By Scott Jennings
It was an honor to graduate from the 2014 class of Leadership Kentucky, one of the oldest statewide leadership programs in the United States. The organization takes a handful of Kentuckians each year and exposes them to different parts of the state, to varying policy discussions, and forges lifelong relationships among those who go through the program together.
I went to prison. I repelled with the Army. I looked at hemp. I interacted with important policymakers and asked them tough questions. And it was all through Leadership Kentucky.
The people in my class were a mixture of professionals in various stages of their careers. They came from all over the state, bringing with them their unique perspectives about how to approach Kentucky’s challenges. The exchange of ideas with people in different professions from different regions was illuminating for me; it was a good reminder that not all of the best ideas out there necessarily flow from people who work in and around politics and government. I heard a great many common sense public policy ideas coming from businesspeople, medical professionals, and others.
It actually reminded me that a responsibility of those who are elected to govern is to reach out to people beyond just the immediate circle that typically surrounds government to get new and fresh perspectives on meeting our challengers. Public policy makers should spend more time with folks operating in the real world of business, hospital administration, accounting, banking, and agriculture to find out how enacted policies are truly affecting local economic dynamics.
I am grateful to those involved with Leadership Kentucky for allowing me to participate. There are a lot of smart people all over this state with something to offer, and this program I hope inspires its graduates to continue to be involved in finding solutions to the challenges we collectively face.
Scott Jennings is a partner at RunSwitch Public Relations and a former advisor to President George W. Bush and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.