February 2022 eNews Guest Editor, Ana Ortega (LT 39)

I am so excited and honored to be able to share with you some of the experiences from LT Class 39 -#LT39 aka #TheBestClass aka #GOAT!

I felt so grateful to be selected the second time I applied for the LT program (never take the first no for an answer), and I couldn’t wait to learn more about what makes Tallahassee unique. I have a word limit that I have already exceeded, but here are a couple of my favorite program day experiences:

Education & Workforce Development Day – Having the hands-on experience wiring a lightbox with an electrician apprentice at Lively. Being a part of the jury and seeing up close the incredible students at Nims in the Law Academy.

Justice Day – Going behind the curtain – to the Robing Room – at the Supreme Court, meeting Chief Justice Canady and seeing the archives. Having the best lunch prepared by the ReFIRE group and Chef Rebekkah (look them up & hire for catering events!) Oh, the books in the archives.

Public Safety Day – The “Shoot or Don’t Shoot” simulation forever changed my understanding of the difficulty of making a decision quickly. I gained even greater empathy for our law enforcement officers. And the LSCO SWAT & TPD TAC teams’ demonstration was simply incredible – I will never forget it.

BUT the best thing has been getting to know my new LT 39 Family. Man, was I intimidated at hearing all the intros from my classmates when we first met. I knew from that moment that I was in the company of ROCKSTARS. This class has amazing caretakers, social justice crusaders, educators, connectors, defenders and upholders of rights and — and my favorite, bureaucrats of the best kind. Get to know these people!! This experience has brought me a community that I lost a little through the pandemic. 

And since there is no “I” in LT Class 39- I asked a few of my classmates to share:

“LT has given me the exact tools and resources I need to help my community grow. So Thankful!!- Derek Bell

“LT brings together community leaders from all walks of life that make memorable impacts in Tallahassee”- Taylor Maxey

“LT39 has afforded me the opportunity to interact and build relationships with fellow leaders in our community that I may not have otherwise crossed paths with in my professional field. It has been an enlightening and rewarding experience.” – Ken Powell

“This has been such an UNEXPECTED SURPRISE … At this point in my life, I thought that I had all the friends I was going to have and now I’ve made more than friends… we are a family” – Jeanne Freeman

Lastly, LT has provided an incredible avenue to strengthen my connection with my stepmom, Merry (LT 20). After each program day, we debrief, compare notes, and have great conservations about the impact of the day. I implore all LT grads – to invite your family members and friends to apply to LT Class 40. Because having the shared experience of going through the LT program is invaluable to strengthening relationships. And boy, could we use more of that today!

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