Guest Editor – Jon Brown (LT 31)

Jon_Brown-cropI was born and raised in this community; a Tallahassee and Leon County boy, through and through. I proudly attended Bond Elementary, Florida High, and Florida A&M University. Purposefully, this is home for me. And, with the added access and exposure of having worked in Communications with Leon County Government, I pretty much thought I knew our community in and out. Or, so I thought. My Leadership Tallahassee (LT) experience, Class XXX (“The Hottest Class Ever”), not only produced some wonderful and super-talented professional colleagues, but also some life-long friends.

In my class, 37 strong, we had a doctor, lawyers, a chemical engineer, a head of school, realtors, a theater lead, a beer man, a minister, and a public relations maven; just to name a few. Since then, together, we’ve witnessed the birth of babies (including twins and a Henry IV; straight royalty), we’ve fought cancer (and won; yes, Lord!), we’ve been named to state boards, we’ve been appointed as a county administrator, and we’ve acquired new components of business in outside markets resulting in multiple millions of dollars.

My Leadership Tallahassee experience has simply been transformational. For someone that thought they knew a ton about my community, LT has provided a door into so much more; places I have never been, leaders that I have never met, and a warm, welcomed guide to opportunities that assist in making this special place better.

With that, I’m proud to announce #TheRelaunch of Opportunity Tallahassee (OT) with the day-long program taking place on Thursday, October 22, 2015. If you’re not familiar with OT, take components of a LT year-long experience – like Government Day, Arts & Culture Day, Education Day, Healthcare Day, Human Services Day, Sustainability Day, and, one of my favorites, Public Service Day – and compress it into one full, action-packed, “Wow, I never knew that”, behind-the-scenes expansive tour into and intimate touch on our community; what makes it move and the people who help it do so smoothly.

In the coming weeks, you’ll see and hear from some of our OT alum; graduates and community leaders like Opal McKinney-Williams, Attorney and Shareholder at Ausley McMullen; Christopher Heacox, Director of Opening Nights; and Betsy Couch, Executive Director of Knight Creative Communities Institute (KCCI). This is Opportunity Tallahassee. This is what you can and should expect.

The exciting and challenging parts about this opportunity are this, in plain language:

  • OT has been on the shelf since 2012. Leadership Tallahassee Chair Kim Smiley asked me to lead a team focused on breathing life back into the program and to… “Make. It. Big.” Hold onto your seats, folks. This should be fun.
  • There are only 36 slots available. Yep; first-come, first-served. I wish I was kidding. I’m not.
  • While early-bird rates of $275 for Chamber members and $325 for non-Chamber members will be offered, that window will only be open approximately two (2) weeks and will end on Thursday, October 1 at 11:59 p.m. Again, not kidding.
  • The Edison will host us for lunch and I can promise you, you have never seen Cascades Park from this stunning, elevated vantage point. Wow. And, hard to believe, but the amazing views could become secondary to the delicious experience Executive Chef John Minas has planned for your palate, our visit, and guided tour.
  • The Doubletree and Tri-Eagle Sales are partnering with us to create an end-of-day reception to destroy the memory of all previous receptions. Sure, it will start as a nice early evening activity, but there will be a built-in after party. We’re working to basically make you rethink your Friday work schedule up front.
  • Other community partners already on board are the Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee Downtown, KIA AutoSport, Centennial Bank and Access Tallahassee.
  • Did you read the point above about Kim giving me clearance to make it big? So, yeah. Huge.

Online registration opens on Wednesday, September 16. If you have never been a part of the Opportunity Tallahassee or Leadership Tallahassee experience, you should consider registering for the 2015 OT Class. If you have, please pass along this message and tell a friend or a colleague. Help us spread the good word about this wonderful upcoming, unique opportunity.

About the Author – Jon D. Brown

Jon is the Little Cheese of LT30, “Smoked Chedda”, and a community servant. More importantly, he is the blessed husband of Letitia and the proud father of Gabriel Jon (8), Gavin Legend (6), and Brooks Henry (10 months and into everything; yikes!). In his spare time, which is limited, Jon stresses out Ms. Boone. :-)

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