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Volunteerism and Advocacy

Finding Your Community Leadership Path

How does community change occur? How do you effectively communicate your vision to raise awareness and exert influence? How can you contribute to the community in your current role? What are effective strategies for building community relationships?

In the June Emerging Leaders session, facilitated by Suzanne Smith, MBA, we explored the importance of building lasting community relationships. It starts with identifying your passions, establishing rapport, understanding personalities and motivations, and finding shared values. By suggesting future activities and showing genuine interest, connections can be strengthened. Additionally, being a cheerleader, remembering details about individuals, and building trust through equality and humility help create lasting relationships.

Understanding corporate responsibility and using your company as a platform is an effective way we can contribute to the community in our current roles. Corporate responsibility is the commitment by companies to manage their activities in a responsible way. This is a newer trend to view companies as having to behave in ethical terms and have duties/responsibilities beyond profit. Social responsiveness can range from defensive, reactive, accommodative to proactive. Defensive ranging towards a passive or legal response to leading the industry with a proactive response.

To enhance understanding of building lasting relationships, an improv group exercise was conducted, where participants networked for two minutes with individuals they had least conversed with. Positive and negative feedback was exchanged, helping develop executive presence through gravitas, community, and appearance.

After the improve exercise, the class reorganized into their groups to discuss their community projects. This year, ELP has three exciting projects: the NEF mobile unit for the Northwest ISD Education Foundation, reimagining Dallas International Commons, and community engagement for the Elmwood Redevelopment project.

The class reconvened with an esteemed panel comprising Amanda Hendrick - Associate Principal and Director of Strategy & Development at Merriman Anderson Architects, Ashli Hall - Senior Communication Project Manager at HKS, Mikial Onu – CEO of Onu Ventures, Tammy Meinershagen - Chief Innovation Officer and Managing Partner Dallas/Frisco at Blackshaw Partners. They discussed volunteerism and advocacy, sharing their personal journeys of community involvement. Ashli Hall's impactful question was, "What would people say about your community contributions after you're gone?" This highlighted the importance of listening to community needs rather than imposing our own assumptions. The panel's key message emphasized the significance of building relationships and expanding our circles, with the mission making any challenges worthwhile.

Written by Juilee Patil