Every Dean likely holds a special affinity towards their cohort, and I am no exception. However, there was something distinctly different about the class I had the pleasure of guiding through their leadership journey. From the moment they gathered for the opening retreat, it was clear that they were not your average group of individuals. This group was going to be “spicy,” President Adriann Young and I realized. Instead of the usual awkward silences and tentative introductions that are expected when any new group of strangers meets, these newcomers immediately dove into robust conversations, laying the framework to forge deep relationships and foster in-depth conversations that would define our journey together.

Throughout each session, this class continued to impress and challenge one another and me through their questions and dialogue. They didn’t show up to passively absorb information; they came prepared to engage in deep thinking, challenge the status quo, assuming the best intent while pushing themselves, each other, me, and our county to new heights of thinking, doing, and being. Their commitment to thoughtful consideration and meaningful action is unparalleled.  It was an inspiration for me to have a front-row seat to witness their growth and development throughout the program.  

Kenneth H. Blanchard says, “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority,” HCLA has found a great formula for profound influence. Certainly, recognition should be given to the amazing vision and leadership of Diana Coyle. In addition, Carol Paddock works in great detail seamlessly behind the scenes to help put each class day together. Kudos to these two remarkable ladies who made my day much easier to show up and focus on fielding the questions and energy this class brought each month. 

In addition, it was evident that the Curriculum Committee has taken to task a keen review of the cohort experience since my time in 2018 adding a much more experiential and engaging model. In addition, the new strategic mission and values of Community, Learning, and Strategic Flexibility that HCLA launched with this class seemed to flow effortlessly into each month’s themes and conversations making them easy points of entry for engagement, reflection, or potential change or action. I applaud the Association as a whole and the direction it is headed. 

As my time as Dean comes to an end, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for this remarkable group of individuals. While I may not know exactly what is in store, one thing is certain: they are equipped with the knowledge, resources, and network provided by HCLA to make a significant impact in their respective spheres of influence – be it individually, family, career, or community.

As you read this, I encourage you to get to know this extraordinary class. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. They are a force to be reckoned with – a group of thought leaders and change-makers who are poised to make a difference in the world, starting here in my backyard. As they embark on their next chapters, I have no doubt they will continue to challenge, inspire, and lead with purpose and passion.

Congratulations to the HCLA Class of 2024! To the HCLA alum, may you welcome this class as you always do, providing a seat at the table to help make our community and county stronger, inclusive, and better for each person who resides here. Thank you for the honor of serving as Dean.