A Message of Unity to Bridge the Leadership Divide

Monday, Dec 19, 2016 Category Education

​David B. Smith
Managing Director, Presidio Institute
A Message of Unity to Bridge the Leadership Divide

The historic structures that house and surround the Presidio Institute at Fort Winfield Scott remind us daily of the site’s legacy of service in defending our borders. Steps from our door, the once-imposing coastal batteries have become mere stepping stones along a breathtaking bluff trail. These batteries were recently recommissioned to house a provocative art exhibit presented by the non-profit FOR-SITE Foundation. Home Land Security​ invited artists from a dozen countries to reflect on the meaning and consequences of borders, immigration and forced migration, security, and distrust of the “other.”

As recent elections in the U.S. and Europe have shown, fear and distrust of the “other” and the resultant discord in our communities is one of the major socials issues of the day. Whether you view these events as populist revolts or democracy in action, they have exposed divides in our communities that have become too wide to ignore. Now more than ever, our focus at the Presidio Institute is on cultivating leaders who are adept at building bridges that can span these divides. Today’s approach to leadership must carry a message of unity, and include the missing and marginalized voices.

At a recent town hall at NYU co-hosted by the Presidio Institute, NAACP president and CEO Cornell Brooks and I discussed the key issues of voting rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the need for leaders across sectors to collaborate to resolve the critical issues in education. Brooks also called upon millennials to step up and lead, leveraging their energy and ambition to make a difference in the world to spark positive social change.

In this issue, you’ll also hear about Common Impact, an organization that works with corporations to place their team members in meaningful, skills-based volunteer settings. Common Impact CEO Danielle Holly, a 2015 Presidio Institute Cross-Sector Leadership Fellow, talks about how all involved come away from these experiences with multi-sector muscles, developed through perspective-taking, empathy and learning to use resources from across sectors to solve a common challenge.

For those of you working in the non-profit sector, the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance offers advice on the importance of attracting, training and retaining diverse and quality talent. Nonprofit Leadership Alliance’s Certified Nonprofit Professionals (CNPs), stay in the non-profit sector longer and are more likely to rise to leadership positions, according to a 2014 study by LinkedIn. The credential is available through a network of colleges, universities and non-profit workforce partners, as well as online through the Presidio Institute’s educational platform, Leaderosity.

We hope you’ll find something to support your organization’s bridge-building efforts in this issue of Reveille. Let us know what you’d like to see in future issues, or if you have a story to share. As always, we invite you to take part in our programs, trainings and talks. Learn more about Presidio Institute Experiences here.

Your partner in forging new ground,
David B. Smith

David B. Smith is the Managing Director of the Presidio Institute, and formerly the Executive Director of the National Conference on Citizenship and Mobilize.org. Building on the Presidio’s legacy of service and public-private partnerships, the Presidio Institute provides transformational experiences that inspire, encourage, and empower leaders to make measurable, positive impact in their communities. More information about the Presidio Institute Fellowship program can be found at http://presidio.gov/institute​.