Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Everyone Leads.

"If America is going to continue to thrive in the twenty-first century, we must strengthen our sense of community. In Everyone Leads, Schmitz lays out the challenges for those of us who have a passion to make a difference and, more important, the strategies to spark lasting change from the grassroots up. His unique perspective and experience make this a must-read for community activists."
—Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone
 Just before I met Leif he was selling shoes on the east side of Milwaukee and finishing up school.  To this day he sizes all of the shoes for our family and makes sure they fit properly, but he wasn't in the shoe business for long.  One day he sold a pair of shoes to Paul Schmitz and Leif's life shifted course instantly.  During  that serendipitous shoe fitting, Leif learned that Paul had recently founded the Milwaukee branch of Public Allies, a nationally recognized ten month intensive leadership training program.  Leif dropped the shoe horn, took a big pay cut, and became one of the first allies to graduate from the Milwaukee based program. 

For as long as I've known Leif, Public Allies has been a part of life...his devotion to the organization is one of the reasons I fell in love with him.  Leif's experiences as an ally enhanced who he was a person in such monumental ways that he went on to join the staff of Chicago Public Allies and sits on the national board for the organization to this day.  Public Allies taught Leif how to lead. 

Paul Schmitz didn't do too badly for himself either. After founding the Public Allies Milwaukee site in 1993, he went on to become the CEO of Public Allies in 2000.  Since 2000 Paul has more than tripled the size of the Public Allies programs; he has also developed and implemented countless enhancements for this valuable national program.  Oh and now he's written a book.  And Leif is in it.
In Everybody Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up, Paul reminds us all that leaders can be found  everywhere and gives useful information to the reader on developing and utilizing community leaders and diverse groups  to help solve problems.

Over the years I've often joked that I am an Ally by proxy.  I know I am a better person simply because I've had the privilege to learn  by osmosis from all of these inspiring  people for a  long time, but the truth of the matter is Paul, Leif, and everyone associated with the Public Allies program are the folks who have done the real work.  They have learned how to lead and put those skills to the test every day.  Their dedication and effort has created a new generation of confident and effective leaders.  Public Allies has reason to be proud of all they have accomplished.  I know I am!

2 comments:

Angela said...

Awesome! It's such a great story. I love knowing people that make a difference.

Nubia said...

shut up! I was supposed to go this event but ended up going out of town to visit my godkids. I had asked Leif to buy me a book, but he surprised our whole team with books. I haven't started it yet, but I might just need to start it this week. Also, I can't believe I haven't heard this serendipitous story before. Unreal!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...