Inside LT with Martha Choe

Terri Hiroshima, 04/07/2014

On January 21, Leadership Tomorrow's "Conversation with Leaders" presented by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) was a smash, sold-out event featuring Martha Choe, LT'84 and Chief Administrative Officer at BMGF since 2004.
On January 21, Leadership Tomorrow's "Conversation with Leaders" presented by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) was a smash, sold-out event featuring Martha Choe, LT'84 and Chief Administrative Officer at BMGF since 2004.

More than 100 LT grads and guests, representing 22 classes descended on the BMGF campus in lower Queen Anne where tours were held at both the acclaimed visitor's center and at the Foundation's state-of-the-art office space. The evening culminated in a 30-minute riveting conversation with Martha Choe led by Jan Levy, followed by Q&A with the audience. Highlights included:

Q: How would you describe LT's impact on you and your experience?
A: I made friends through LT who continue to be my dear friends today. I would have never met them otherwise. With any relationship you have to invest the time. At LT you learn about your own community in ways you never dreamed of, and the "how" of leadership - what is your role, your calling, your responsibility in your life? All of the leaders that I see share a sense of community, and it takes the strength of community organizations to address a region's challenges.

Q: What's the best advice you've ever received?
A: The first is to understand how to 'be here' and 'be now.' While it's important to learn from the past and plan for the future, here and now is the only reality. The second is 'don't take it personally' but rather, try to understand what's behind the emotion because if you do, you have a shot at truly understanding the issue.

Q: What do you believe are the most pressing issues in Seattle?
A: Keeping citizens safe, so hiring a new Police Chief is the most important issue. The income divide is a complicated issue - we live in a historic time of inequity in our own back yard without understanding what the consequences are to the income divide. We have to look at all the things that are interconnected and complex, such as mental health, health care, education. We need a pragmatic way to lift all people out of poverty; if not, it becomes socially destabilizing to a democracy.

Q:
What do you see as the issues our community will be facing five years from now?
A: Transportation is complex and will be as necessary to address in five years as it is now, if not more so. And education is one of our most important issues-we should be a leader in this.

Thanks to Martha Choe and BGMF for a wonderful kick-off to this year's "Conversations with Leaders!"