It was a dark and stormy night in April of 2007 – or not, as I filled out my application for Leadership Tallahassee’s 25th anniversary class. I spoke about having just moved to Tallahassee in 2004 and all I had accomplished in that time – or so I thought. About three weeks later I got my politely worded rejection letter from Tony Carvajal (LT Affiliate and Past Chair of the LT Board of Governors). A wise woman told me then that you get into the class you were meant to be in – and when I reapplied and was accepted to class 28, I quickly found out that she was right; no offense Class 25, but Class 28 IS the best class ever – at least for me. The first thing I learned was how much I didn’t know. Through the small group activities and retreats I learned not only other perspectives but why individuals had those perspectives. I learned through the privilege walk how much I took for granted as a child. I learned at Public Safety day that I cannot hit the “perp” no matter how many clips I fire. Most importantly, I learned that first impressions are often wrong, and I learned that looking beyond them is a key to life, and I thank my classmates every day for looking past my “first impression.”
Now as things come full circle almost five years later, these are some of my closest friends. We still speak regularly, many of Class 28 graduates were program day chairs for Class 31, and remain connected through LT and other Chamber events and have developed business projects and friendships together that are ongoing.
Speaking of coming full circle – it is with great pride that I announce that the same Tony Carvajal who sent me my original letter will give the keynote address at this year’s Building Better Boards. I have the privilege of chairing a fabulous committee that includes Kathleen Brothers (LT 24), Sheila Horne (LT Affiliate), Cathy Jones (LT 24), Marcia Thornberry (LT 27) and Sophie Wacongne-Speer (LT 30). The event is scheduled for May 13th at 4:30pm at the TCC Center for Workforce Development and offers a comprehensive array of workshops for both beginning and long-standing board members. There are some new and innovative ideas for nonprofit success and management as well as some discussions that EVERY new board member needs to know. It will prove to be an educational and fun evening. Board service and qualified stewardship has never been at a greater premium, so get those board members signed up today! — Rob Renzi (LT 28)