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Harvard University's Senior Executives in State and Local Government
From Justin Clifton, City Manager, City of Sedona
It was the third night of the Harvard Senior Executives in State and Local Government program when it hit me. I was lying in my room reading chapters from Leadership on the Line, coauthored by Marty Linsky. Linsky, who had led some of our early lectures, had a unique Socratic style that was borderline antagonistic. Reading his book I was awestruck. Had I ever displayed the kind of leadership he was talking about? I recognized many of the distractions that he claims keep us complacent and unwilling to take bolder risks. I wanted to disagree. I wanted to remain confident that I was at Harvard because I was worthy, not because I had a lot to learn. But Linsky saw right through me. That night I realized the program was not a reward but an opportunity. And it was not informative; it was transformative.

I had many other "ah-ha!" moments during the program. I was challenged to think deeply about my own assumptions. I refined my concept of public value and honed my negotiating skills. I threw out and rebuilt my playbook on group decision making and problem solving. And I was moved to tears when Ron David presented a compelling case for greater compassion in public service.

I learned with a group of diverse participants from around the world. Together we strategized with elected leaders from Mexico and Venezuela dealing with deadly violence. We debriefed with a North Miami administrator regarding the public shooting of a black man caring for an autistic child by one of his police officers that very day. Even a hypothetical "race car" scenario became very real when it was revealed to be a case study based on NASA's decision to launch the Challenger in 1986.

Each day I encountered something profound. And now that I'm home, it's almost each day that I refer back to something I learned at Harvard. I could never say "thank you" enough to ACMA and all the sponsors for making this once in a lifetime opportunity possible! Harvard changed me forever, and I'll forever be grateful!

From Jeff Tyne, Deputy City Manager, City of Peoria
The State and Local Leadership program has had a profound effect on me, both at a professional and personal level. Unlike the normal professional development path, this program focused on the seasoned veteran, offering a fresh and holistic perspective on the world around them. By presenting historical viewpoints, developing our social understanding, and identifying new governance trends, the program equipped our group with important knowledge and tools to lead our organizations.

However just as important, the Kennedy program places a huge emphasis on the individual. I was constantly challenged to express my personal beliefs, to question my career identity, to recognize my strengths, and to acknowledge my flaws. Needless to say this isn't easy to do in front of 60 overachieving strangers! Yet, as the program went on, I soon connected with my colleagues, and gained a trust in this talented faculty.

The end of the program carries with it a mix of emotions. All of us had to part from this artificial "ecosystem" of new friendships and networks. Yet to a person, we carried back with us a sense of energy and inspiration. I find myself eager to share the insights and experiences with my colleagues, and to find ways to apply theoretical constructs to everyday challenges.
Arizona City/County Management Association
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