I Heart Pittsburgh!

(Part 3: Community-Driven Tour 2008.  To read these posts from the beginning of this 2+ month tour, click here.)

I know this post will be long, so I will be breaking it up over the next several days. It is a story within a story, with other stories woven throughout. But I must share the extreme high that has been our week in Pittsburgh.

It will be hard to tell this story without first explaining why we have loved being in Pittsburgh, long before this trip. And that is the story of our relationship with Duquesne University.

Here is that story, as told by Michael Kumer, dean of Duquesne’s Masters in Community Leadership program. Years ago, when Duquesne’s School of Leadership decided to develop its Nonprofit Leadership Institute and asked Michael to head that entity, he went searching for “nonprofit wisdom.” He found Charity Channel, which is where he found me.

The story as told by Michael’s staff is that shortly after Michael’s encounters with my work the staff began referring to me as Michael’s “girlfriend,” as he was so often quoting me, reading my work aloud to them, sharing it with everyone he knew.

The story Michael told me when we finally met by phone was that my writings had “electrified” their program.

And finally, as Michael shared when he introduced me to a group of 80 community leaders last week, “If you have been curious about the different approaches we have always taken here at the NLI, the woman you are about to meet is the cause of every one of those approaches. Everything we have done at the NLI is modeled after her work.”

How does one live up to the expectations of such a long-time, devoted fan? Michael makes it easy. He is the most gracious and generous spirit I have ever encountered.

Our official work with Duquesne has evolved over time. Going on 2 years ago, we facilitated the School of Leadership staff through a Community Impact Plan, providing the strategic framework for transforming their Masters degree program in Community Leadership. Since that planning, the program is indeed different from what it looked like before we arrived, as they have begun aiming all their courses at the values and vision they articulated during that intensive week of work back in 2007. It has been fun to watch the change, down to their adoption of Community-Driven language into their course catalog!

Since that time, Dimitri and I have joined the faculty of the School of Leadership, teaching a course titled “Creating the Future of Your Community.” This is the distance learning course some of you have heard us crow about – students who included the most amazing people doing amazing work, dispersed all across the country.

Following that extraordinary experience, Michael joined the group that assembled in Tucson last June, to help us craft the Consultant Curriculum for the Community-Driven Institute. Through this confluence of working relationships, Michael has become one of our most energetic and passionate compadres in building strong programs to make visionary community change practical. Every conversation we have with Michael is enlivening, pushing the edges of what is possible.

Given all this as background, when Michael knew we were going to be journeying across the country, he invited us to spend time in Pittsburgh. And now, we are excited to see not just Michael, but the whole School of Leadership and Nonprofit Leadership Institute team, who have become our colleagues, clients, true co-conspirators in the Community-Driven journey, and best of all, friends.

It is late in the day Tuesday when we leave for Pittsburgh, directly after our workshop in Monroe, Michigan (another wonderful stop in a beautiful place with a fabulous sposor – the River Raisin Institute. Oh if only I had time to blog about everywhere we have been!!!).  It is 11pm as we are finally arriving in Pittsburgh. In just 12 hours, we will be having lunch with Michael and two of his staff – Allison Jones and Carmen Rios…

Click here for Part 2 of I Heart Pittsburgh!

Thanks to Pittsburgh Citizens for Better Libraries for the great photo of Michael in action!

3 Responses to I Heart Pittsburgh!

  1. Reading these posts, it’s as if we’re in your back-seat tagging along! Thanks for sharing your travel adventures – look forward to reading more! 😀

  2. Romina:
    We wish you WERE with us! Next time we are in Toronto, we are looking forward to the official tour (although we took so many of your suggestions, you were certainly with us in spirit). Hildy