News from the Top

Stronger Together


I am writing to you from New York City, where the 2020 Emerging Leader Cohort is finishing their in-person training—culminating in a two-year extended ELF (Emerging Leader Fellowship) experience that included months of online education before this week’s in-person experience. Soon the 2021 cohort will arrive to complete their journey just when you are reading this message.

It has been a whirlwind couple of days for the first group this week. They are beginning with in-depth learning on how to respect historical culture while innovating for the future in the Meatpacking District. They were introduced to district assessment tools in Jackson Heights and how to manage public space in Times Square. The program’s final district experience at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership focused on place-based economic development, culminating with a reflective walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan.   

The impact of a hybrid ELF program on the group’s ability to bond remained a question leading up to this week. We had to question whether two days on the ground, compared to the traditional whole week’s experience in New York, was sufficient to allow the group to establish a sense of trust and camaraderie that drives continual support for one another for years in the future – a defined purpose of ELF. Fortunately, I witnessed what may have become an even more robust, more unified group than imaginable. The many hours of online engagement over many months seem to have nurtured relationships that accelerated once the cohort met in person this week.   

Early on, we knew a generation of founding CEOs from the 1990s would begin to retire, and the next generation of skilled leaders would be in demand. We did not foresee the cataclysmic shift in the trajectory of our cities and organizations due to a global pandemic. Since 2016 over 175 place management professionals have completed the program, elevating to a senior executive role or taking on the top executive post in an organization. History has proven Emerging Leader Fellows are well-positioned to take on future challenges. This week further demonstrated a hybrid ELF experience shows no sign of slowing down the trajectory of our work.  

Most importantly, what I witnessed this week is a cohort of professional colleagues who leveraged a shared experience across the entirety of the pandemic and emerged even stronger. We are stronger together and prepared to address the mounting challenges ahead.