My Leadership Pittsburgh Experience

Schneider Downs

By Theodore Pettko

This past fall, I began my participation in Leadership Pittsburgh (LP) Class XXVIII. This program is designed like a hands-on MBA course in community leadership. The twelve-day curriculum, distributed over a ten-month period, examines critical community issues (such as education, regional economy, inclusion, human services, local government and the arts), enhances civic engagement, develops executive-level networks and empowers senior managers to affect their business and regional agenda at a leadership level.

LP’s tagline is “we open eyes, minds and doors.” How fitting. This program exposed me to many issues and opportunities that I otherwise would have never encountered in my lifetime. Noteworthy excursions were a police ride-along, tour of the County Jail and view of the court system, just to name a few. The most memorable ones for me were the Leadership Challenge and Public Education sessions.

The Leadership Challenge profiled the number of various communities and services provided/needed by communities. It showed how various communities - whether rich/poor, small/large - are functioning in delivering services to their residents, and highlighted the challenges associated with their task. I visited the Steel Valley Council of Governments (SVCOG). SVCOG works with its communities through the various programs it offers, including community development, cooperative purchasing, human services, joint public works and other essential services. My takeaway was how impressive it is that these communities, working together, have successfully transformed their communities to function in today’s world. The Public Education session was also enlightening. Public Education in Pennsylvania is a key issue. Many people have tried to implement wholesale changes with little success. From my exposure to this issue, I know that small, subtle changes will have the most impact and have the potential for positive change in this extremely important area.

My greatest experience, without a doubt, is reflected in the friendships I forged in this class. The people are so special in this group that it is difficult to put it into words. We started as a group from diverse professional backgrounds, but all had one common goal – to make an impact. The varied background of the group created spirited discussions and perspectives that changed my outlook and thought process on many issues. The perspectives of this experience will last a lifetime. Ultimately, I felt very comfortable in LP and with my classmates because it felt like Schneider Downs. I look forward to continuing the friendships and relationships I developed through this program.

I am proud to be a graduating member of Leadership Pittsburgh (LP) Class XXVIII this summer, and I encourage others to consider participating in a future class. I think you will find it to be life-altering.

Visit the Leadership Pittsburgh page for more information on this innovative program.

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