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A Word from the Executive Director

The response to the More Kindness Challenge from last month's column has been very encouraging! Many of you echoed the same sentiment - a commitment to seek ways to show more kindness in everyday interactions. Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of the season and our own worlds that it's easy for even the most well-intentioned of us to overlook the little things that can make a big difference to others.

In the weeks since I undertook the challenge, I've found that I seriously underestimated the value of small words of acknowledgment to others, whether it's a smile and sincere thank you to a Salvation Army bell ringer or an "I'm thinking of you" text or email to friends and acquaintances facing a stressful time.

I plan to continue my More Kindness Challenge into the New Year. And I know if I need a little boost to keep me on track, I only have to look to my fellow Leadership Oakland (LO) members for inspiration. Their generosity and sense of responsibility to make the world around us better is continually at work. Last week, we held our annual Together We CAN event. More than 1,300 cans of food were collected from LO alumni and delivered to the Baldwin Center, a soup kitchen in Pontiac. Also in this newsletter, you'll see an update on how last year's class (LOXXVI) project continues to provide a local, urban community with fresh produce.

As we wrap up 2016 and head into 2017, I'd like to express my appreciation for you and the entire Leadership Oakland community. I'm excited for what's ahead! May you find peace and comfort in this holiday season. 

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Register for BOC_

bocYoung Professionals Panel 
The Changing Face of Leadership

February 21, 2017 | 7:30 a.m - 9:00 a.m

Moderator: Jennifer Korman, LOXIX, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services

The face of leadership is changing as a new generation begins to ascend. These bright, innovative professionals definitely have some ideas of their own. This is one of our most popular events! In a special panel discussion, they'll share their views on leadership, success, how to work effectively with them, and what it takes to be an impactful leader. We also will be joined by Brooks Patterson's Elite 40 for this event.

Location: MSU Management Education Center
811 W. Square Lake Road, Troy, MI 48098


Talisa Norton, LOXXVII
Co-Owner / Chief Operating Officer
All Pro Color
Sara Stoddard, LOXXIV
Chief of Emergency Management
Oakland County Homeland Security Division
Jordan Twardy, LOXXV
Community & Economic Development
City of Ferndale
Cost of Single Session: 
$32 LOAA Member
$36 Non-LOAA Member/General Public

Thank you to our breakfast sponsor:

Joyce Jenereaux 
Staying Relevant in a Noisy World

April 4, 2017 | 7:30 a.m - 9:00 a.m

With the world whirring at warped speed most days, how does a leader keep up and stay relevant? Perhaps no one knows that challenge better than Joyce Jenereaux, former publisher and president of the Detroit Free Press and Joyce successfully navigated the digital revolution to transform the traditional newspaper to meet the needs of today's hyper-connected society. Recently retired and on to new ventures, she'll share the leadership and business lessons she learned along the way.

Location: MSU Management Education Center
811 W. Square Lake Road, Troy, MI 48098

Cost of Single Session: 
$32 LOAA Member
$36 Non-LOAA Member/General Public
duesDues Challenge: Who is really 'the best class ever'?

Don't miss your chance to put your class on the leader board when we share our update the first week of January 2017.

Pay your dues today after checking to see if your organization does a company match. Regular dues are only $50 but consider upgrading a level for more benefits and to give more support to LO.

Remember, if there is a tie, the class with the most money paid will win the trophy, a year of bragging rights AND free admission for the entire class to the 2017 Taste of LO event.
LOXXVII : Health & Environment Session

The Cornerstone program is where leaders go to learn about all the resources in Oakland County.

The Health & Environment session's objectives are to provide an overview of health and environmental issues, challenges and resources, and to identify opportunities for personal and professional involvement in supporting wellness and the future health of our environment.

"The environmental piece was helpful and I learned things I didn't know.  The medical panel was informative as well."
              -LOXXVII member

Thank you to our session sponsors:

Together We DID!

Alumni Event

More than 40 LO Alumni gathered for our annual Together We CAN event held every December after the Health & Environment session. This year's event was at Granite City in Troy and yielded more than 1,300 cans for the Baldwin Center. So which class had the most donations?

Congratulations go to LOXXVII! Thank you to all our classes and LOAA members for partying with a purpose.

Alumni Spotlight

Jenenne Whitfield, LOXVI
Executive Director, The Heidelberg Project

Here's how I do it!

This year the Heidelberg Project celebrates 30 years of artistic excellence. As executive director of this extraordinary outdoor art environment for 23 years, I have had the pleasure and pain of steering the organization through five mayoral administrations, two bulldozing efforts by the city of Detroit and twelve fires throughout 2013 and 2014. Yet, in spite of all of our adversity, what we have achieved surpasses our obstacles by leaps and bounds. Personally, I have never been more proud!

And, you can bet along the way, I have met some wonderful people and experienced many growth opportunities that I must credit for helping me to reach the level that I have experienced thus far. One such opportunity was my experience in LO class of XVI, out of which grew friendships and experiences that are with me today. So when I was asked to contribute to LO's December 2016 newsletter, I was happy to oblige.

Often, I am asked, how we do it. People want to know, where our strength comes from to keep going in the face of such adversity. I always hoped that I could answer this question in a way that it might reach more than a few people because I believe that it is vitally important, especially in these particular times. It's no secret that this recent election has shaken the entire world, and irrespective of how you voted, the world as we have known it is definitely going to change. However, the way in which things change has less to do with one man in a particular position, and much more to do with how we think, and what we will do about those changes, as individuals.

I digress. When I was a child, I questioned everything. I always wanted to understand "why." In fact my mother once told me that I was her "why" child and that often got me in trouble. As I grew into womanhood, I kept asking why, of course. In fact, asking why is how I ended up working with the Heidelberg Project. As a woman working in this particular field, there were (and are) barriers, and as an African American woman, those barriers are tripled. However, barriers would soon become my best friend, and my triumphant stepping stones.

So when I think about changes that I don't agree with, or obstacles or challenges, I challenge myself to shift my consciousness to turn them into tools for growth. Trust me, when I say that it takes practice and it is painful, but it works. Here are a few metaphors to illustrate my point. Have we ever considered that the process to clean clothes in a washing machine is called 'agitate'? Do we ever think that in order to get light, we need a negative and a positive charge? Think about what causes a pair of shoes to shine. It's a beating and buffing process, right? From these natural examples, we can see that agitation, negativity, and buffing, much like the psychological effects of challenges and obstacles, can become tools for growth depending on how you think about them.

So when I am asked how we get through the tough times, now you know! I take what might be considered a negative situation, I shift my consciousness, add in a bit of courage and I keep moving. Someone once said, when you are going through hell, keep walking.
Day of Service - Update

Leadership Oakland's LOXXVI class fundraised and volunteered with Micah 6 and helped them build a greenhouse to support their 34 Newberry gardens. Since then Micah 6 has planted another 20 fruit trees, built a really nice 20x100 hoop house, and laid new timber in the gardens. Learn more about the great organization we partnered with, Micah6 Community.

SponsorshipShowcase Your Company

Maximize your company's visibility by becoming a Cornerstone, Breakfast of Champions, Taste of LO or Jr. LO sponsor. We have packages to fit every budget and can work directly with you to ensure that we meet your marketing or community involvement needs. Contact Susan Hollady at  for more information.

Thank you to our premier sponsors:

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