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?
“People are not problems to be solved, but potential to be unlocked.” – Saif Y. Ishoof, Esq, Vice President for Engagement, Florida International University
As Vice President for Engagement at Florida International University (FIU), Saif builds win-win-win partnerships that create sustainable change for the university and its students; public and private sector partners; and the global community. Prior to joining FIU, Saif has served as founding executive director for City Year Miami, and CEO of FCT Technologies Corp.
What inspires you?
I am a product, and beneficiary, of this community. I immigrated to Miami at 2 years old. But for the guidance I received from my parents and the many role models who have supported me through the years, I would not be where I am today. I feel like I would be selling my community short if I didn’t try to help others. In a way, it’s part of the karmic balance of life – to improve the lives in this community that improved my life.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 issues facing Miami today?
Malina Simone Jeffers, //
What inspires you?
People inspire me. Lifestyles inspire me. When I see family members with new ideas but no access, I’m energized to continue working to build that access. Or when I see young entrepreneurs working tirelessy to be noticed, to make something work – I’m inspired to connect them, to help them make it work in Indy.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 issues facing your city today?
Jennifer Coleman, Senior Program Officer for Arts, The Gund Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was an architect and president of her own design firm, Jennifer Coleman Creative, LLC. //
What inspires you?
Personally and professionally, what inspires me is the way that physical projects and culture consciously and unconsciously impact how decisions are made. I love how cities transform gracefully (and sometimes awkwardly) in response to challenges (like the Great Recession) and opportunities (like Cleveland rising to the occasion for the Republican National Convention.) I equate cities like the circus performers with spinning plates who always keep them spinning while adding more plates. It’s amazing to me to see all of the different plates that must be spun quickly in a vibrant city.
In your opinion, what is the top issue facing your city today?