Transforming one 3-year strategy into another

LRI begins its initiative to lift Rhode Island onto the national stage, connecting the best and brightest

On the heels of the community-focused Central Falls turnaround in 2012, exploration of quonset in 2013, and our deliberate crossing over into the larger RI community in 2014; Leadership Rhode Island just completed its last three years (2015-2017) of statewide civic engagement and social knitting efforts designed to strengthen Rhode Island in unprecedented ways, putting theories into 36 months of action:

  • 2015 — The Lambda II class conducted 33 public gatherings across the state to discover the top strengths of each RI city/town and the 900 lesser known champions behind them. The effort culminated in the nation’s first statewide strengths-based convening. Read the Cities & Towns and the Affinity Areas reports. [Formatted for printing.]
  • 2016 — The MU II class continued the mission of the previous class by analyzing the data and taking on actions that made lasting connections and/or impact in 11 Rhode Island communities. See page 5 of LRI’s 2016 newsletter for details.
  • 2017 —  Recognizing the two Rhode Islands divide, LRI asked the NU II class to conduct 9 initiatives of their choosing, with the 2015 data in mind, to connect with and positively impact rural communities located along Route 102.
Kevin O'Brien '14: "The strength of America comes from our unity, a fact not lost on our founding fathers who saw fit to make 'E pluribus Unum' the nation's motto."

Kevin O’Brien ’14: “The strength of America comes from our unity, a fact not lost on our founding fathers who saw fit to make ‘E pluribus Unum’ the nation’s motto.”

And now, not even a full month into 2018, Leadership Rhode Island has already begun its next three-year initiative to lift Rhode Island onto the national stage and connect our state and our leadership to the best and brightest across the country.

The newly launched 2018 Xi II class members have met one another and formed bonds at their 2-day overnight retreat on Goat Island in preparation for their work ahead, they contemplated the meaning behind Margaret Wheatley’s essay, “Leadership in the Age of Complexity,” and will carry the banner of this year’s theme “Leaders as Host” for the next ten months as they adopt and practice leadership skills noted by Forbes as necessary for success in the 21st century.

In parallel to the 2018 Xi II Leadership In Action efforts, which will become clearer as the year progresses, LRI staff is meeting and discussing with other community leadership program leaders to determine how we can play a significant role in reigniting the national movement by connecting the 750,000 alumni across the country – a growing network of servant leaders conditioned to explore complex systems and seek common ground and compromise for solutions to big problems.

This past November in Nashville, TN, Michelle Carr, LRI’s Deputy Director, and I pitched the need to reunite the country through our alumni networks to the heads of 16 other statewide leadership programs. We received a warm welcoming response. Interested programs so far through that meeting and others include Cape Cod, Pioneer Valley, Maine, Greater Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indiana, Evansville, North Carolina, Sandy Springs, Marion, New Jersey, Chicago, Tennessee, Knoxville, Kentucky, Kansas, South Dakota, and Denver.

Leadership Program leadership we’ve spoken with all share a growing concern about the entrenched divisions across america and we intend to play a role in nurturing more unity across the country. Invoking the spirit of all that Alexis de Tocqueville first observed and admired about America — our exceptionalism first noted right in Newport, RI — the Xi II Class, board and staff, and our alumni are spearheading our latest 3-year effort, which will culminate in 2020, our 40th anniversary.

Please thank the 2015, 2016, and 2017 alumni of Leadership Rhode Island for their actions. Their accomplishments not only made direct measurable positive impact on Rhode Island, but serve as the foundation from which we kick off our next three years.

If you’d like to get involved, please email us at