These are extraordinary times. The confluence of a global pandemic and tragic racial injustice have created a fever pitch that demands more of our community leaders. These challenges can’t be fixed with sound bites and photo ops. They require digging deep, listening to conflicting views, and embracing creative approaches to problem solving. As leaders, we are called to do the work, to get some rest, and to get up and get back at it. To “bounce forward to what we may become.”
Challenging times also bring great opportunities. And leaders seek out and respond to opportunities.
In recent weeks, we have received many inspiring applications for the Flagship 2021 class. It is especially compelling to read the stories of community leaders inspired at this specific moment in time to step up and serve our community by committing to the Flagship experience. Their collective passion is deeply moving.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have received requests to extend the application deadline and questions about how we will proceed with the Flagship class of 2021. In response to these requests, we have extended the application deadline to June 30th and I am eager to share our approach to the Flagship 2021 class.
LAA’s greatest asset is more than 1400 alumni from more than 25 years of programs. Many of these alumni serve on program committees responsible for planning Flagship and Neighborhood Leadership Academy sessions. Others serve on LAA event committees who plan the alumni professional development and social events. LAA alumni volunteers are guided by their cherished LAA experience to create meaningful, impactful, and perception-changing experiences for the upcoming Flagship class.
LAA was swift to adapt to COVID-19 challenges with virtual sessions to maintain momentum for our current programs. Moving forward, we will leverage the experience and passion of LAA alumni, expanding our creative approaches to in-person and virtual engagement for the Flagship Class of 2021, starting with the Opening Retreat hosted by Historic London Town & Gardens in September.
We will confirm a smaller class than usual by design (approximately 30 participants) to ensure flexibility with regard to physical distancing. The upside to a smaller class will undoubtedly be a more intimate and personal group dynamic for the class to fuel the lifelong relationship development so valued by LAA alumni.
Other upsides to this next normal include access to speakers and facilitators we might not otherwise be able to engage. For example, last month we were fortunate to feature nationally renowned speakers Chris Wilson and Eric McNulty for LAA programs as they were homebound from their standard speaking tours and graciously joined us via Zoom. We were fortunate to have USNA Captain Rick Rubel present on Ethical Leadership in April and we will be developing more ongoing professional development for LAA alumni in the coming year. The possibilities are endless.
As we look forward to welcoming the next Flagship class and expanding alumni programs in September, first we have much celebrating to do this month!
On June 16th, we welcome the 2020 New Leaders for a Members-Only Virtual Happy Hour to thank them for their leadership and introduce them to LAA Board Members and Membership at large. Click here for details.
Then, on June 23rd, we have a massive virtual Tribute to Community Leadership celebration in the works to recognize our 2020 Flagship and Neighborhood Leadership Academy classes! Classes and featured guests will gather on Zoom and we will broadcast to Facebook Live. Click here for the full scoop.
So, as we turn our attention this month to celebrating the graduating Flagship and NLA classes, we also look forward to embracing creative solutions to deliver the best possible Flagship experience for the incoming class of 2021. Because leadership doesn’t stop in times of crisis. It bounces forward.