How did you get involved in public relations?
I started in Public Relations after college at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, moved to the oil industry with Amoco, then joined Amway Corporation’s media relations team before I opened my own firm 32 years ago. Today, our firm is well recognized for our client support to manage issues, brand awareness and new product launches and we have a unique practice working with many Michigan companies on talent recruitment and retention. This is our work that ties to working with our City branding, and helping the City understand the attributes of a great brand.
Javier A. Soto, President & CEO, The Miami Foundation //
What do you see as the greatest policy issues that Miami must address in 2017?
In 2017, significant attention will be paid to transit issues. Explosive growth has impacted the ability to move in the city.
Equally important, but a longer-term issue that Miami is facing is the effect of sea level rise. We have already begun to see issues with this along the coast. We will need massive infrastructure changes in order to address the impact of climate change on the city.
All year we have profiled leaders who work tirelessly to make their cities more beautiful, successful, and inclusive. To close out 2016, we are featuring an entire city, rather than a single person – the gritty, tough, and fabulous Pittsburgh.
Though we wish we could have profiled every person we have the privilege to work with from the city, it would have been a book, rather than a blog.
Check out four leaders who are growing Pittsburgh:
Tracy Certo, Founder + Publisher, NEXTpittsburgh
William Generate Jr., J.D., President & CEO, Urban Innovation21
Nathan Martin, CEO, Deeplocal
Jane Werner, Executive Director, Children’s Museum
Denise Reid, Executive Director, Mosaic and Workforce, Tulsa Regional Chamber //
“Always raise your hand, and raise your voice. Even if your voice shakes and you’re scared, raise your hand and use your voice. Be true to yourself.”
What’s your advice for the next generation of city change makers?
Be very intentional in understanding the people you have at the table, and understand who is missing. Go outside of your usual sphere of influence to make sure that you capture the creative capital needed to drive your city’s success.
Also, if you are at the table and you notice representation is missing, make the reach to be inclusive. If you don’t have someone to ask, figure out how to help others grow to be able to meet that need.
Finally, be sincere about the direction that you are going and the challenges that you face within your community. Be positive in your approach. If you own where you are and what is going on, you can more forward. For instance, if you don’t know how to build capacity, recognize that, ask for help, and learn from others.
Cindy Frey, President, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce //
What is your advice for the next generation of city change makers?
The biggest piece of advice I can offer to the next generation of city change makers is to get involved! Community leaders are eager to form relationships with next generation leaders, to share the community’s history, to mentor, and to provide guidance. On the other hand, community leaders need to be open-minded about the approach young leaders take. Here, we have a history of a strong, nine-month community leadership training program. It’s a great program, but I sense we need to update our model. Next generation leaders might prefer to hold a hackathon to solve a problem in a weekend. They may see a solution that involves new technology. We need to move over and make room for new ways of tackling issues.
Carol Evans, Executive Director, Legacy Parks Foundation //
What is your advice for the next generation of city changemakers?
The best advice I can give to the next generation is to listen in many different ways. So many people are passionate and have great ideas. It is extremely important to give these talented people a voice and a platform.
An expression I like to use is to “make the table rounder and larger.” By this I mean it is part of my job to invite people to this table so that their ideas can be heard and we can achieve sustained success. In my line of work, you do not always have to come up with the best idea but you have to be able to identify the best idea.
Tanisha Robinson, Founder + CEO, Print Syndicate //
How did Print Syndicate get started?
I grew up in a small town in Missouri, in a large Mormon family. I didn’t really fit in. In high school, with the launch of AOL chatrooms, I was able to find other odd kids like me and a place to belong. Twenty years later, the Internet is a place where, regardless of geography, people can find belonging among others just like them.
While I was the director of marketing at a company similar to Café Press, I realized that there was an interesting opportunity at the intersection of on-demand printing and creating a timely response to what people talk about on social media.
Print Syndicate’s purpose is to enable self-expression through exceptional design. And, through self-expression, hopefully to enable self-acceptance.
From the start of our conversation with David Ginsburg, president & CEO of Downtown Cincinnati Inc., and our July City Changemaker, David explained he believes no one is a changemaker alone. Rather, change occurs through the collaborative, focused and sustained efforts of committed and diverse teams.
How did you get to where you are now?
It was not a direct line. I came to this position through the retail industry. I worked for 20 years for Marshall Fields, first as a stock person, then a sales person, then a buyer, and eventually in store management. I moved to Cincinnati to work for U.S. Shoe Corporation, where I directed merchandising and management support services for more than 300 stores nationwide. During this period, I had the opportunity to visit two to three cities each week. I saw how downtowns and suburbs were changing and how they interacted. During a time of ownership transition at U.S. Shoe, Downtown Cincinnati Inc (DCI). was being formed and I was hired by the new organization as Vice President of Retail Development.
Was this transition hard?
It seemed that everything I had done in the past was perfect preparation for my role in leading DCI. This job has taken all of the skills I developed throughout my career – customer service, quick response, a sense of urgency – coupled with my ability to solve problems and my understanding of downtowns. It has also been an opportunity to implement the many things I have learned from bosses, mentors, and colleagues.
Kristyn Miller, Program Director, CampusTown Waco Initiative, Prosper Waco //
What inspires you?
People’s capacity for good-hearted change. In Waco, we have made great strides in both grassroots and institutional community transformation, all brimming out of a genuine desire for improving our city holistically. The amount of visionary and dedicated leadership on issues of great importance in our community is truly inspiring.
I’m also inspired by those part-human, part-superheroes who wake up at the crack of dawn, kill it in their work day, grocery shop, volunteer, work out, make dinner, organize their junk drawers, and still manage to get 8 hours of sleep, all without a cup of coffee. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Larry James Jr., Counsel, Faegre Baker Daniels //
What inspires you?
The city of Des Moines and its people. There is an optimism here that anything is possible and we have the leadership to get it done. We are fortunate to have a civic culture that embraces volunteerism. People give of their time and talents to causes and projects and see them through to completion.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 issues facing Des Moines today?