner, President of Patachou Inc., Founder and President of The Patachou Foundation
- Marianne Glick, Chairman, Eugene & Marilyn Glick Family Foundation
Speakers were asked to tell their own stories and discuss how their own value constructs had helped them along their own successful ways. Each was also encouraged to take questions from the audience.
My first exposure to the students was joyful. Several came in early while I was preparing the room and every one of them introduced themselves. Most asked if I needed a hand with anything. I had several helpers setting up the refreshment tables, passing out handouts, and happily greeting fellow students and alumni. Something about this group felt special; there was a buzz in the room, a positive vibe.
I facilitated an open conversation on the meanings of unity, passion, humility, servanthood, thankfulness, and accountability. I asked the participants to find clues of those values in what the guest speakers would be saying. After each guest presentation, students were asked to identify where the speakers had touched on or referred to the values posted around the room. In each case, students were able to see where speakers had referred to humility, passion, and all the other values. A sophisticated level of dialogue and questions followed. The students were truly engaged.
Rick Hite spoke passionately about our community and the challenges we face. “You can’t arrest your way out of a problem,” he shared. His key point was one of our shared responsibilities for social change. It’s not just the police responsible for crime. It is, he said, “mothers and fathers, pastors and neighbors, teachers and bank tellers. It’s all of us.” He asked each student what was most important to us in our lives and students gave responses like faith, family, friends, justice, etc. He then asked us all what it would feel like to have any one or more of those things taken away from us. Rick then explained that this is how some of our fellow citizens feel – like they have no control over things they love being taken away from them, a sense of social helplessness. Empathy emerged.
Martha Hoover talked about being a young lawyer and following her passion into a new career. She discussed the struggles as a young woman in a predominantly male business environment and how her own values drove her success. She then told the story of how, after extraordinary business success, she created the Patachou Foundation, a non-profit organization providing healthy meals to hundreds of Indianapolis children each week. She talked about unity, passion, and servanthood. She demands accountability in her staffs. She answered questions afterward and offered to have lunch with interested culinary career minded students at one of her restaurants.
Marianne Glick put the students to work! In a card sort exercise, the students had to organize their top three personal values. She then walked them through a process in which they created a mission and vision statement based on those values. A mission statement, Marianne told us, “should be no longer than a single sentence, is easily understood by a 12-year-old, and can be recited by memory at any time.” Each student created and shared their own value statements with their peers.
The workshop ended with a short summary of what we had learned. I shared the story and a quote from Robert Kennedy’s April 4, 1968, Indianapolis speech. This was the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It is one of my favorites. Rick had alluded to the speech and its importance earlier in the day. It closes:
“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
The participants inspired me and continue to do so. They have overcome many challenges and are working hard to move forward in their academic work towards their future endeavors. I wanted to create something that might help them along in their journeys. I wanted to make a difference in some way. Turns out, we made a difference together!
The work continues. As a result of the success of the New Leaders Academy. PLC has contracted to continue working with the Bowen and Nina scholars. We will be facilitating hour long leadership development mini-workshops monthly throughout the 2016/2017 school year. We have already started planning for our schedule through the 2017/2018 school year! The participants are already helping to create goals and objectives for their future work. They are owning their own learning!
We all owe a huge debt of thanks to Marianne Glick, Martha Hoover, and Rich Hite. Their passion and care for our community were both inspiring and contagious. The students are talking about you still! And lastly, a big thanks to Cheri Bush. She has become a mentor, a colleague, and a friend as we have worked together. The Bowen and Nina scholars are in kind and caring hands.
PLC can create a custom leadership experience for you and your community or organization. Just give me a call at 317-327-7144 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can collaborate to create something fun and meaningful for your team. I am looking forward to it! The work continues.