Local Leadership

The most recent issue of Pop City features a profile of Leadership Pittsburgh, a local leadership development organization that is about to celebrate 25 years of training many of the region's best and brightest leaders. Here's a link to the Leadership Pittsburgh website.

Reading the Pop City story, then surfing around the Leadership Pittsburgh website, I was struck by the program's apparent Pittsburgh-centrism. I didn't see a single reference to communities, regions, or countries (read: interests, needs, cultures) beyond Western Pennsylvania.

It's been obvious to almost every objective observer here for decades that the Pittsburgh region is deeply connected -- economically, culturally, politically, even athletically -- to places and people beyond its (loosely-defined) borders. Any well-trained community leader should understand that.

Am I missing something in the LP program? I hope so.

[Update 5/22: Today's Post-Gazette also has a story about the LP anniversary. That story is also upbeat, but Pittsburgh-centric.]


3 Responses to "Local Leadership"

Anonymous said... 5/22/2008 9:24 AM

I'm a participant in the current Leadership Pittsburgh class and would have to say that the issue you raise (Pittsburgh-centric) is valid until you look at the mission of the organization. Its to get local leaders, particularly from the business community, more educated and then involved in the social, educational and civic issues of our region. LP doesn't try to be "all things to all people". As a result, the program is generally rated as one of the best any of us have experienced.

In the midst of examining local issues, we often consider the challenges of the region in comparison to other parts of the country or world but ultimately our focus is on improving this region and reinforcing our desire to stay here by strengthening our connections and recognition of the assets we have in our midst.

It would make perfect sense for the Leadership Pittsburgh team to consider a complementary program that would be more externally and globally oriented.

Chris Sweeney
President and CEO
3 Rivers Connect

Mike Madison said... 5/22/2008 10:11 AM


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the clarification. A complementary program sounds like a good idea.

Still, if the focus of the current program is "on improving this region and reinforcing our desire to stay here by strengthening our connections and recognition of the assets we have in our midst," then my worries aren't put to rest completely. Improving the region is a no-brainer as a goal; identifying and connecting assets are no-brainers in terms of strategies.

But connections and assets have to include connections and assets *outside the region*, which bear on the region and without which the region cannot grow, thrive, prosper, or even simply remain viable into the next decade. Pittsburgh doesn't have the resources or the talent to do this on its own, and there's no reason to believe that we do or that we should. That's one of the major themes behind the IntoPittsburgh initiative.

On board in spirit but concerned about tactics,


Anonymous said... 5/22/2008 11:01 AM

Its difficult to glean the depth of a program like Leadership Pittsburgh in a brief exchange but I suspect there is more alignment than meets the eye.

While the initial goal is to help local leaders understand our region's challenges, much of the program than relates to the strategies to address these challenges. None of those are insular in nature, quite the opposite. We've met with program leaders like Bill Strickland (Manchester Craftsman Guild) who is now internationally recognized for his approach (and has replicated his model in three other cities). We've talked extensively about the region's problems with immigration, diversity and inclusion. Audrey Russo from the Pittsburgh Technology Council traveled with our group and is leading the charge to "connect" Pittsburgh's technology community to the global economy. These are just a few examples.

There is always room for improvement but the current LP program provides a solid foundation on which to build.

Chris Sweeney

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Updated September 2020:

Pittsblog 2.0 was written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, from January 2004 through December 2011.

Since then, Pittsburgh-themed essays have appeared from time to time at madisonian.net, on law and technology, and in some of Pittsburgh's classier professional media venues.

Chris Briem of Null Space drops by Pittsblog from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

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