October is the beginning of this year’s Leadership El Paso, our first, fully face to face cohort since the pandemic started and I am very excited to welcome this class into the program. We have a competitive group, selected from a large pool of applicants, representing a wide range of industries, government, and the non-profit sector. I am especially pleased by the diversity in the group and their interest in building leadership capacity for El Paso. The first two sessions of LEP, the orientation held at the start of the month and the first session to be held Halloween weekend, bookend the loss of one of El Paso’s most visible and impactful leaders, former President of The University of Texas at El Paso, Dr. Diana Natalicio. As chief executive officer for UTEP for thirty-one years, it is clear from people’s stories over the last several weeks, that Dr. Natalicio’s presence and impact on the community is immeasurable. If there has ever been a moment to reflect on leadership, it is now.
The Chamber’s commitment to leadership and the expansion of a cohort of interconnected leaders from all sectors of the economy is best exemplified by our efforts with Leadership El Paso. Dr. Natalicio, an early participant and consistent supporter of LEP, recognized what we try to embody with our efforts for each class; leadership matters now, and it will continue to matter as individuals commit to connecting, advocating, and innovating for El Paso. Part of why I am so pleased by the diversity in the program is that through our efforts and those of our instructors, guest speakers, and site visit hosts, we are connecting and creating networks across the community. Leadership El Paso allows lawyers and architects to engage with educational advancement folks, who get to engage with medical professionals and businesspeople alongside nonprofit executives. The lessons that come from interacting and sharing perspectives, alone, will have positive impact for all participants and for the Chamber as well.
Of course, our efforts go far beyond casual interaction. The curriculum developed for this year’s cohort represents a departure from our previous efforts. Each session has been built around themes the Chamber works in everyday and that it supports through our many committees. This new approach to the curriculum allows our teaching faculty to share insight from a broader, more academically informed perspective while promoting engagement across the cohort. We will be plugging committee members into the instructional phase as well, allowing them to share their work from their respective committees with LEP. We have merged these new elements and themes with site visits to allow Leadership participants to see leadership in action, in the field, and from people they might not normally be able to engage with in their traditional job roles. The site visits, one of the most popular elements of LEP historically, allows the Chamber to create new networks, emphasize the role of a variety of institutions and businesses, and give participants an inside look at the mission and vision of quite a few organizations.
As you all know, I have a major belief in the idea of shared values and corporate/institutional responsibility to create strong value sets that bridge an entity and its stakeholders. It should be no surprise then that Leadership will kick off with a session on core leadership lessons and a primer of shared values. I am excited by the way that our values can be inculcated to the LEP cohort, particularly because as we coach on these concepts, I feel like cooperative, engaged conversations with the cohort, our guest speakers, and through site visits, we will innovate and adapt ideas to enhance the Chamber.
I am excited about leadership and Leadership El Paso, I am inspired by the example of Dr. Natalicio, and I am pleased that we have such a robust, yearlong agenda for this Leadership class. I look forward to hearing your suggestions and welcome your participation as a speaker or site host for this year’s class.