The LMR Blog

What we can learn from Hurricane Harvey

Is it true that hard times ignite great leadership? As community leaders, we must serve first and then lead. Prime example: Houston furniture store owner Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale opened the doors of his Gallery Furniture stores up to Hurricane Harvey evacuees in the days leading up to the one of the busiest weekend’s in retail (Labor Day Weekend). Mack sacrificed this past holiday weekend’s sales to continue to serve those in need of shelter and meals after being displaced from their homes by the storm. In the spirit of our own theme this year “A Legacy of Leaders,” Mack was quoted in an interview with CBS News as stating the reason for his generosity was simply, “This is what my parents would have done.”

Offering the resources at your disposal to uplift those around you in a time of crisis should not be exception, but the norm. For some, it’s financial resources and spheres of influence. For example, comedian Kevin Hart issued the Hurricane Harvey Relief Challenge to his friends in entertainment via social media, which led to multiple $25,000 donations towards hurricane relief efforts. Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt has encouraged the sports communities (players and fans alike) to give, raising over $4 million for hurricane relief. Houston Rockets’ Clint Capela used the power of social media to report emergency situations and help get quicker assistance to those falling victim to the rising waters. In community leadership, community is key. We can accomplish more together than we can apart.

Locally, many Richmonders stepped up to the plate by both traveling down to the Texas for physical assistance but also using their resources here at home to raise funds for relief efforts. Patrick McKann of Glen Allen gathered a group last week to go down and rescue horses and livestock stranded in the floodwaters. Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint on Grove Avenue donated 100% of their profits last week (and through the holiday weekend) to the American Red Cross. We applaud these individuals and businesses as well as the many other local efforts continuing to provide support to the hurricane relief. There is much to do in the aftermath of the storm and it will take a lot of time and resources. It is important that we continue to think of south Texas as their cleanup efforts have only just begun.

Looking for ways you can help south Texas? CLICK HERE for a recent article from ABC News on how, when, and what to give.

Charlottesville’s Call to Action

People often feel compelled to take swift action after events of enormous impact, such as what took place in Charlottesville over the weekend.  That demonstration of divisive behavior fueled by hatred was seen and heard around the world.  This is bigger than a single community, a state, or even our nation.  Hate rooted in unfounded prejudice has created a long history of battles all over the globe and that war continues.  So what do we do as community leaders?

After watching several news reports, reading the chatter on social media, and talking with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors it is clear that there is a lot of blame thrown around and not enough conversation getting to the roots of issues.  Historically there have been decisions made based on biases and gaps in access of all kinds that continue to divide us (education, economic prosperity, healthcare, basic social services).  Those gaps have led to an even greater divide in communication, which has led us to a place of misunderstanding.

Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR) was created to be a catalyst to close those gaps in the Richmond region. Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman wrote in their recent book, Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences, "Leadership Metro Richmond offers exactly the type of opportunity for bias reduction that contact theory suggests."  Each annual LMR class is a group that reflects the diversity in race, gender, profession, industry, and economic status across our region.  We bring together diverse leaders to broaden perspectives and connect those who are working towards the same goal of a better and brighter future for our communities.   However, while we continue on that mission today, our annual program is just the beginning.  We continue to urge our members/graduates to take the knowledge, experience and connections they have to create positive impact. We want them to keep building bridges of understanding and engage in inquiry to heighten their own understanding.

This fall we will host a facilitation training for our members through the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities so that the tough conversations we are able to have within our membership can continue outside of our doors.  We want our community leaders to not only talk to each other, but also facilitate challenging conversations in their own communities.  We desire for our members to continue to push for diversity and inclusion in leadership so that many voices are present at the table.  Encourage diversity within mission driven and public service boards and councils.  We envision a future where we can look around at those with decision making power and smile with pride at the fact that they reflect the culture, best interests, and values of many.