Saturday, January 09, 2010

Inclusive Leadership Award for 2009

This is to show appreciation for a person who leads with the people and for the people in a way that engages all of the people.

Cory Booker
I don’t remember the first time I heard about Cory Booker, but I remember being fascinated by him when I heard he became the Mayor of Newark, NJ and moved into a housing development in the city. Beyond that, I cannot remember what else attracted me, but I was truly intrigued.

This year, I began following Cory Booker on Twitter. Yes, he’s the mayor of Newark and I’m in Dallas, but I reviewed his tweets before following him and found that they always offered something interesting—whether an inspirational quote, a challenge to do community service, or an update on the community night patrol Newark has instituted to decrease crime.

What impressed me even more, though, was that, as the Mayor, he was right there in the middle of everything. He wasn’t just trying to inspire others to fight crime, help their neighbor, or pick up their trash. His tweets asked people to participate *with* him in the Night Patrols, shoveling snow when the weather got bad, and pulling people over to make them pick up their trash when they threw it out the window of their car. Just in case you might think it was his press secretary suggesting he was doing all of these activities, he has responded to people assuring them that it is him sending the tweets and his youtube videos posted along with his tweets set him right in the middle of people dancing (or trying to) and doing funny interviews with people. His twitter comments demonstrate his belief that all people, all faiths, and all ethnicities are valued.

I’m not impressed by arrogant or self-promoting politicians; however, I get the feeling that Cory Booker isn’t like that. Newark has over 281,000 people, not a huge city by any means, but it Booker’s accessibility, personability, and humility makes me think that Newark is a small town, much like the town of 707 where I grew up. I get the impression that Booker is simply a person who went off to prestigious schools but has made a choice to use his knowledge, education, and influence to improve a small city of 281,000. His willingness to initiate activities and engage in the activities himself is a novel idea that it has drawn national attention. I have hopes that more mayors and people across our nation will be led by his influence and begin engaging on a personal level with the people they serve as well.
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