I’m proud to say that I’ve completed the Pride Leadership program with the United Way of Central Ohio. The first of its kind, the program is designed to develop leadership skills to increase volunteer and board service opportunities for people in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual & Transgender) community. At graduation I received the honor of delivering our commencement speech prior to the delivery of our certificates. Here is my speech and some photos from the event:
Over 100 years ago, when Queen Victoria pressed Lord Salisbury to change he replied, “Change. Why Change? Things are bad enough already.”
This sentiment couldn’t be any more accurate in today’s challenging times. Yet, thirteen individuals made the commitment to explore what it is possible, to meet the challenge, to change our communities, and to change ourselves. The Pride Leadership program provided each of us with this opportunity. Today these thirteen individuals have completed that journey.
When I asked my colleagues to reflect on this program each one of them highlighted the program’s opportunity to learn. The workshops in Pride Leadership gave us the opportunity to actively participate, learn and share. There is also the opportunity for personal growth as participants are challenged to move beyond their thought position to accepting each other’s perspectives. Workshops cover topics ranging from financial management to diversity in the workplace. It’s not just the workshops that provided the opportunity for learning, Mackenzie told me that he came to Pride Leadership to learn about fundraising and non-profit management but he also discovered our group, our community, and our city.
Throughout the program there have been challenges, but we faced these hurdles with our commitment to the program and our commitment to each other. We utilized teamwork to arrive at success through workshops and our service project. This process was not always easy. We had to trust ourselves and each other. When I asked Sean about his experience in the program he said that although one community unites us, the gay community, Pride Leadership made him realize how different our opinions and views can be, which in turn, can be very beneficial for our local community here in Central Ohio. Every one of today’s graduates is in agreement that this program has raised the bar in our leadership skills and has set a path for us to do great things for non-profits in our community.
With the program drawing to a close each one of my colleague’s shared with me that the greatest outcome of the program has been the new friendships that we formed. Kelvin put best when he said, “Words cannot express my newfound friendships. I look forward to doing great things with my pride leadership family in the near future.”
And now it’s time for us to move on to our next journey. It’s time to summon our desire for change and find our next opportunity. I urge you to not spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity, that you miss the right opportunity. Know that you can create a positive impact in our community, and while it’s not about you, it begins with you. We all know that while we can’t fix every problem that plagues our community there are problems we can solve. We CAN take what we have learned in the last eight months and use this knowledge to help make a difference, an impact and yes, we can continue our commitment to change ourselves, to change our world.
To read more about my experience with the Pride Leadership program; click on the pride leadership link in the tag cloud.