The year was 1978, Jimmy Carter was in the White House. The Camp David Accords established a blueprint for peace in the Middle East. The first "test-tube baby" was born. Ultrasound was used for the first time. New York's Love Canal was declared a federal disaster area. An international oil crisis rocked Detroit and its leading industry as long lines stretched at the gas pumps.
Never before, it seemed, was there a greater need for leadership. The Detroit Regional Chamber (then known as the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce) stepped to the forefront that year by creating a pioneering program called Leadership Detroit. Its mission was to nurture each year a new crop of transformational leaders, fully prepared to meet the demands of a sharply divided metropolitan area that had yet to define itself as a singular region and view its diversity as a strength, rather than a weakness.
Three decades and 1,800 graduates later, Leadership Detroit is still educating, encouraging and challenging the leaders whose vision and passion could define our region for decades to come.
Leadership Detroit was among the first of its kind in the nation and served as the inspiration for establishing both Leadership Oakland and Leadership Macomb. Its mission, then as now, is to provide the foundation for a lifelong commitment to community leadership by creating awareness of key issues that affect the Detroit Region.
Each year, a diverse group of leaders from across of Southeast Michigan is chosen for the Leadership Detroit program. In the classroom setting and on site visits, they are immersed in high-priority issues such as economic development, education, race relations and arts and culture. Ten months later, these leaders emerge with a deeper appreciation for the diversity and gifts of their classmates, personal and professional relationships to draw on, and a heightened awareness of the tapestry of people and places that makes the Detroit Region a special place to live, work and play - and, yes, to fight for.
A key to Leadership Detroit's success over the years is its commitment to factual content and quality presentations from leaders who are on the "front line" in their respective fields. Our experience has shown that it is critical that participants get the facts from the people who make the decisions to gain an understanding of how leaders respond to budding opportunities and rapid change.
There is a high level of motivation among participants to honor and respond to what we have had the privilege to share. And so, consequently, they take action! In many cases in arenas where they have developed influence and where their leadership is proven and trusted. Some graduates don't stop there, however, they take it to the next level in search of a new plateau. They call on the support and wisdom of their classmates and alumni to reach a higher ground. The Leadership Detroit experience demonstrates that when knowledge is shared and trust is developed, true collaboration is established.
Since that first class graduated 30 years ago. Leadership Detroit has continued to nurture a long line of leaders who are serving our community, our region and our state with distinction. Our alumni roster is a truly a "who's who" of notable leaders.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the first Leadership Detroit class, we chose 10 of our graduates as "Sector Champions" in recognition of their outstanding leadership in their profession and service to their community. These champions were chosen to demonstrate the breadth and reach of the program over the past 30 years. These champions truly inspire us with their high level of commitment to our region.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Detroiter asked each Sector Champion to:
* Tell how Leadership Detroit helped them develop and strengthen their personal leadership abilities.
* Describe a particular point-an "Aha!" moment, if you will - in their LD experience when the concept of transformational leadership became clear to them.
* Explain how they have put into...