Student leaders from Cuyahoga Community College gathered for a highly participatory leadership retreat on September 22 at the Hospitality Management Center. These students engaged in different activities to recognize their ability to lead. Participants also evaluated their perceptions and biases about leadership in small group activities. The facilitators generated discussions and activities regarding the difficulties of decision-making, then participants completed the activities, considering different decision-making approaches. It was made clear that different decisions aren’t necessarily wrong, since leaders have different perspectives.
Everyone’s decision should be respected. A series of team-building exercises showed students how working in a team can be fun and engaging. Students experienced the power of teamwork by working together and examining the dynamics of their team. They learned it’s incumbent upon the leader to ensure the team is working toward a common goal. The activities taught student leaders that teamwork is necessary for the most effective outcome, and clear communication is critical.
Time was allotted within each activity for a short debriefing session, where the facilitator helped students articulate the teamwork concepts illustrated by that activity. In the middle of the retreat, a discussion panel was held featuring three noteworthy speakers:
Bob DiBiasio, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs with the Cleveland Indians; Geralyn Presti, a Board Trustee of Tri-C and President/CEO of the Music Settlement; and Monique Menefee-Profitt, a Tri-C alumna and veteran of the U.S. Air Force pursuing her PhD.
Each speaker shared leadership experiences from their professional and personal lives. They imparted nuggets of wisdom regarding leadership mistakes, their biggest risks, work-life balance, and resources to help make students into better leaders. After the students enjoyed a wonderful lunch prepared by Tri-C’s hospitality team, Kimberly LoVano from the Cleveland Food Bank shared data related to food insecurity, housing, health, and employment in northeast Ohio. Her passion is to understand and address the issues impacting hunger.
LoVano also shared the processes and procedures needed to obtain food from the Food Bank and how the Cleveland Food Bank networks with other agencies to help combat hunger. The retreat’s structure was a combination of didactic, experiential, and self-directed learning. It was active, intentional, and impactful. This retreat made students think about what makes a great leader, and how to become one themselves.