Rebecca Hutton (photo provided)

Who do you think of as a leader? Often in our society, business executives, government officials, and coaches are called leaders. And they can be. In Central Indiana, there are great examples of leaders in all of those spaces. But visibility, status, and title alone are not what makes someone a leader. 

It is important that we cast a broader vision for the word leader. They are also hand-raisers at our neighborhood meetings and those who work on behalf of the community without any expectation of being recognized. They are also elders who have been gathering folks on front porches for decades and young people who don’t have their own front porch yet. 

At a point in history when so much is polarized and confrontational, Leadership Indianapolis is committed to the belief that community leadership is at its best when it is multi-generational, multicultural, and collaborative. Leadership is at its best when it is empathetic. Leadership is at its best when it is curious. Leadership is at its best when it is focused on the greater good.  

Just a few weeks ago, Leadership Indianapolis hosted our first board meeting of the year. We asked everyone what they love most about Indy. A common sentiment was that this is a place where people interested in getting involved can get stuff done – it’s a place where you can reach out to a potential mentor or collaborator for coffee and more often than not, they’ll happily take that meeting.   

We also celebrated our ability to pull off large-scale events, like the Super Bowl and the upcoming NBA All-Star Game in 2024. Hosting these events are an important part of our legacy and shows a commitment to engaged leadership by coming together to make incredible moments come to fruition. (And because we’re Hoosiers, it gets done with a smile.)   

We should be proud that doors seem to open more easily in Indy than in other cities. But we also need to recognize that those doors still stay firmly shut for many who have been knocking for a long time. And those doors stay shut for many leaders in our community who haven’t been given a map to even find the doors to knock on. 

At Leadership Indianapolis, we don’t just believe this. We don’t just talk about it. We are trying to be about it.  

We partnered with The Indianapolis Foundation to launch the Mosaic Fellowship in the fall of 2021. This program identified six women of color who already had the skills and ability to serve on a not-for-profit board but just hadn’t gotten the invitations to serve. We matched them with organizations who were already doing work to address issues of equity at the board level, to ensure the Fellows were entering a welcoming environment dedicated to growth. The Mosaic Fellowship supports these incredible leaders, both the individuals Fellows and the participating organizations, through workshops, cohort experiences, and financial support in an effort to shift the culture of not-for-profit boards so that the doors to stewarding our community’s institutions and assets are open to more people. 

We not only need leaders from a variety of generations guiding the future of our city, we also need those leaders from different generations working together. We not only need to make space for decision-makers who come from a variety of backgrounds and lived-experienced, we also need for those leaders to truly respect and value that variety of backgrounds and lived-experiences. Because community leadership is at its best when it is multi-generational, multicultural, and collaborative. And Indy deserves the best. 

Rebecca Hutton serves as President & CEO as well as the Program Director for the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series at Leadership Indianapolis. 

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