A new chapter is unfolding for a longtime Evansville non-profit.
Leadership Evansville changed its name, but this is much more than a name change.
Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd sat down with Leadership Evansville CEO Lynn Miller Pease to talk about the name change and what it means.
Brad Byrd: Well, Lynn welcome to In Depth. And I’m not going to steal your thunder, but what does this new name represent?
Lynn Miller Pease: Well, we’ve been Leadership Evansville for 41 years and what we were realizing was the name really didn’t describe who and what we are or our mission completely anymore. We have always been open to everyone. We have people in every county in our region – we have tremendous diversity and inclusion. So, on our boards, in our classes, the nominees from Celebration, recipients, leadership in our boards – it’s always been very inclusive. And we’re so inclusive at our major events at Celebration Leadership that we open it up to everyone whether they can afford it or not.
Brad Byrd: You’ve grown to the point you may need a bigger room to celebrate.
Lynn Miller Pease: Oh yes, absolutely. We’ve gone to the exhibit hall – we had nearly 1,600 people tonight. But what we found is that people would come up and say can we nominate them if they’re outside of Evansville? Can we come into one of our leadership programs if we’re not from Evansville? And we’re like of course, we’ve always had people from everywhere. So, our board was so excited tonight to announce our new name that will describe us better as Leadership Everyone. And we picked that for a number of reasons. Everyone describes who and what we do. Our short mission is diverse servant leaders transforming community. And it’s all about everyone being included.
Brad Byrd: That sounds like a big challenge, especially on a regional basis especially when you think of the hundreds of thousands of people in the Evansville region and the Tri-State region. How do you train a leader? Because I’ve checked your background and you have been immersing yourself in basically helping people become leaders. But that’s easier said than done. Tell me about that.
Lynn Miller Pease: So, part of it is that we believe everyone leads. If they wake up in the morning, they’re leading themselves and the people they influence. So what our task is, is to get all people to recognize that servant leadership attitude is one of the things we want people to embrace and to live and to practice, but also, we’re hoping that people can find ways they can be authentic, they can be themselves and we want people to realize anytime they want to transform community, they really wanna make a difference, be who they are and be the best person they can be, using all their gifts and talents is the way to go. We’ve kind of gotten rid of the idea that there’s a couple of characteristics – you have to be charismatic to be a leader… We let people know you can be a quiet leader, you can be all kinds of different styles, but what you’re doing from the heart is what usually allows the best things to happen.
Brad Byrd: This is not about egos, is it?
Lynn Miller Pease: It really isn’t, but it’s not about completely selfless either because you need to show up. You need to be there. But what we found is in a world where we need shared vision, in a world that needs collaboration, in a world that needs an inclusion of all people, that servant leadership attitude, if that is in the forefront, the rest of it can naturally happen. But trying to be collaborative, you’re only thinking about your own organization, and it doesn’t usually work out very well.
Brad Byrd: And we were talking about it and we’re not getting political here, but there’s a lot of polarization in this country and in this world – but Leadership Everyone. I’m going to have to get used to that. But Leadership Everyone is trying to bring all sides together and all generations. There’s a lot of kids are involved.
Lynn Miller Pease: Yes, a lot of kids are involved, a lot of older people, and what we find is that when we come together, we don’t have to agree on everything, we need to find a way to have civil discourse, and be able to work together and use each other’s talents in order to make the community better. But we’re finding it’s not that hard to do. One of the things that Leadership Everyone has had in its corner all along, is that we’re an autonomous non-profit – so we’re literally objective. So we can convene conversation, we’re not owned by any one group, we have donors from all over the place and our alumni, so we’re able to go into the community and help the community listen, vision and do transformation, because we are autonomous. But we seem to have lots of people from lots of different groups. So, we’re kind of owned by no one, but we have a little piece of everyone.
Brad Byrd: And speaking of numbers now, how many nominations are we talking about?
Lynn Miller Pease: We have 175 nominations from five counties. Yes, that’s a lot.
Brad Byrd: How did you sort all that out?
Lynn Miller Pease: The selection committee, thank god, does that. There’s about 14 of them and I am so glad to say I don’t vote.
Brad Byrd: And how many people at this exhibit hall?
Lynn Miller Pease: We believe there were about 1,600 people
Brad Byrd: 1,600?
Lynn Miller Pease: 1,600 people – all kinds of different people, including a couple of horses. The officers on horseback received and they came and got their award too. We believe, I said, in everyone.
Brad Byrd: It sounds like you’re naming a strategy that you’ve been involved with for many, many years. You’ve been involved as a participant, as a leader and now CEO of this group that has just grown.
Lynn Miller Pease: I think that it better describes who we are and how we’ve lived. It’s not aspirational, it is futuristic though, because we want to do more and more work within the region. We’re looking to do some visioning in five counties, like we did in our county. So, we’re definitely reaching out more and more. But we haven’t had a class in years that didn’t have people from all the different counties, including Henderson.
Brad Byrd: Very briefly, if someone is watching tonight, if they want to get involved how do they do that with Leadership Everyone?
Lynn Miller Pease: Leadership Everyone, they would go onto our website, LeadershipEveryone.org – it’s so exciting to say it – and they could call me or Denise or Elizabeth at 812-425-3828. We would love people to take part in our leadership retreats, but if that’s not something they can do right away, they can still get involved with Ignite, with Celebration of Leadership, with Voice, with all kinds of projects. We include people even before they get involved.
Brad Byrd: Well, exciting times in Evansville, now beyond. Thank you, Lynn Miller Pease.
Lynn Miller Pease: Thank you.