Dippold: Leadership Toledo: Lead, connect, grow, serveWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
by Cory Dippold
Leadership Toledo is well known for challenging the participants in our adult and youth programs to step outside of their comfort zones — so I guess you can say that Restaurant Week Toledo (RWT) is an example of practicing what we preach!
For more than 35 years, Leadership Toledo has been respected for offering individuals an intensive, experiential, year-long opportunity for personal growth, professional development and community service. If that seems like a lot of words, let’s just say there are too many people in our region standing on the sidelines waiting for someone else to fix what’s broken.
At Leadership Toledo, we try to keep it simple — we help people identify their needs and connect people with time, resources and talents to get the job done. Recently, we further refined our mission statement to make it even simpler: Lead, Connect, Grow, Serve. For me, these four words say it all.
Almost five years ago, Leadership Toledo took the lead to create a new, signature event that could connect local restaurants and program partners and community volunteers to help sustain and further grow our nationally recognized and respected youth programs. All to better serve our community! Outside of our comfort zone — yes! Great potential — yes!
The Leadership Toledo Board of Trustees never showed the slightest hesitation. Restaurant Weeks are not a new concept. They’ve been successful in communities throughout the country. I have attended similar events throughout the Midwest. What has been interesting since the beginning, especially with all the diverse culinary experience our region has to offer, is that Leadership Toledo was the first to introduce the program to our area.
Staying true to our mission and recognizing that our small staff of four would need a lot of assistance, we moved quickly to “Connect” a dynamic team of volunteers. Trustees Becca Gorman and Margot Estes came on board in year two and have helped take us from infancy to unbelievable success. The committee did a lot of research on those elements that help Restaurant Weeks in other communities succeed — they made connections with restaurant owners, distributors, community partners and sponsors to add a unique flavor to Toledo’s annual event. Since the proceeds from RWT are earmarked for Leadership Toledo’s youth programs, we also expanded the committee to include young leaders from area high schools. Their perspective ensures that RWT appeals to all and keeps our ideas fresh!
One of the challenges that we pose to our adult and youth participants each year is to compose an “elevator speech” — you know, find a way to make your point in the time it takes for the elevator doors to close and open. So again, I am going to practice what I preach: Leadership Toledo provides an opportunity for youth and adults to Lead, Grow, Connect and Serve.
I hope you will join us in supporting the 30 locally owned restaurants participating in this year’s RWT, which is Feb. 24 through March 2.
Menus, hours and more information can be found at the website restaurantweektoledo.com.
Cory Dippold is associate executive director of Leadership Toledo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.