By Lila A. Jaber
Chair, Leadership Florida
Leadership Florida: Members Building a Better Florida for 30 Years
In three decades, Florida has blossomed from a significant state of about 10 million residents to a bustling mega-state of almost 19 million. In part, this transformation has been guided by Leadership Florida, a non-profit organization that develops leaders with a statewide, rather than parochial, view of Florida’s needs – all for the purpose of making Florida a better place in which to live and prosper.
As members of the 30th class of Leadership Florida wrap up their sessions, I am pleased to take the opportunity to congratulate the Leadership Florida staff, led by Wendy Abberger, and all of our 1,500-plus members for their dedication to this organization and most importantly, to our state.
The strength of this respected organization is in its non-partisanship – or, perhaps more accurately, its multi-partisanship and in its diversity. Leadership Florida brings together leaders from diverse industries, communities, philosophies and perspectives. For 30 years, Leadership Florida has successfully convened leaders in order to educate on the critical issues facing our state and to motivate on finding solutions to build a better state for all. By building trust and alliances within this group of leaders, Leadership Florida helps produce a better future for all of Florida. From industry CEOs and presidents of non-profits to the university presidents and government officials, “Leadership Florida is leadership in Florida.”
The ability to take a statewide perspective to pressing issues would be enough, by itself, to establish Leadership Florida as an indispensible resource. But the value doesn’t stop there. I have heard class members describe how they began the Leadership Florida process thinking of themselves as Miamians or Tallahasseans or Pensacolans, and now – thanks to their involvement in Leadership Florida – they see themselves as Floridians. In a state where only 30 percent of us were born here and Pensacola is only slightly closer to Key West than it is to Chicago, creating a sense of unity and cohesion is truly something significant.
Beyond that, the sense of community from diversity distinguishes Leadership Florida from any other organization in the state. Consider that the last four chairs of Leadership Florida cover the ethnic, political and religious landscape, and last year’s class included natives of Spain, Serbia, South Africa, the Philippines, Pakistan and Cuba, not to mention numerous states across the U.S. For 30 years, Leadership Florida and its members have built bridges across the divides of heritage, geography and political philosophy. To Leadership Florida, I say congratulations and happy anniversary.
I feel privileged for having the opportunity to serve this wonderful organization.
Lila A. Jaber, Chair of Leadership Florida 2011-2012, is a shareholder in the Government Affairs section of the Gunster Yoakley & Stewart Law FirmTweet