2020 was supposed to be our 30th Anniversary year, but like so many, we needed to pivot part way through our event planning and lead our community in a very different way.  In March we began a series of virtual Lunch and Learns and Happy Hours.  It was our way of staying connected to our alumni, help our community and be a safe place to learn with others.  As the pandemic progressed so did our engagement and virtual programs.  We brought in experts in self-care, education, health care, creativity, Zoom etiquette and more. By end of June, we had developed a new Cornerstone curriculum and delivery model, launched a remote learning Junior LO class.

We didn’t stop there.  LO staff guided our Cornerstone Anniversary Class LOXXX through their final class sessions – all remote – and completed the LOXXX class project by donating nearly $9,000 and 40 bedding sets to Sleep in Heavenly Peace after the class was unable to gather to build the beds themselves due to COVID restrictions.  The class and LO are hopeful that we will still be able host a socially distanced and appropriately celebratory graduation for this class.

Lastly, we recruited and launched the first remote Cornerstone class in Leadership Oakland history.  In September, Leadership Oakland staff, with the assistance of countless volunteers and Board members, launched Cornerstone LOXXXI.  The class of 37 began with a three ½ day retreat which ushered in a new experiential learning model.  To date, we have received feedback that points to an emphatic success, and this is attributed to the Leadership Oakland Board of Directors, staff and volunteers who were willing to embrace agility and forge ahead.

As I write this, I am happy to share that Leadership Oakland is in a strong position.  We have used this past year to learn from these unique and turbulent times, but we have also been able to position Leadership Oakland for success in an uncertain 2021 and beyond.   We have also demonstrated leadership on a National level as we are one of a select group of community leadership programs than devised and launched new and innovative approaches to a flagship program.  Thank you to all our volunteers, supporters, alumni, sponsors and Board for your continued leadership and support and I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2021.