The city of Nashville is growing rapidly, and leaders at Harvard Business School are bringing some of the city’s top young leaders together to foster collaborations and conversations to promote strategic growth and to help this community prosper.
Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders Program 2016 gathered ten-person teams from nine selected cities that are among the fastest growing in the country and brought them to the Harvard campus June 14-17.
John Lowry, vice president for development and external affairs, was one of ten government, business and nonprofit leaders from Middle Tennessee chosen to participate in this program that convened leaders who are working across sectors to make their communities prosper.
“It is an honor to be selected to be a part of this program and to be in conversation about how Nashville can continue to grow and thrive,” said Lowry. “This also reflects on the reputation Lipscomb University has in the Nashville community and the impact it has had on the success of this city. This was a great opportunity to go to Harvard to learn from some of the leading thinkers in this country and to develop relationships that will not only benefit Nashville but Lipscomb as well.”
Other Nashville delegated included Leslee T. Alexander, international director, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Mario Avila, founding director, Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, Vanderbilt University; Agenia Clark, CEO, Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee; CMT Vice President of Public Affairs Lucia Folk; Clay Jackson, director of sales, nSight Travel Intelligence; Skanska Vice President Mendy Mazzo; OzArts President Tim Ozgener; Renata Soto, Conexion Americas founder and CEO; and Lonnell Williams, director of neighborhoods and community engagement, Office of the Mayor.
Delegates were selected with input from senior leaders in each city who identified “up-and-comers who are energetic, creative, positive and collaborative, with a track record of civic engagement.”
“The participants who were a part of this program were very impressive in terms of what they are doing in their communities and the potential they have to make lasting impacts in them,” said Lowry. “The program was extremely well-designed with faculty who inspired us to seek creative ways to make our cities and country stronger. It was a convening of the best of the best, and I am excited about the opportunity that I now have to pay it forward by putting into practice the lessons learned and collaborations established.”
Harvard faculty for the program included Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a noted expert on leadership and change in complex settings, including at the city level; Karen Gordon Mills, formerly the head of the Small Business Administration and now a senior fellow at HBS; Jan Rivkin, co-chair of HBS’s project on U.S. competitiveness; David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN who has served as an adviser to four U.S. presidents; and Mitch Weiss, formerly chief of staff to Boston’s Mayor and now teaching public entrepreneurship at HBS.
Tennessee is the only state to have two cities in the program, with both Nashville and Chattanooga represented. Other participating cities are Boston, Columbus, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
Delegates from these cities met on Harvard’s campus for three intense days of learning about cross-sector collaborations — best and worst practices from across the country and around the globe. Through case-study method discussions and drawing on the expertise of the young leaders themselves, program faculty shared insight into where America and American cities stand today, examples of innovative cross-sector collaborations that improve cities’ standing and personal lessons about collaborative leadership.
The program is based in the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School and was created to develop leaders who understand cross-sector collaborations for shared prosperity and who are able to implement them more effectively and spread them more rapidly than in the past. It offers opportunities for city teams to apply the ideas to their hometowns – to envision new cross-sector collaborations that can put their cities on a path toward shared prosperity.
Now that the city teams have returned to their communities, they are encouraged to apply what they have learned to benefit their hometown. The goal of the program is to develop a “cadre of young leaders who are able and eager to work across traditional boundaries to help their communities thrive.”
The program is locally coordinated by Global Action Platform, an international university-business alliance for scalable, sustainable solutions for abundant food, health, and prosperity. Lipscomb University’s Linda Peek Schacht, founding director of the Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and leader-in-residence in the College of Leadership & Public Service, advises the group along with Scott Massey, CEO of Global Action Platform who was instrumental in bringing YALP to Nashville.
“I am honored to work with the Young American Leaders Program Nashville teams as they bring their experiences home. Cross-sector collaboration for the common good is the hallmark of Lipscomb’s academic and community programs. The creation of this program at Harvard reinforces the importance of this work at the local and state level ,” said Schacht, a former Harvard University Kennedy School of Government senior fellow. “The choice of Nashville as one of nine cities reflects the potential of the city’s collaborative spirit to have even greater success.”