Community Leadership, Chapter 4: Leadership and the Dianne Parker Direction

Dianne Parker, the original Executive Director of Leadership and the Huntington Township Chamber Foundation with an early dedicated sponsor, Robert Scheiner of H2M Architects & Engineers. Photo by Katheryn Laible

Diversity.

This concept of developing leaders from all groups in a community certainly influenced Dianne Parker’s thinking. Dianne Parker was Executive Director of Leadership Huntington. We must say Dianne is a serious, intelligent business entrepreneur with a love of nature and art. She also has an earnest interest in people and all their cultural diversity.

Over the last 20 years, we have developed a great appreciation of how she crafted the Leadership Program and what she brought to it. One of her most important tenets being diversity of class member’s may lead you to ask, “Why?”

The answer is because it is important to bring people together so they may learn from each other and cross economic, cultural, gender, and educational lines. Many class members have expressed revelations and new understanding of other people and their circumstances while they were in the diversity rich environment of Leadership Huntington. Libby Hubbard, past Chamber Foundation President, commented that the class mix leads to a broader view of the community.

People have at times had an opinion that only those in positions of authority or higher status should go through the program. Those opinions ring hollow in my experience. That limiting concept would hamper the effect of experiential leadership. Many Leadership Huntington graduates have gone on to help build organizations and create non- profits that benefit many folks.

 

Why is diversity important? The answer is because it is important to bring people together so they may learn from each other and cross economic, cultural, gender, and educational lines. Many class members have expressed revelations and new understanding of other people and their circumstances while they were in the diversity rich environment of Leadership Huntington. Libby Hubbard, past Chamber Foundation President, commented that the class mix leads to a broader view of the community.

Larry Kushnick, Esq. Class of ’97, God rest his soul, said Leadership Huntington gave him the confidence to start his own law practice. He also helped get many local organizations started. Another young woman found her own voice and advanced in her family’s business because she now had the confidence to articulate her own worth. She, too, became instrumental to many positive community endeavors. Sometimes, the impact is very personal, which is good because community leadership starts at home. One gentleman in my class remarked, after going through temperament exercises, that he now understood why his wife was so different. Awe, clarification and understanding.

The notion that leaders can be developed, who as a direct result transform communities to be stronger and more effective, is a concept derived from the exploration, experiences and observations of community organizations like the Chamber Foundation and that group of committed individuals. To quote Ken Christensen, past Chamber Foundation member, “everywhere he goes there is a Leadership Huntington grad involved.”

This is very good. Community leadership is critical to building effective, inclusive communities which work for all citizens. It is hard to imagine an effective community which isn’t full of committed, engaged, involved and evolving volunteer leaders, servant leaders, and community trustees.

Change is everywhere. Communities change, issues change, circumstances change, demographics change. Leadership programs must change, too. The program that seems to work today won’t tomorrow. Community education isn’t enough. We must endeavor in an ongoing fashion to equip leaders with skills and processes that will serve them when and wherever they encounter a leadership challenge.

One class a year isn’t enough to create leaderful communities. One format does not fit all. We encourage all with experience and insight to think of yourselves as leadership development arms of your community, and of all the implications for change that concept implies.

Diversity is very important concept, and not an easy one to accomplish, but it makes such a rich learning environment. We have separated ourselves so much over the years we have missed the richness of diversity. One can only hope we may work toward that concept for a rich future.

We hope you can take away some bits of wisdom from the idea of diversity and the concepts that are suggested. Stay tuned, Chapter 5 is next!

Thanks for reading.
Trudy & Craig

This is very good. Community leadership is critical to building effective, inclusive communities which work for all citizens. It is hard to imagine an effective community which isn’t full of committed, engaged, involved and evolving volunteer leaders, servant leaders, and community trustees.

The Adventures of Craig & Trudy Chapter 3: Lesson in Community Trusteeship, The Huntington Township Chamber Foundation

Libby Hubbard and Arthur Goldstein, two extraordinary community trustees of the Town of Huntington. Photo by Katheryn Laible

The Early History of the Huntington Township Chamber Foundation

Leadership Huntington was founded by members of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. Longtime Board Member. Ken Christensen attributes the very beginning of any mention of a leadership program to Dick Bornstein a fellow chamber board member. Dick traveled to a national chamber training program every year. He brought home news of a leadership program he thought they should consider. No one took up the idea until sometime later, although The Chamber did run a one-time program called “Practical Politics.”
 

At that time, The Chamber’s board included a number of members who were passionate about serving the community. One big idea they had was to start a childcare center. In order to do this and other things, they needed a mechanism by which they could accept donations, essentially a 501(c)3. So, the Chamber created “The Chamber Foundation.” It was chaired by Libby Hubbard, assisted by Ken Christensen, Jill Tane and others. While Libby was forming the foundation, Dick Bornstein suggested applying for a state grant to help get the childcare center started. The grant application needed a total list of everything a child care center would need to start operation and a budget.. Libby contacted Katie Roach, a local child care center owner, who was able to give them all the details for the grant in very short order. That contributed to the success of the grant.

With receipt of the grant the Foundation hired an Executive Director, Dianne Parker, to put together this child care center, as well as a health care facility for the community and other work. At that time Arthur Goldstein, a local attorney was the Chamber Board President. For the Health care facility Arthur and Dianne were looking at a warehouse on Pulaski Road used by Huntington Hospital for storage. Long story short, Arthur negotiated a variance for a bathroom which helped make the space suitable.  He was so successful in selling the idea that, next thing you know, they were ordering an MRI machine. He also found a state grant and county money to move this along, and convinced two people from Huntington Hospital to be on the new health care facility’s Board of Directors. This is how what is now known as the “Northwell Health Dolan Family Health Center” came to be. 

To say Arthur was a catalyst for good is an understatement. I wish I had more interaction with him. What a wonderful human.

To say Arthur was a catalyst for good is an understatement. I wish I had more interaction with him. What a wonderful human.

The Power of Community Trustees

This group of people, some whose names I have mentioned, some I haven’t and never met, had a vision for their community. These people were and are Servant Leaders, or Community Trustees.
By that I mean they took seriously the notion that community leadership is:

  • Fundamentally an act of service to the common good
  • About first endeavoring in cooperation with others to understand the big picture, the components and how they work together
  • About then empowering those served to envision their preferred future, and to realize their own unique roles in achieving it.

This approach reflects a life-transforming attitude for both the individuals and communities that embrace it. With the advent of the over 1000 Community Leadership programs it has inspired, it has strengthened and transformed communities nationwide by encouraging lifelong learning across interests and perspectives, and by actively strengthening relationships throughout communities.

Community Trusteeship has changed attitudes and helped participants become more effective local leaders. By focusing on exploring the deepest values of participants, it improves both sense of self and empathy for others. It advances clarity of purpose, deepening and broadening awareness, respect for diversity on multiple levels, and both the desire and ability to serve the community for the common good.

The Importance of Trust

The phrase “Community Trusteeship” identifies a key ingredient that is fundamental to a healthy community, and is too often lacking today: TRUST.

Greed, dishonesty, divisiveness, corruption, and acting exclusively in one’s own self-interest without regard to others destroys trust. Even without theses being actively perpetrated, lack of human connection fosters disbelief, skepticism, and suspicion. Lack of trust destroys relationships, undermines institutions and makes it difficult if not impossible to bring about effective solutions and public goods.

Trust requires honesty, mutual understanding, faith, predictability, and integrity. Earning trust is an act of the heart. Giving trust is an offering of vulnerability in good faith that it will be honored. When demonstrated by individuals who act in an unselfish manner to consider each other’s interests as fundamental to their own, it is a powerful benefit to society.

Community leaders who hold their communities in trust model commitment and caring competence. They recognize that each of our self interests is bound up in the health and well being of the whole. In this, Trustees provide deep service and leadership to individuals and organizations. At the same time, they empower the development of these people and organizations who comprise the communities they serve.

Trust requires honesty, mutual understanding, faith, predictability, and integrity. Earning trust is an act of the heart. Giving trust is an offering of vulnerability in good faith that it will be honored. When demonstrated by individuals who act in an unselfish manner to consider each other’s interests as fundamental to their own, it is a powerful benefit to society.

Community Trusteeship is an act of caring commitment that transcends narrow self interest to serve the whole community; taking responsibility for and acting on behalf of the common good, and endeavoring to help individual interests find a healthy place as part of the whole.

The concept reminds us that leadership is not about us; that our communities are complex organizations that existed before us and will continue long after we have moved on. It honors those who came before, endeavoring to understand their triumphs and tribulations, and the issues overcome and still before us. It recognizes the contributions that created and preserved the amenities we value today. It recognizes our duty to protect and enhance these resources effectively holding them in trust for those who will follow.

Community Trusteeship is more about personal commitment than specific skills, even as its execution is much about identifying strengths and then coordinating and putting them to good use. In this, it is at least as much about interaction as it is about individual action; a commitment to continued learning, relationship development, and endeavoring in service to the whole.  

I am grateful that those who formed the Huntington Chamber Foundation and participated in all its good works took these concepts to heart. I hope that you will, too.