April 2023 eNews Guest Editor, Rob Gelhardt (LT 40)

I am very happy to be afforded the opportunity to share what being in Leadership Tallahassee has meant to me. My experience in LT Class 40 has been life-changing in ways that I could have never expected when I set out on this path.

The LT 40 (aka #Fierce40) class is made up of some amazing people with varying personal and professional backgrounds. The commonality between us is that when we come together, we have very heartfelt and powerfully intense conversations about what it means to be human in our community.

Those who live in Tallahassee will have differing views based on the length of time living here, the area of town they live in, the schools their kids go to or the job they have. Being around my diverse group of classmates, attending the program days and having deep conversations about what the program days meant to us has, for me, brought into perspective the big picture of what Tallahassee is, from differing points of view.

Before LT, I had my own lane. I grew up here and have lived here for most of my life. I have a great group of friends. My parents and sisters family live here. I stayed secluded to my comfort zone. This class has given me interactions with people who I would have otherwise never been able to get to know on the level that I do now. A situation which resonated with me throughout the year was from one of the first days, when someone told us to stay quiet and feel the energy in the room, to compare it to the first day of kindergarten. The excitement of new unknown people, of the events to come. That feeling hadn’t left me and was reintroduced every program day before we set off on that day’s adventure. The LT 40 class instantly became my close friends and throughout the year we grew into a family. I feel that, now and forever, I can rely on them if I have an issue, they give me a shoulder to lean on if I am down, who I will be responsible for if they ask for my help. They are all VIPs in my contact list, favorites in my emails. I pay extra attention to them.

After this year, I am no longer moving through life with tunnel vision, on my own ride, in my own lane. I feel like now I am part of everything that is Tallahassee. I can see all the wonderful and challenging things that Tallahassee has for us all. As I move through town I see signs that I recognize, organizations with meaning, places with a purpose.

I also wanted to take some of my letter to thank the team behind it all. The governing body behind the organization, which is Leadership Tallahassee, is amazing. All the wonderful directors and committee members planning the activities have the system locked in. A long time ago someone figured out the recipe to bring people together and lift them into an understanding about holistic problems and positive organizations in our community and these team members execute it very well. Thank you, Barbara, Lili, and Beth! You are awesome.

Rising Tides Raise All Ships!