A Pivot and a Preview
What does 2020-2021 hold for Leadership Birmingham?
Of course, Leadership Birmingham isn’t immune to the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like every other organization, we have redirected our path forward to help protect health and safety. Last August, when the number of COVID cases in Jefferson County was still climbing, a group of board members and alumni unanimously agreed to postpone the launch of last fall’s class until September 2021.
This “gap year” has been a unique opportunity for Leadership Birmingham to explore innovative programming that still educates us on topical events and issues. Surprisingly, it also has strengthened personal connections. Meeting on Zoom may not be the best way for a group of strangers to get to know each other, but it’s a great tool to reconnect and revisit with people you know. Much of our “new” programming has been so well received that we plan for much of it to continue even after we physically reconvene with a class.
Here are a few things we have done and what to look forward to in 2021:
- Alumni participation in discussions of critical issues: In a sense, all of our alumni are this year’s class. You have joined us as we examine topics inspired by our monthly program days. For example, in October we hosted a Zoom discussion about election-related topics with former state representative Paul DeMarco (’07) and political strategist John Saxon (’94). Our November virtual session featured Trisha Crain, the Alabama Media Group’s education reporter, and Molly Killingsworth, director of federal programs for the Alabama State Department of Education, sharing insights on teaching and learning today. Visit our upcoming program days here.
- More racial equity education:Your response to our “Moving Forward” virtual conversations about systemic racism led by the Class of 2020 was overwhelmingly positive, and many of you suggested that they last longer, feature more voices, and include practical takeaways. I hope you’ll join the Class of 2014 beginning January 28 for their podcast listen and discussion around season 2 of Scene on Radio titled “Seeing White.”
- New ways to interact with classmates: Leadership Birmingham classes are reconnecting via Zoom Happy Hour Reunions – some complete with vintage photos and virtual toasts. Let us know if you want to host your class reunion.
We want to hear your ideas and thoughts as well. What programs should Leadership Birmingham provide this year? What topics or issues should we highlight? What skills and strategies would you like to learn? We look forward to seeing you soon—virtually, of course.
Libba Vaughan, Executive Director