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We Can All Be Leaders for a Better Baltimore

View of Balitmore harbor.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Baltimore Business Journal’s CEO of the Year & Power 10 awards dinner. I was proud to see Ellin & Tucker’s long-time friend and partner, Ed St. John, founder and current chairman of St. John Properties, was honored with the CEO Lifetime Achievement Award. Ed and the other honorees represented a variety of industries and included both veteran and emerging leaders. Words like honesty, communication, confidence, innovation, creativity, and intuition were used often to describe the group.

But as I listened to the guests of honor share their experiences, I noticed a common thread in their definition of leadership. They certainly all represent the traditional traits, but there is something else far more important. These individuals have each used their influence to impact their communities and focus on something broader than themselves or the companies they represent. They believe in the Greater Baltimore region and are staking their company’s success on that belief.

This is the model of great leadership that we should follow: immersing ourselves in our communities, for good, and for change.

There is a lot of exciting development happening in and around Baltimore right now that is being fueled by many of the people who were honored that night. Towson Row to the north, McHenry Row and Trade Point Atlantic to the south, Greenleigh at Crossroads to the east, and Owings Mills Town Center to the west. There’s also a great deal of activity in surrounding counties. Howard County is bustling with the renovation of Merriweather Post Pavilion and the re-zoning and planned development of Downtown Columbia to be a walkable, mixed-use district. This goes far beyond simply constructing new buildings. We’re redeveloping the way we live, work, and play with Baltimore City at the center of it all.

Now is the time to harness that energy and expand our leadership. And you don’t need to be a titan of industry to make it happen. Here’s how.

We need to invest in education at all levels to ensure that our children have a chance at creating the future of their dreams. While ideal for some, college is not suited for everyone. We must provide opportunities for learning at every turn of life – whether it be apprenticeships, internships, vocational training, or something new. Let’s open our doors to people who want to learn!

To get there, we also need to address pressing social issues. It starts by being more inclusive with opportunities to ensure that a wide range of people from across the socioeconomic spectrum have the opportunity to access these tools for success.

Economic inclusion, the most impactful area of social change, will only happen when these items are met and supported.

The good news? You don’t have to be Ed St. John to make an impact. A small-business owner, manager, or professional of any kind can mentor, volunteer, guide, and support those eager to learn and grow.

Helping just one person is a profound achievement, and 100-percent more impactful than helping no one at all. Leadership is accessible – it only takes our collective commitment and passion.

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