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Friday, December 2, 2022

Opinion: Solving complex issues begins with supporting community leaders

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By EBONY CHAPPEL

Navigating a world impacted by multiple challenges, new and old, has made the need for empathetic, informed and passionate community leadership ever more important.

Indianapolis, like other cities across the nation, has an opportunity now to consider what our collective identity will be in this “new normal” era. Time and time again, we’ve found the key ingredient to unlocking our shared success is the cultivation of community leaders.

And when we speak about leaders, we are not relegating it to a small, select few. We believe leadership is at its best when it’s multicultural, multigenerational and collaborative. In other words, we need everyone to be engaged in taking on the challenges of today and see them as opportunities for a better tomorrow.

Making space for these diverse leaders at the table and helping them promote positive change serves to sustain and elevate the organizations, initiatives and movements at the heart of our greater Indianapolis community. Solving the complex issues of our present time while imagining a more inclusive future requires that we expand our thinking.

At Leadership Indianapolis, we specialize in growing leaders from all walks of life. We help them translate their passions into action with experiences designed to build greater understanding of our community and develop collaborative leadership skills.

Recently, we hosted our highly anticipated Opportunity Indianapolis program. During this two-day crash course in civic engagement, participants visited eight venues and heard from 17 leaders representing 13 community-serving organizations. They learned about a range of issues including education, arts and culture, food insecurity, mass transit and healthcare. They also heard about ways they can get involved.

And we didn’t just talk about serving the community, we practiced it. At the end of our first day, participants visited Gleaners Food Bank where we packed and distributed nutritious meals to area residents. The next day, our group had the opportunity to support Indy Reads in its efforts to improve adult literacy rates by making High School Equivalency (HSE) packets for students to study ahead of graduation exams and some of us also delivered books to neighborhood libraries.

We also are excited to reintroduce our popular LEAD program in October after a COVID-19 hiatus. LEAD will provide an opportunity for community members to develop their collaborative leadership skills through interactive workshops, the exploration of case studies and discussions on various leadership topics from building a team and partnering with stakeholders. The program also serves as a connection point for emerging and established leaders in our community.

You can learn more about LEAD and register for the series on our website: LEAD – Leadership Indianapolis.

Programs like OI and LEAD, along with our flagship program of 45-plus years, the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series, not only serve to grow those who already feel confident in leading. They also serve to bridge the gap in just who sees themselves as a leader. For Indianapolis to prosper, we need leaders as diverse as the issues we’re solving. Focusing on educating, inspiring, connecting and mobilizing a variety of leaders gives us a way to a focus on ensuring all ideas are considered as we move ahead.Ebony Chappel is program and communications director at Leadership Indianapolis.

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