How to be resilient during a period of major change was among timely lessons learned by 20 students in Hamilton’s Levitt Leadership Institute (LLI) during their visit to Washington, D.C., during spring break.
LLI is a two-week intensive leadership training program aimed at helping students recognize, develop and practice leadership skills needed for creating personal and societal change. The first week is spent on campus engaging in discussion and exercises about leadership skills. The second week, in Washington D.C., provides meetings and networking opportunities with leaders in a variety of public sectors.
The leadership team from the program's first week, including Prudence Bushnell, former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and Guatemala, Director of the Education Studies Program Susan Mason and student leaders Sarah Hogoboom ’17 and James Mesiti ’17 joined the students in Washington.
Levitt Leaders learned about resilience firsthand at a visit to the EPA where they spoke with Matthew Marks ’05 and Allison Hoppe. Marks has worked on the Clean Air Act and Clean Power Plan, and Hoppe is tasked with issues of federal Indian law. The two keep up hope and remain dedicated to their jobs despite the opposing views of the new EPA administrator and the large budget cuts proposed for the organization by President Trump.
Robert Clay, vice president of global health at Save the Children, provided sound advice to the Levitt Leaders. He said “fail fast; every leader makes mistakes, but it’s how you come back from those failures that determines whether you’re a good leader.” Clay has worked in Zambia and India, helping improve development and public health in these countries. He shared insight on his role as a leader there.
At Vox.com the students met with the co-founder Matt Yglesias, and Sarah Schultz, the communications director at Young Invincibles, a nonprofit that focuses on getting millennials’ voices heard more on Capitol Hill. They stressed that communication and teamwork within any organization is important to bring everyone together to remember their purpose.
Antwan Wilson, the new chancellor of the D.C. public schools, provided an inspiring message to conclude the students’ trip. He believes education is a non-disputable human right and that it should be available to all children. Wilson said “You are the only person who can set limits for yourself,” a impactful message for the group.
The Levitt Leadership group also visited the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and other Washington monuments, and in their free time the student leaders took the group to the Spy Museum, a Wizards basketball game and some great restaurants in Georgetown.