In Memoriam: Ken Christensen

From Left: Ken Christensen, Libby Hubbard, Craig Riger, Dianne Parker, Lou Giordano at a Leadership Huntignton Founders Dinner in 2014

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” ~Google tells me this quote is attributed to Nelson Henderson but to me it belongs to Ken Christensen, who spoke those words often and took them deeply to heart.

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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.

Adventures of Craig & Trudy in Community Leadership, Chapter 2: Touching on Temperament.

Some notes on a few of the temperament styles. Photo by Trudy Fitzsimmons

What would you do with an extra $300? Pat and Craig Rider used it to make a dream come true. During their honeymoon on a sailboat they discussed starting a business. Within a year they had established a consulting company with $300 bucks Craig earned teaching an extra college course. The Riders’ personal and professional journey now spans more than three decades.
Craig and Pat Rider are co-founders of The Rider Group, Inc. which specializes in team building, leadership development and retreat facilitation for organizations throughout North America. Their work with city, county and state-wide community leadership programs has earned state and international awards of excellence.  

Craig holds an MS in Counseling and Guidance and a BA in Psychology. Pat has a BS in Political Science. Active community advocates, both have chaired major fundraisers. Pat’s extensive volunteer work earned her recognition as a YWCA Woman of Influence and as one of Dayton’s Top Ten Women. What a dynamic duo. The preceding excerpt was taken from the book they wrote entitled “300 bucks and a dream,” which you can purchase online. Permission was given.

Thank you Craig. 

Remembering Where we Started

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are.”   ~ The Talmud

By 2014, both the Rider Group and I had been involved in Huntington’s Leadership program for almost 20 years. I thought the history should be told, or at least recorded somewhere. In my desire to capture the history of Leadership Huntington, I arranged a dinner to include Ken Christensen, Libby Hubbard, Dianne Parker, Lou Giordano, Craig Rider, Kate Laible and myself.
During the course of the dinner Ken piped up saying “This needs to be on the record.” So this story goes: 

Craig was hired to conduct the first class retreat for Leadership Huntington in 1994. Everyone was nervous and wanted to make sure the retreat would go smoothly. Ken, feeling responsible for the program asked Craig, “What are you going to do?” 

Craig replied, “Stuff.”

Ken immediately became concerned and exclaimed “STUFF!?!” He then said, “I am not a stuff guy. I don’t do stuff! I want to know what you are going to do in detail. I am not going to trust you to do ‘STUFF.’”

Craig calmly replied, “As I evaluate the class and see what they are doing I will adapt. I need to know who the class is, what their collective personality is and their situation. I will accommodate whatever it is they are doing.” 

Ken said that didn’t make him feel much better but he did go to all the retreats because, “Craig’s STUFF WAS GOOD STUFF!”

At those retreats, Ken learned that he is a Beaver. To understand what that means, keep reading.

The Chairman of Leadership Huntington, the unflappable Lou Giordano also spent time speaking with Craig at the retreat. Craig commented “I don’t know if you knew I was a native, but it means so much to be in my hometown working with Leadership”

Lou replied, “Don’t you think I checked your references?” 

Craig replies, “You mean my Aunt Neeta and Cousin John?” 

Lou’s eyes opened wide. That was a gotcha moment. Craig has a keen sense of humor and, fortunately, so does Lou. 

Lou is an Owl. If you have been through the program with either of them you may get the humor of the situation. 

The main purpose to these little pieces of information is to introduce you to some examples of Temperament. When Craig evaluated the class, he used an instrument called the “Myers- Briggs” assessment tool.* Later, he replaced this with something he felt was simpler for folks to understand, called “Temperament.”    

Temperament

“Temperament identifies the basic needs and core values that drive our behavior and our choices. It is an interdependent, self-supporting system”     ~Linda Berens

The class would take the assessment to bring them to an understanding of how different each of us is, and what our learning styles are according to the Temperament Summary. I will share just the basics with you.**

Understanding temperament patterns is a crucial part of developing key leadership skills. Having an awareness of why and how you and others communicate and perceive information opens the door to more effective relationships and productivity.
 

During the retreats, Craig would offer many exercises — “STUFF” — to help understand how all this works. The following short descriptions, while not complete, provide an initial understanding of the patterns of behaviors, values, talents and needs. We are each a mix of temperament types, typically with one type as our preferred, or dominant type. Temperament is a language of how we are wired; the “deck of cards” we have been dealt.

Basic Characteristics of the 4 Temperaments:

“No one temperament can be said to be better than another. Each one contains strengths and richness, yet each one is fraught with its own weakness and dangers.”  ~ Tim LayHaye

The Beaver values being part of a group; having membership. Beavers are the cornerstone of society, establishing and maintaining standard operating procedures. They tend to protect, serve, stand guard and warn. Looking to the past and tradition, they may focus on the conventional. They pride themselves on being dependable and hardworking. They are generally serious, concerned and often fatalistic. Often they are skilled at getting everything in the right place- information, people and objects. 

Time Orientation: Past 

For those familiar with Meyers-Briggs, Beavers fall under ESTJ ISTJ ESFJ ISFJ

The Owl exhibits knowledge and competency. As the problem solvers, they tend to focus on complex systems of the world. They analyze how something works and then how to make it better. Seeing everything as conditional and relative, they trust logic and reason. Driven to accomplish their goals, they work tirelessly to complete projects. They are often fiercely independent leading some to think they are cold or distant. However, they are more likely simply immersed in the problems they are currently solving. 

Time Orientation: Infinite 

Meyers-Briggs Profiles: ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP

The Dolphin tends to be authentic, kind and empathetic. This is the self-improvement temperament. As a visionary and idealist, the Dolphin wants to make the world a better place, searching for identity, meaning and significance. They focus on similarities as a way to find integration. In whatever field they are in, they work well with people and groups of people. Their drive for self-knowledge, along with their general loving demeanor is inspiring to those around them.  

Time Orientation: Future

Associated Meyers-Briggs profiles: ENFJ INFJ ENFP INFP 

The Fox has an innate ability to excel in the art of their choice, whether it is business, athletics, military, or industrial. They trust their impulses, and seek to have an impact and get results. They are optimistic yet realistic, unconventional yet focused on the here and now, often getting absorbed in the action of the moment. They want freedom to move, seeking adventure and stimulation, and seizing opportunities that come to them. They will often take the road others feel is too risky, doing whatever it takes rules or no rules. 

Time Orientation: Present

Associated Meyers-Briggs Profiles: ESTP ISTP ESFP ISFP

* Myers–Briggs typology as categorized by David Keirsey. This document is a summary of the four temperaments based upon the following sources: Berens, Linda V.,”Understanding Yourself and Others: An Introduction 4.0” Radiance House, West Hollywood, Ca., 2010; Keirsey, David, Please Understand  Me II, Temperament Character Intelligence, Prometheus Book Company, Del Mar, CA, 1998.

** Please understand Myers-Briggs is a complicated instrument. It is not intended in this short writing to evaluate anyone, only to produce an awareness and understanding that people have many ways of processing information.     

Next month:  Leadership and Community Trusteeship