The Leadership Class held its opening retreat September 10-11. The group spent Friday morning engaged in a historical tour of Fort Worth led by Quentin McGowan. The afternoon was thoughtful and engaging as the class created a timeline of noteable events in Fort Worth and became more aware of the individuals who contributed to Fort Worth’s rich history. On Saturday, the group spent the day in “Leaderland” and participated in a variety of group processes that are essential for community leaders. Whether they were stepping outside their comfort zones developing skits or sharing insight about Fort Worth’s history and timeline, the Leadership Class kicked off their year with enthusiasm.
Community Trusteeship Day
Community Trusteeship was the focus of the October program day, hosted on campus at TCU by Dr. Don Mills. Dr. Carol Spalding was our guest facilitator for the day. Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa provided a “State of the City” overview to put the day into context for the group. Following that, the class discussed the concept of trusteeship and whether various decisions about current issues were being made with trusteeship in mind. During the afternoon, small groups created their vision of Fort Worth 2020, which we will revisit at the Closing Retreat. Represenatives from the community groups who will benefit from our group projects joined us for the balance of the day.
Arts & Culture Day
In November, the class explored the arts “behind the scenes” at Texas Ballet Theater, the Fort Woth Community Arts Center and the Rose Marine Theater. Many in the class were surprised at the multitude of issues that a professional arts group faces on a regular basis. Deborah Jung with Kids Who Care and Jody Ulich of the Fort Worth Arts Council shared their perspectives about the value of the arts to the community, both from an economic standpoint and a creative standpoint. Neils Agathar with the Burnett Foundation and Nancy Jones of the Community Foundation of North Texas discussed the importance of philanthropy to the arts and the types of projects and support that have made a difference to the community. The class used the storyboarding process to generate ideas to address real-time philanthropy issues facing Kids Who Care, Artes de las Rosa, Stage West and Texas Ballet Theater. Representatives from those groups participated in the process along with the class members and were then able to take the results back to their organizations for further development and potential implementation.
Our December program focused on Engaging the 21st Century Student. The class travelled to Far North Fort Worth to visit Timberview Middle School. Timberview is built in a non-traditional way to encourage collaborative learning and mainstreams all types of technology into the learning environment. Class members were “wowed” by the experience and voiced concern that the students might think their workplaces were way behind the times. Keller ISD (where Timberview is actually located) Superintendent James Veitenheimer met with the group over lunch and explained that KISD’s mission is to prepare students for jobs that haven’t been conceptualized yet. He also went on to say that 2/3 of the students KISD serves actually live in Fort Worth, as well as 5 of its 7 board members. After lunch, the group met at Texas Wesleyan and explored student engagement in higher education. TCU Vice Chancellor Don Mills presented an in-depth look at the Millenial generation. Following that, TWU Provost Allen Henderson and UTA Provost shared their insights about steps to retain students once they enter college and ensure that they graduate.
Transportation was the topic of the day in January. To frame the day’s discussion and gain some perspective about commuting, the class rode the TRE out to D/FW airport. Tom Shelton from North Central Texas Council of Governments provided an overview of regional transportation issues. D/FW Airport VP John Terrell addressed the group, where he shared the concept of the “Aerotropolis” and how transit can be an intergral part of making D/FW a destination for shopping, dining and meetings. The afternoon focused specifically on the transportation challenges facing Fort Worth. The group used the Critical Inquiry process, introduced earlier in the day by UTA Professor James Welch, to pose specific questions to the panel and gather in-depth information about the issue. Thanks to Dana Burghdoff with the City of Fort Worth for spearheading the plans for the day, to the Fort Worth Transportation Authority for providng passes for the TRE and to D/FW Airport for transporting our group between Centreport Station and the Hyatt Regency hotel!
Health Issues & Legislative Priorities
Because of the ice and snow earlier in the month, our late February program had a dual focus. JPS Health Network hosted the day, during which we gained some new insights about health care in our community and became more aware of legislative priorities in preparation for our upcoming visit to Austin. Dr. Scott Ransom, president of UNT Health Science Center, explained how the Health Science Center works collaboratively with the local hospitals and how the addition of an M.D. program would benefit North Texas. JPS President & CEO Robert Earley joined the class for lunch for some candid discussion about the funding challenges facing JPS as well as the significance of having a Level 1 Trauma Center in our community. The afternoon was focused on legislative priorities. Representatives from healthcare, education, business, municipal government and county government expressed their concerns about the state budget shortfall and how funding cuts would impact those areas. The class also spent some hands-on time learning how to use the Capitol website to track bills of interest to them,