And here we have it.
The most challenging part of chairing the Leadership Tallahassee Board of Governors.
It’s… the eNews guest editor assignment. My chance to set the tone for the fiscal year. My chance to let you know who I am, what I do, why I love LT so much, and why you should be an engaged alumnus. And if I mess it up, it’s also my chance to let down Barbara Boone before “my year” even officially begins.
Some of those questions are easy. Who I am—Julian Dozier, CPA; shareholder with Thomas Howell Ferguson PA CPAs. What I do—auditing and forensic accounting; volunteer; play STAR WARS with my daughter; travel; make the most of this one wild & precious life we each get. Why I love LT so much—we can blame LT 32 for that because even as a nearly lifelong Tallahassee resident, I learned so much from my class year and I met some of my closest friends through LT (both from LT 32 and in every year since). Letting down Barbara Boone—none of us would let that happen, right?
At least some of those questions are unanswerable—there is no such thing as “my year.” That isn’t how servant leadership works. Yes, I will use my passion for our organization to help it succeed and I will do my best leave LT at least as good as I found it (hopefully better), but my tenure as board chair is not about bending LT to my will or achieving certain dreams of my own. I serve only to advance LT’s goals.
The final question has two symbiotic answers. Why you should be an engaged alumnus—first, because Leadership Tallahassee is only as good as its members, and second, because you will only get out of Leadership Tallahassee what you are willing to put into it. From the board to our curriculum chairs to our YLT selection committee to our program day chairs to our fundraising advocates and through all the other ways you can be involved, our alumni make us who we are.
If you have not yet volunteered to plan or execute a program day, sign up today. If you have only been involved with our adult program, volunteer to help our youth curriculum ASAP. If you have ever thought about skipping your dues renewal, go the other way instead and get more involved. The greater your investment, the greater your return will be.
But even more than that? You should be involved because Tallahassee needs you. LT cultivates a diverse network of emerging and experienced leaders committed to improving the community. Our elected officials cannot make our lives better on their own. We need committed leaders from all sectors – government, business, not-for-profits, healthcare, the colleges and universities, our retirees, and everywhere else – to step up and say “Enough. It is past time for Tallahassee to break through to the next level.” We have very real challenges in front of us, while at the same time we have very exciting opportunities for growth.
I don’t mean “growth” in the construction sense, or at least not only in that sense. I mean the maturation of our community. I mean the diversification of our economy. I mean making real progress toward lessening income inequality, poverty, and our crime rate. I mean further improving our arts & culture scene. I mean helping Tallahassee thrive.
Since the beginning of my Leadership Tallahassee journey in 2014, I have been endlessly impressed by our participants and alumni. But the single most impressive moment of leadership I’ve seen at an LT event came from 2019 Lifetime Leadership Award recipient Tom Barron. Tom, who is not an LT alum, took his moment on our dais to demand change in our community. To plead with his fellow Tallahasseeans to lift everyone up as we improve our collective quality of life. He used his time to talk about an uncomfortable, difficult challenge that too often we believe does not affect our entire community. But it does, and it’s getting worse. That is leadership, and that is what Leadership Tallahassee should be about: confronting our challenges; having open and honest, yet respectful, conversations; collecting support from all corners of our community (Green, Yellow, Blue, and Red, anyone?); and making a difference.
So, here’s to a great year. Stay safe. Be an engaged citizen of Tallahassee. Stay involved with LT. Get more involved with LT. Make LT Class 39 realize the value of our diverse network. Bring them into that network to help solve our community’s challenges. We are part of an exceptional community leadership program, but it will only ever be as good as its engaged alumni make it. So, have fun with it! I look forward to seeing you out and about soon, and to working together on challenging issues. And, from all my friends in LT 32 (yes… the best class ever): #csws