This year marks 40 years of Leadership Tallahassee. 40 years of anything is an amazing accomplishment. But LT has not just existed for 40 years – it has thrived. And with the incredible incoming “Best Class Ever” that is LT Class 40 and its dedicated Board of Governors and staff, LT shows no signs of slowing down. Before telling you a little about myself, I wanted to provide some perspective on just how long LT has been a part of the Tallahassee community. LT began in 1983. What was happening in the world in 1983? The US economy was recovering from historic inflation. Inflation in 1983 was at 3.21%, down from 13.50% three years earlier. (Let’s hope it doesn’t take three years for the current inflation to drop to a more manageable level.) Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was the top grossing movie at the box office. Every Breath You Take by the Police was the top song on the Billboard charts. And I was two going on three.
Fast forward to today, and while a lot has changed, a lot has also remained the same. Unfortunately, inflation has returned to early 1980s levels. Star Wars is still omnipresent. There are days I feel like I’m two going on three. And LT continues to be a vibrant leadership program in our community.
Now for a little about me. My name is Khanty Xayabouth and I’m a Senior Vice President and Regional Retail Specialist for The First Bank in Tallahassee, FL and our GA markets. I’m married to my college sweetheart, TJ, we have a 14-year-old daughter, Malia, and a 1-year-old goldendoodle puppy, Saylor. I was fortunate to be accepted into LT Class 28 and honored to be the curriculum chair for LT Class 36. Both I can arguably say are two of the “Best Class Evers”.
Going into my LT year, I was very nervous, extremely motivated and also scared of the unknown. It’s said that the class you’re selected for is the class you’re supposed to be in. This dynamic mix of diverse individuals is what makes your class unlike any other. Each program day enhanced my perspective of this wonderful city we live in and allowed me to learn and build intricate relationships with my classmates. Every class has its idiosyncrasies and inside jokes that make the LT experience unforgettable. For instance, ask any LT 28 member to explain the meaning of “douche-baggery” or “just let them die” and they likely will say an explanation doesn’t do it justice, “you just had to be there”. It is these “you had to be there” moments that form the lifelong bonds that make each LT class so special.
But LT is not about individuals. It is about community. It’s framed in our mission statement as Leadership Tallahassee is a community leadership program that cultivates a diverse network of emerging and experienced leaders committed to improving the community. But what these leaders do with the skills learned and their experiences from LT is what makes the program so unique. Rather than simply using the skills to further their individual ambitions, LT alumni utilize the skills learned in LT to benefit future LT classes and the greater Tallahassee community. This “pay it forward” approach is what makes LT successful and drives its continued growth.
I ask us to continue to “pay it forward” and be committed to being engaged. We should continue to build on the legacy of this leadership program. We are only as good as the engagement of our members. So I ask again: Have you completed the Willingness to Serve form? Have you volunteered to chair or assist with an LT or YLT program day? Have you registered to attend a luncheon or DLA? Have you joined a non-profit board to put your leadership skills on the forefront? Have you considered running for office to focus on those challenging issues within our community? Have you read a book to a local kindergarten class?
As leaders, it’s in our nature for us to be engaged. Harness this duty and commit to ensuring that LT remains essential to the growth of our community.
Here’s to 40 years of Leadership Tallahassee and to the Best Year Ever.