Leadership CincinnatiUSA is an eight-month immersive civic engagement and development program for established leaders in the Greater Cincinnati area.

BE NKY Growth Partnership Vice President of Economic Development Kimberly Rossetti recently graduated as a member of Class 46.

Kimberly shares more about what she learned throughout the program below!

Why did you decide to participate in Leadership Cincinnati?

In my role at BE NKY working with companies throughout the site location process, I am advocating for the entire Greater Cincinnati region every day. I often am focused on Northern Kentucky, but we are part of the Cincinnati region and share all the amazing assets Cincinnati has to offer. I moved to NKY in late 2019 and then the pandemic hit, which really limited my opportunities to explore the entire region. The program offered the opportunity to network with professionals from throughout Cincinnati and really dig into the assets the area offers.

Building relationships with more than 50 local leaders was very appealing. I value Leadership Cincinnati for the activities we participated in, and the conversations our class had surrounding difficult topics, which led us to create personal connections. The program involved self-discovery, pushing each of us out of our comfort zones, and tackling important issues in the community.

What were some of the activities you participated in?

Our journey began with a two-day retreat at Camp Joy. We engaged in physical and reflective team-building activities as part of the Venture Out! Program, including a ropes course, zip lining, and discussing important events in our lives. This experience was incredible, and I continue to carry it with me, applying what I learned to relationships with my BE NKY team, colleagues, family, and friends. As a class, these 48 hours enabled us to jump right in and get to know each other better.

After Camp Joy, we met once a month for a full day, and each session focused on a different topic, some of which were issues people tend to shy away from, such as mental health, justice, poverty, and the political landscape. Sessions included team-building exercises, panels, and tours.

What regional issues do you think are important to tackle?

We covered a lot of challenging topics throughout the program. One eye-opening session involved a discussion around poverty. Statistically, we learned poverty in the region hasn’t improved significantly over the last 10 years. There are many great organizations working to combat this issue, but it’s been difficult to improve the poverty rate.

We discussed mental health and how it is a sensitive topic that is often avoided. We had a day-long class at the Lindner Center of HOPE, where we met with clinicians, participated in activities, and discussed mental health, from both a workplace and personal standpoint. More than one in five adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness.

My class was honest when discussing issues, opinions, and life experiences. Our authentic conversations around these difficult topics allowed us to be vulnerable enough to open up to each other. Everyone was so dedicated to the program, and by getting to know each other at a deeper level, we gained the trust needed to work together to tackle some of these issues.

What was your favorite activity?

Cincinnati has a nationally recognized arts scenes and it is a major influence on our region’s quality of life, creativity, and diversity. My favorite activity was one that made us dive into the arts and pushed us out of our comfort zones. My class was split into four groups, and each group was led by an artistic director from a local arts organization. Each group performed their given genre: opera, theatre, ballet, or hip hop (I was in the hip hop group). Two women from Elementz choreographed a routine for us to perform.

It was amazing to see everyone jump into an activity with no training or skills, and then perform in front of the class. The trust we built allowed us to be vulnerable and have fun as a group.

How did this program help you learn about and connect with the Cincinnati region?

I’m not a Cincinnati native and have lived in the region for four years. Leadership Cincinnati was an incredible opportunity to learn about the area and Northern Kentucky’s key role in the economic vitality of the region. My class was a great representation of the entire tri-state and was very diverse from every standpoint: demographics, age, industry, and leadership. It was amazing to make connections with so many different types of people on both a personal and professional level, and I know I have a group of peers to call on for professional or personal advice.

Would you recommend others participate in this program?

I highly recommend this program to leaders in Greater Cincinnati. Leadership Cincinnati is an amazing way to learn about and get involved with the community. From the start, we were encouraged to think about what we want our legacy to be, and how it will make a difference for ourselves and our community. My class has committed to continue meeting in the future to work on projects addressing several of the issues we covered throughout the program. I know there are further accomplishments to come from my class and we will continue to get more out of the program because of our commitment to stay engaged with each other and the community.