When the Leadership Louisville opening retreat kicked off on August 17th, it came at the end of a tumultuous week for our country. The horrific events in Charlottesville and the subsequent political discourse were fresh in everyone’s mind. The experience that we shared as a group of leaders over the next two days was exactly what I needed to feel optimistic and reinvigorated to help my community.
Leadership Louisville seeks to bring together diverse group of leaders with diverse ideas to solve our biggest challenges, but what I learned over the two days is that we share a common set of core beliefs. Those beliefs are that everyone has a responsibility not only for themselves but also for each other as a part of a community and that everyone respects and appreciates the individuals in our community for their differences and unique contributions to the greater good. I witnessed people practicing these beliefs during our retreat in the “getting to know each other” sessions, as we shared stories and laughs but also challenged each other’s thinking, and the following day in the social simulation experience we had together. That session required us to take on unique roles and identities that may have felt very foreign at first, then figure out how best to work together to overcome obstacles and achieve a shared objective. The experience left a lasting effect on me and my teammates – I know because we spent the hour-long drive back to Louisville talking all about it!
In the couple of weeks since that retreat, we have experienced more heartache as a country. We saw communities in Texas, Florida, and other places devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But we have also seen a tremendous outpouring of empathy and support. The depth of people’s caring for each other and their desire to belong to a community that represents something greater than themselves are powerful forces that overcome challenging circumstances, and I’m excited to see how our Leadership Louisville class will use them to help improve our city.