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September 27, 2021
A Journey Through LEAD Hampton Roads
By Thomas Marsden – Graduate of LHR 2018 – The Best Class Ever!
- What are the jewels of Hampton Roads?
- Have you ever seen a submarine, or an aircraft carrier being built?
- How do all the cities and towns of Hampton Roads make decisions together?
- Did you know you can walk under the road in all the tunnels?
- Have you taken a tour of one of the military bases in our region?
- Can you name all the theatres and museums in the area?
- How do non-profits in Hampton Roads work to better the area?
- What are some of the challenges facing our region?
The above questions are just a sample of those that were answered and discussed during LEAD Hampton Roads. I first became aware of this great program through many of the State of the Region sessions sponsored by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. From that exposure it was something I knew I had to be a part of, and through the training benefit at Marathon Consulting, this was made possible.
In this 30th year of LEAD, a group of 50 leaders were assembled into the class. All of those people will tell you we are the “Best Class Ever,” something that you will hear from every LEAD alumni. Any candidates who apply to the program are carefully selected to create a diverse class containing leaders from different professions, industries, backgrounds, experience, and gender. The program is designed for experienced leaders seeking to expand their circles of influence, their knowledge of the inner workings of Hampton Roads and their opportunities to serve. Through my experience in the program, it succeeded in achieving that mission.
The LEAD program runs from October to May holding monthly retreats. In those retreats we focus on a specific topic like infrastructure, transportation, economic development, tourism, and culture. The great part of the program is we get exposure to regional leaders to hear about those specific topics straight from people involved in the decisions. The program is also very hands on, and we get to see and touch the topics we are talking about. The executive director of LEAD, Angela Blackwell Carter, along with Jim Carr guide the class discussion’s keeping the focus on the critical questions.
The main theme of for this year’s class was innovation. This translated into talking about innovation that has occurred in our region through discussions with the class and the various presenters. When you dig deeper into the theme you realize that Hampton Roads has a long history of innovation and is poised for considerable growth in the future. This topic gave us a focus for projects we worked on as a class that we felt conveyed that history. In addition, the theme resonated with me personally as I am involved with many new technological innovations through our Marathon client projects, and I was able to share some of those ideas with the class.
Participation with LEAD Hampton Roads is just one example of how Marathon contributes to the communities of Hampton Roads. As a leading IT consulting firm in Hampton Roads, we feel an important connection to the region and we felt that LEAD would give us exposure to other areas we can help with. This is also an example of our commitment to training - not only at a technical level, but also at a leadership level, and how it can benefit our employees including myself. In the future we hope that more Marathon leaders can participate in the program.
The culmination of this event occured during graduation at Bravo! On May 31st. In addition to the graduation, the Gov. Ralph Northam was honored as the first citizen of Hampton Roads, Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, was honored with the LEAD Alumni award, and Del. Jay Jones received the ICON Young Professional LEADership Award. I enjoyed taking part in the graduation ceremonies and am looking forward to applying some of the lessons learned at Marathon and across other interests in different organizations in Hampton Roads. Upon graduation, the call to action for LEAD Graduates is to apply what we have learned into our careers and community. One example of that is to serve upon a local board and give back to the community. There are many distinguished alumni that have graduated from LEAD over the 30 years of the program and they have significantly contributed to Hampton Roads and the state. I hope I can follow that example and make an impact our region’s future as well.
For more information on LEAD please see the links below: