LRI Updates: 2018 Leadership In Action

“Everyone in a complex system has a slightly different interpretation. The more interpretations we gather, the easier it becomes to gain a sense of the whole.” Margaret J. Wheatley

Whether you’re right or left of the aisle, or whether you sit independently, we’re all concerned about the uncivilized tone in America, the elevation of dissonance and the sacrifice of compromise, common ground, and unity. Yet, these harsh realities could become more embedded in Rhode Island, particularly as the election season looms.
Solutions to problems in our increasingly divided society are far too complex to be found in a single leadership style, a single ideology or a single hero.

Leadership Rhode Island (LRI) has recognized this for decades; it’s why we provide shared experiences for emerging and established leaders from different industries, sectors, ages, backgrounds and political affiliations. We dig deeper into the Rhode Island issues that matter most. We’re confident that solutions will come from within us, a collective of passionate doers. Whether it’s our Core Program, college program, Make RI Stronger, Publick Occurrences, Jeffersonian Dinners, or any other activity at LRI, our formula for success (internally and externally) since 1981 has been rooted in cross-sector, cross-industry collaboration.

Six months into the year, the following is an update on how we’re attempting to meet today’s challenges under the appropriately timed 2018 theme, “Leaders As Hosts”:

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BiPartisan Program Committee: As in years past, our volunteer Program Committee, appointed for one-year terms, reviews and changes the Core Program curriculum almost entirely each year. Members engage and influence today’s leaders (the class) with significant information and current events associated with the most critical issues affecting our state and our abilities to lead: Economic Development, Education, Government, Basic Needs, Crime & Incarceration, Environment, Defense, and Arts, Culture & Tourism.

In the spirit of Rhode Island’s “lively experiment”, and at a time of great polarization in America, this year’s committee is experiencing bipartisanship, month-by-month, and topic-by-topic, just by who is in the room. Led by Co-Chairs Myrth York ’92 (D) and John Harpootian ’88 (R), alumni were selected based upon their public affiliation with one of America’s two largest political parties. Read more.

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Strengths Meet-Up: On June 13th at The Dorrance, strengths enthusiasts (alumni and non-alumni) from across the state will mix and mingle over food and drink AND their TOP FIVE Strengths that make them 1 in 33 million. And we’ll toast Rhode Island’s latest recognition! With over 100 Rhode Islanders already registered, sign up today while there’s still space!

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Leaders As Hosts Luncheon: In March we celebrated individuals we believe exemplify the traits of effective “Leaders As Hosts.” Attendees enjoyed the new, late-night talk-show format in the company of others they didn’t know. We strategically placed each individual at a table where we believe they’d most benefit, and then, we took the inside-outside by encouraging attendees to meet by table again over coffee, lunch, or dinner within this calendar year. Many have done so already, have you?


LRI’s Challenge Coin: Recognizing there are many great “Leaders As Hosts” in Rhode Island to celebrate, we’ve taken our award program on-the-road to honor folks across the state wherever they are. The first to receive a coin outside of our awards luncheon was Clay Rockefeller for his extraordinary community accomplishments that bridged the profit and non-profit sectors.

*Upon receiving a nomination by an LRI Alumnus, LRI’s challenge coin is presented to individuals who demonstrate the values of #LeadersAsHosts. To nominate:

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Leadership In Action (LIA) Projects: The 2018 Xi II Class is putting leadership skills needed in the 21st century into practice throughout the year. Class members have been segmented into 10 LIA teams based upon the affinity topic of their choosing. The first half of the year has been spent interviewing and convening Rhode Islanders around those topics to determine our biggest challenges. The second half will be doing the same with individuals who are thought to be holding the answers to those challenges outside of our state. By the end, both groups will be brought together to explore collaborations and opportunities to make Rhode Island stronger through newfound knowledge and connections. That’s what being a Leader As Host is all about!

If you’d like to learn what our 2018 class members have learned so far, email Programs Manager Kristin Zosa Puleo and reserve a seat for the Xi II Pecha Kucha presentations during the day of June 13th at The Comedy Connection. Limited seating.

These are just a few highlights of how we’re living, breathing, and nurturing Leaders As Hosts. We’re weaving existing networks and forging new ones, increasing the likelihood for new ideas and innovations to surface in our great state.


Mike Ritz, LRI ‘07
Executive Director
P.S. Don’t forget to renew your annual membership!