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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Leadership Northern Kentucky is Critical to the Region

Brent Cooper. FTM file. 
By Brent Cooper

Whether you know it or not, Leadership Northern Kentucky (LNK) is a critical ingredient in the long-term success of our community.

The contributions by LNK classes over the years are wide ranging.

LNK classes have done everything from installing handicap doors at Redwood, to creating a Healthy newborn site for Transitions that serves mother’s going through addiction recovery.

Without LNK, there wouldn’t be a Maker space in Boone County, a Hope Box Derby to support Health Point, or an upcoming 2nd Annual River Cities Relay (August 26th) that will provide charitable spending for multiple nonprofits in the region.

The latest LNK class of 2017 is taking on “Unlock the Block”, July 22nd in Latonia.  This music fest was created to activate community vibrancy and potential in Northern Kentucky.

As you can see, LNK has been going strong since the very first class of 1979, ten years after the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was founded.   The program now boasts over 1,500 graduates!

Although it has changed over time, the core strategy remains – to use the community as a classroom to develop leaders who will effectively serve the region.  

For many, their first exposure to the hidden challenges of poverty and law enforcement came through the LNK program.   For others, the first time they even heard of the Welcome House in Covington, learned how important pre-school is for kids, or heard from a holocaust survivor, came through LNK.  
It was shocking for me to discover some LNK participants had never even tasted bourbon before.  Now that was a Kentucky tragedy that had to be remedied!

Thanks to LNK, their world has changed, and they are ready to be “change makers!”
Involving the community in this way “kills two birds” as it not only educates those going through the class, it also provides a mechanism for community organizations to recruit future board members, promote projects, and communicate strategies.
85% of LNK students still contribute charitably to non-profit organizations they met while going through the program.

The early LNK classes produced graduates that are now corporate Presidents, board members & elected officials.

Because those early graduates made such an impact on the community, (the previous “best classes ever”), the program is now widely viewed as a rite of passage for future leaders, and a key ingredient for developing future talent.
There are many reasons why the program is successful, but the secret sauce in my opinion is the diverse makeup of each class, and the fact that it is primarily driven by LNK Alumni.

People from various backgrounds and industries, that reside in different geographic areas, come together to learn from each other and form a lasting bond.  

During a recent meeting at the NKY Chamber of Commerce, folks were asked to raise their hand if they were a graduate of LNK.  Nearly the entire room had their hands in the air.    It was a wonderful endorsement of the program, and another reason why you should support this incredible legacy of leadership.

As we head toward the 40th Anniversary of LNK in 2019,  I hope you’ll encourage friends & colleagues to apply for future LNK classes, support LNK initiatives, and financially support scholarship funding for non-profit partners and entrepreneurs.

The LNK tradition is strong.  Be a part of it.  It is a gem for the region, and continues to have a positive impact on the state we are in.

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