The Role of the Aspen Institute as a Forum for Empowering Leaders


I’ve been associated with the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Society for 14 years and co-chaired the Steering Committee for this program from 2006-2008.  James Beldock, who is both a Socrates Society alumnus and an Aspen Institute Crown Fellow, recently posted on his blog about the important role the Aspen Institute plays in developing strong leaders.

In his post, James draws a parallel between private sector CEO leadership qualities evident in comments made by Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee as they discussed how they approached significant challenges:

Mayor Reed, a Rodel Fellow of the Institute, and Chancellor Rhee spoke candidly about the leadership challenges they face.  When asked by David Gergen (who doesn’t know how to ask an easy question) how he handled the structurally unsound pension liability that he faced literally within weeks of stepping into the Atlanta mayor’s office, Mayor Reed provided the evening’s most clear moment of “cross-fertilization.”  He put his CEO hat on and described the meetings he had with union leaders in which he explained the financial realities—just as a CEO must when he must change benefits or even adjust the size of his workforce.  Especially in today’s age of tight budgets and high unemployment, financial pragmatism may not be popular, but it affords a serious public leader a unique opportunity:  to make difficult decisions which result in long-term benefits, even if they attract short-term criticism.

To read the full post, click HERE.

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