Commit to Lead & Serve Day 2021

The day was held at ClearPath for Veterans and the class was welcomed by classmates Chuck Brooks & Chris Lindstrand

The day started with a moment of silence for classmate Mike Dunne who was a veteran and who passed away a few weeks prior to class

The theme for the class was Lead, Go, Serve – Charge to continue from here.


Our Legendary Leader” with LGS Founder, Chuckie Holstein

Introduction of Chuckie by Chris Lindstrand

Chuckie congratulated the class and shared how LGS started: due to lifestyle changes in community in regard to apathy in community, lack of positivity, women shifting more towards work and away from volunteering, and lack of leadership in volunteering.

It took a year to develop the program and convince herself and key community members that this was a good idea. Found most leadership programs focused on Chamber of Commerce with business focus.  Designed a more holistic program one-year long program to include public, private and non-governmental organizations, with representatives from the broadest regional participation.  Chuckie worked tirelessly to get support of City of Syracuse and Onondaga County, which she did, as well as local major employers, and development of board of directors with organizational plan.  Chuckie discussed how her personal Jewish tradition of charity and the Haudenosaunee tradition of individual responsibility to community, shaped her vision, and her hope that the graduates of LGS apply similar philosophies to the community. Her desire is that in the future the LGS program be tuition free, a future youth leadership program, and citizens academy – with a network throughout the greater Syracuse community.  Chuckie desires all LGS graduates to be citizen-trustees.  Chuckie’s personal presented her personal beliefs in a handout.

“Clear Path – Where We’re From and Where We’re Headed”

Introduced by: Joe Rocco

Guest Speakers: Alex Behm, Executive Director, Clear Path for Veterans, LGS ‘21

Melissa Spicer, Co-Founder, Clear Path for Veterans

Ryan Woodruff, Canine Program Director, Clear Path for Veterans

Melissa presented how she was drawn to volunteering and community services. Driven to improve at her first job, Campus Hill Apartments, and pushed herself very hard.   Post-911 she got a dog, and shifted her focus to doggie daycare and training.  Given a chance encounter with a veteran, he helped her discover her WHY, and it changed her life.  Message – military and farmers are alike; everyone appreciates them but does not want to do it.  Warrior culture has existed forever, serve while we live our life, and community has an obligation to prepare for their return so they can continue to lead and serve.

Alex Behm discussed his why, experienced as a Marine Corps veteran returning to a community where he had support from family, seeing firsthand other veterans needing support in many ways. His why is realized in the mission of Clear Path, and all the services they provide.

Ryan Woodruff described the ClearPath canine training program, it’s growth and development. A video was shown highlighting veterans experience with their service animals. Demonstration of service canine training was held during the break.

“Leading With Your Why”

Moderator: Sheena Solomon, Executive Director, Gifford Foundation

Introduced by: Haji Adan

Guest Speakers: Melanie Littlejohn, Vice President, National Grid, LGS ‘94

Andrew Maxwell, MPA, Senior Program Manager & Innovation Strategist,

C&S Companies, LGS ‘09

Maureen McCarthy Tracy, Senior Account Exec., Northland Communications, LGS ‘01

Will Nicholson, Program Manager, AccessCNY, LGS ‘19

1 – What is your why, and how has LGS influenced your why –

Service and leadership not about titles. It’s about conduct, behavior and how you influence people. Listen with the intent to be influenced. Sense of service.  “Why” can grow organically, or grow stronger; service and advocacy make a difference. Philosophical and spiritual underpinning of your why, with no ego. Leveraging personal power in driving your why.  Many people one crisis away from a disaster – help is needed.

2 – What improvements in leadership –

Balance between passivity and knowing when to be assertive when leading a team in different circumstances.  Reference to the Tao of Leadership – Leaders don’t need to know the answers, they need to know the questions.

Difficult being the cheerleader and selling the vision. Respectful, effective communication; and not making assumptions, while focusing on why. E-mail is for documentation, not for communication.

3 – What did you learn about yourself during LGS –

9/11 occurring during class your, and Education Day at the Onondaga Nation were most impactful.

Confirmation of philosophical discovery of choosing love over fear, and connection to people with similar committed people.  “Team-Life.”  Started as strangers and carried forward with connections that have lasted for years. Graduation is just the beginning of the experience. Every conversation, connection, and interaction as an opportunity to learn and to give.

4 – What advice would you give to LGS Class of 2021 –

Be humble and kind, it’s later than you think – act now, be curious. Respect perspective, respect that everyone brings something to the party. Love the person you see in the mirror. It’s a small world. Follow your why. Be grateful, be positive, and be present. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Have patience and empathy. Don’t live life under fake urgency.

“Putting Your Why to Action”

Introduced by: Angi Daiuto

Guest Speaker: Pam Brunet, Executive Director, Leadership Greater Syracuse, LGS ‘98

Pam presented a capstone focusing on where the class can go if they are thirsty for more: leadership and personal professional development, community knowledge, and how to find volunteer opportunities to lead, go, serve. In the area of lead, go, serve Pam discussed singular opportunities, advisory committees, government commissions, and where to find those opportunities.

Board Responsibilities – Engagement is a two-way street. There are many responsibilities that come with joining a board, and you should go in eyes wide open. You are a guardian of the mission of the institution and enhance the public trust in the institution. You have collective and individual responsibilities. Consider if the board is right for you. Know your legal and fiduciary responsibilities. LGS provides a board training program in partnership. LGS itself is looking for committee members, possibly as a path to board memberships. Pam asked class to give back to LGS in one way and be an LGS ambassador.

“Discovering Your Why”

Facilitated by: Commit to Lead & Serve Design Team

An exercise where each member of the class had private time to reflect on their “why” and how to put their why into action.

“Finding Our Why”

Introduced by: Mike Becallo

Guest Speaker: Joseph Casamento, Executive Director, L.E.A.D. USA

Coach Casamento presented passionately on life experiences in leadership and mentorship. Themes included personal responsibility and responsibility to teammates, principals of servant leadership, and knowing what your why is and living up to it.

 “Sharing Our Why” with the Design Team & Class Members

All class members shared their whys.