Changing the way I look at Louisville

Maggie Harlow

Maggie Harlow (LL '12) owner, Sign-a-Rama

Leadership Louisville 2012 December program day with Jefferson County Public Schools

Just when I think my mind is full and busy with lots of ideas, Leadership Louisville comes along to shake out old ones and make room for new ones. The December Leadership Louisville day took us on an ‘insider’s’ look at education. We faced our own stereotypes and expectations and were inspired by the missions of so many that make our school system better every day.

Our first speaker was the impressive Dr. Donna Hargens, our new superintendent. She takes a complex issue and distills it to remove distractions. She talked repeatedly about “arrows going in the right direction,” meaning continual improvement is what matters. Lastly, the questions to ask every educator to be sure they can answer:

  • How do you know what the student should learn?
  • How do you know if they are learning it?
  • What do you do if they aren’t?

That’s a series of questions I can adapt for my business and employees!

Going from that 10,000 foot view, we were suddenly brought into close focus by seeing schools close-up and personal. I had a chance to tour Western High School, a traditionally “troubled” school for “troubled” kids. The principal, Mr. Mike, was clearly systematic about his processes, clear about limits and discipline, but also a powerful leader who understands kids and teachers want a reason to show up each day. They are on a mission at Western – a mission to get EVERY kid to look at college as their destiny. The feedback from others in the class that visited the North and South Olmsted Academies and Mill Creek Elementary made me a little sad I couldn’t tour them all!

While the Western HS principal was impressive, the teachers, admins and students were stars, as well. I had a chance to visit with a few students – many of whom have parents who are busy with multiple jobs and have no ability to assist them with homework or college applications. These kids weren’t “troubled” in the way I was thinking – when asked “What would you change?” they unanimously said “We would like to get MORE kids in our school talking about college in their future.” Wow – they were only troubled by the fact that they couldn’t get more kids to open their minds to possibilities of education. THAT is a group of kids on a mission!!

Other “Aha!” moments:

  • Meeting JCPS School Board members, who are doing their best in a system that is clearly needing a “fix”
  • Learning what non-profits like Family Scholar House do to fill the gap between education and business – changing lives for generations
  • The large businesses in Louisville that make contributions to education to make their business work, but more directly reward Louisville with better educated workforce and better paying jobs

As old ideas leave my head, I eagerly stuff in some new ones and change the way I look at Louisville and my role in the community!


Policeman for a day

Vince Patton

Vince Patton (LL '12) executive administrator, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Leadership Louisville 2012 police car ride-along

On Monday, December 5, Officer Chuck Cooper and I began our journey throughout the Chickasaw, Shawnee, and Park DuValle neighborhoods.

My most memorable event of the ride-along was when Officer Cooper responded to the dispatcher’s report that a girl had violated the terms of her house arrest. When we reached the location, a hostile teenage girl confronted us. Officer Cooper calmly explained that we had to take her to the juvenile detention center, but the girl tried to resist arrest. The officer reached for the girl’s hands and placed handcuffs on them. She fought the officer every step on the way to the police car.

When we reached the police car, the girl shocked us by revealing that she was pregnant. Officer Cooper helped the girl into the car, and we waited until two other officers arrived on the scene. Officer Cooper later explained that if an individual resists arrest, the police are required to complete additional paperwork and take photos of the suspect.

Officer Cooper and I drove the girl to the juvenile center, where she was originally scheduled to serve her sentence.

Officer Cooper told me that our evening, which included six stops, was slower than normal. On a typical night he might stop twenty to twenty-five times, responding to anything from robberies to domestic disputes. During our time together he indicated that 90 percent of his time is spent on approximately 10 percent of the people in his district.

My ride with Officer Cooper left me in awe of the patience and dedication police officers display. Officer Cooper spoke admirably of churches and social service organizations in the community. His comments reminded me of the many different needs of individuals and the incredible things that can be accomplished when people and organizations of all types come together for the sake of the whole community.

Be like a duck

Jean Lee

Jean Lee (IL '12) client and community relations coordinator, PNC Bank

Ignite Louisville 2012 December program day with Norton Healthcare

Have you ever been told “Be like a duck! Stay calm on the surface but paddle like crazy underneath!” Our opening activity of the Ignite Louisville December program day was to identify the qualities that a duck possesses that could relate to leadership. It was a fun and interesting exercise to identify leadership qualities such as adaptability and resiliency. Lead by Al Cornish, chief learning officer at Norton Healthcare, this activity kicked off an entire day of focusing on our own personal leadership skills and competencies. If you ever have an opportunity to sit in a class taught by Al, I highly recommend it. Al’s teaching style is so engaging and entertaining that you won’t even realize that you are learning!

One of the most interesting parts of our day was when we heard Lynnie Meyer’s leadership story. Her journey is an incredible one with so many twists and turns. As a young professional it is always inspiring to hear from leaders in our community who have hit crossroads in their careers and have landed on their feet. She also talked about being passionate and dedicated but also striving for life balance. Our December program day held at Norton Healthcare was exciting, insightful and stimulating and I look forward to our future program days.