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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Leadership in Motion Winners Define Leadership

On December 16, I had the honor of presenting the 2013 COMPASS Leadership in Motion awards. The annual awards ceremony is always a highlight of the year at COMPASS, and for me personally.

In my August 5 blog, when we were just opening Leadership in Motion nominations, I posed the question of “what is a leader?” As I reviewed this year’s nominations and award recipients, it was clearly evident that the concept of “leader” and “leadership” were embodied in the projects and individuals we were honoring.

I’d like to share a few of my personal observations and experiences regarding this year’s recipients.

·         The Kuna Downtown Corridor Plan, a joint effort by the City of Kuna and Ada County Highway District, provides a model of how different agencies, with different missions, can work together to create a plan that meets the needs not just of the agencies themselves, but more importantly, the needs of the citizens. Being able to jointly work toward a common goal of meeting the citizens’ needs is exactly what “government” should do on a daily basis. However, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Both agencies showed tremendous leadership throughout the planning process to truly build a plan for the citizens of Kuna.

·         It takes vision to look at an old building and imagine what it might become; it takes true leadership to turn that imagined “what if” into a solid plan that not only preserves an old historic building, but also provides much-needed local amenities. The Historic Mercy Hospital Plan does just that. Unfortunately, history has shown that all too often good plans sit on shelves and gather dust. It is my sincere hope that this well thought-out plan will be implemented to turn that vision into reality.

·         The concept of serving the greater good through bicycles may sound far-fetched, until you see what the Boise Bicycle Project has done. Many people and organizations promote biking, but the Boise Bicycle Project goes far beyond advocacy…the organization provides lessons on bike safety, classes on bike commuting, and free and reduced cost bikes for children and others in need. The organization does much more than support biking; they support the community.

·         Janie Burns was asked to join the COMPASS Communities in Motion 2040 Planning Team in 2012 to represent agriculture and farmland interests. While Janie is a farmer, community volunteer, and a passionate advocate for local foods and farmland preservation, she is not a transportation planner and she did not have to say “yes,” when asked to serve. Yet, she did say “yes,” and took on this new role with gusto, attending meetings, asking questions, participating in work groups, and providing valuable input and insight that have helped to create a better, more thoughtful plan. Janie demonstrates leadership and the willingness to lead by getting her hands dirty (literally as well as figurative) on a daily basis.

·         I have had the honor of working with Kathleen Lacey and seeing her in action over many years.  While her professional accomplishments are impressive, Kathleen the person―the leader―is even more so. Kathleen is someone who leads by example; as an individual, she “walks the walk” of the principles she espouses in her professional life. Even beyond that, Kathleen exhibits leadership simply through who she is. She is a consummate professional who truly is a team player—she is respectful, thoughtful, and gracious with everyone she interacts with. Kathleen embodies “leadership” simply by being herself.


·         Senator Brackett may seem like an unlikely recipient of a COMPASS Leadership in Motion award.  After all, technically, he doesn’t represent Ada or Canyon Counties. However, it is exactly that that demonstrates his leadership—he is looking beyond his jurisdiction at the big picture and advocating for increased transportation funding, which will benefit the entire State of Idaho, including Ada and Canyon Counties. It takes a courageous leader to strive for the common good, no matter how difficult the task may be.

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Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho

COMPASS is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for transportation planning in Ada and Canyon Counties. The COMPASS Board comprises 39 members representing the cities, counties, highway districts, educational institutions, state agencies, and other entities within the two counties. COMPASS plays an important role in making decisions about future long-range transportation needs in the Treasure Valley, taking into consideration environmental and economic factors that affect the quality of life.