Contributed by:
Matt Callan
Assoc. AIA

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2020 Emerging Leaders Program: The Architect and Community Leadership

On February 21, the 2020 Emerging Leaders Program participants were excited to host Walter Humann, a key figure and influential leader in the Dallas Community.

Pete DeLisle, PhD, Hon. TxA, kicked off our session with a discussion on the Model of Leadership Effectiveness. The discussion was framed around three main pillars: Ability, Awareness, and Commitment. Pete dove further into each pillar giving us practical examples on how these important principles are applicable in our profession.

This engaging conversation on leadership effectiveness was followed by Walter Humann presenting on “The Architect and Community Leadership.” Walt has led a very successful life as a business man and public servant. He spoke to us about his many community outreach efforts that have shaped some of Dallas’ most notable civic projects, which include: bringing the DART light rail system to North Texas, founding and chairing the Dallas Alliance to develop the DISD Desegregation Plan, and revitalizing communities around Fair Park. Although not an architect himself, he shared his appreciation for the profession and acknowledged the unique qualifications architects have to make an impact in our communities. Walt, a humble leader, did not just speak of his many successes, but also made clear the failures that occurred for each of his many efforts. These failures were met with persistence, grit, and hard work which ultimately paved a road to success. Mr. Humann made it clear that he has no plans to slow down, but continues to be actively involved in the Dallas community today.

Following his presentation, the class held a brief Q&A session with Walt to dive deeper on topics discussed. When asked about key elements needed to initiate a community service project, Walt described the importance of volu­nteers and their role in the success of a project, the need for financial support, and a clear, focused plan. We were also reminded of perseverance and overcoming failures and obstacles. Walt spoke of his excitement about the future of the Dallas Community and how he has seen many passionate individuals step up and lead efforts to impact their communities.

The meaningful discussions with Pete DeLisle and Walter Humann perfectly segued to the last agenda item for this February session, the Class Project. The Class Project is an important part of the Emerging Leaders Program. It presents an opportunity for participants to take the leadership topics and concepts discussed each month and put them into action through service in our community. Each class member presented a project idea to the class for consideration. A few of the proposals were selected and will be developed further in the month ahead. The 2020 ELP Class Project will be selected in the March session.