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Friday, November 01, 2019

A Brief Cleveland Rising Summit Reflection & Three Calls to Action

Guest Author

A Brief Cleveland Rising Summit Reflection & Three Calls to Action

by Keith Laschinger, President, North Coast Initiative

First of all, I want to pay well-deserved respect to all those responsible for conceiving of, planning, and executing the Cleveland Rising Summit. It is evident based on the number of people who attended, (1) the Summit addressed a need and (2) there are hundreds of leaders who are ready to do the work.

I attended the Summit because of my passion for Cleveland and a genuine interest in being part of a movement to equitably and inclusively grow our City. I also wanted to challenge myself to consider being one of the leaders in this movement.

Over the course of the three days, I had opportunities to meaningfully interact with senior leaders of organizations such as the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Destination Cleveland, Gund Foundation, and Third Federal. I also interacted with other key leaders in the City and came away feeling like I belonged in the room. Importantly, though, I also met and interacted with a lot of others who also may have been there to challenge themselves to lead.

These leaders were diverse in every sense and I truly hope that we all continue to practice what we heard several times - we don’t need to ask permission to lead. For some of the Summit participants, I urge you to consider civic leadership at the City and County level. Our need for civic leadership is urgent and I hope those with the capacity and vision to occupy key leadership roles will heed the call. I, for one, look forward to the day I am choosing between two really strong candidates as opposed to writing in the name of a leader I wish had run.

I do not currently, and likely never will, feel called to civic leadership. I do, however, feel called to be one of the Cleveland Rising movement’s leaders. During the Summit, I chose to join the working group that grappled with creating and unleashing funding mechanisms to accelerate the growth, equity, and inclusion initiatives being championed by Cleveland Rising participants. In my view, this has to include creating economic efficiencies and eliminating inefficiencies in the public sector in addition to enhancing funding in all sectors. It also has to be aimed at investing in people, particularly people of color, and fully leveraging all of Cleveland’s human, natural, and capital assets.

Our working group did not identify a magic wand and it is clear that one does not exist. One thing that is clear, though, is that funding growth, equity, and inclusion priorities will require partnership between the public, private, and social sectors. With this in mind, we have committed to creating a wiki that will assist leaders in all sectors with identifying those who are doing similar work so that they might collaborate and deliver greater impact. We also intend to enlist and provide access to navigators from all sectors to assist those doing growth, equity, and inclusion work.

So, for now, I have three calls to action:

  • Consider if you should become a civic leader in our City or County. If you don’t feel called to this type of service, encourage and support someone who you think might be.
  • Attend a Racial Equity & Inclusion training.
  • Join the Cleveland Rising Summit movement by following the link provided and clicking the “Accept the Challenge” button.

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