Leadership Cincinnati designs projects to strengthen region

Every year, Leadership Cincinnati develops projects that will benefit Greater Cincinnati—the charitable pharmacy at St. Vincent de Paul, Cincy Red Bike, Crayons to Computers and the Power Pack Program at Freestore Foodbank all began at Leadership Cincinnati. 
In its 38th year, Leadership Cincinnati is made up of people who are in senior management at both for-profit and nonprofit companies and organizations. As a class, they focus on what will help make the region stronger.
“We seek to have a diversified class each year, and have a mix of people who come from many different backgrounds,” says Dan Hurley, who is in his seventh year as director of Leadership Cincinnati. “The theme is bridging the gap—how do we identify, learn about, understand and strategize the gaps in the regional community.”
This year’s class has already participated in a number of things, from looking at the proposal for the governance structure of the airport to dealing with gaps in the justice system. Each member of the class went on a police ride-along, and saw interrogations and court cases.
“The experience is important,” Hurley says. “You can’t begin to come up with solutions until you’re willing to stand in the gap yourself.”
Leadership Cincinnati is the beginning of many projects, including Preschool Promise, which aims to provide quality care and education for preschool-age children. STRIVE is currently leading it, but was started at Leadership Cincinnati three years ago. Each project has to have an organization already formed that is willing to take it on and continue it beyond the initial startup phase.
Ozie Davis, executive director of the Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation and member of the current Leadership Cincinnati class, proposed that no matter the project, it uses Avondale as the focal point.
One group is looking at food security issues, another is addressing infant mortality. Davis’ group is working on rehabilitation options for St. Andrew’s Catholic church.
“It’s a collective impact,” Hurley says. “Some projects will work, some won’t. We’re not going to solve infant mortality, but we’re trying to find a niche where we can be helpful.”
Some projects also shift halfway through, when a group realizes their initial idea won’t work, but something else will. For example, Cincy Red Bike started out as a streetscape project in Over-the-Rhine. Group members began looking at what was going on in other cities, and although bike share wasn’t everywhere then, they decided it would work in Cincinnati.
“I love when people go in thinking they know what the answer is, and finding out it isn’t the best approach, and they pivot and make something else really work,” Hurley says.
If you’re interested in Leadership Cincinnati’s 10-month program, visit its website to learn more.

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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