Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Calkins, LT'16

Ryan Calkins, LT'16
Service Business Specialist, Ventures
Commissioner, Port of Seattle

Ryan Calkins Headshot.jpg

Two years out, what is one LT experience that sticks with you?
The offsite retreats were a highlight of my LT experience. It's a rare luxury in our busy lives to have two full days dedicated to higher-order conversations around race, justice and leadership. The opening speaker encouraged us to experiment with our leadership style during the retreat: if you were one to normally speak up, try listening a bit more. If you normally stay quiet, take a risk on volunteering your thoughts to the full group.

What is one thing you think about differently because of LT?
LT taught me to ask who is not at the table. In my current role, I'm responsible for representing not only those who are able to advocate on their own behalf, but also those who don't even know they need an advocate. On issues of great importance to our communities, it's not sufficient to convene a panel of experts for briefings. Rather, we need to bring impacted communities to the table. This means creating accessible spaces for input that accommodate their schedules and cultural values.

What is one thing you do differently or changed because of LT?
While I had always considered running for public office, LT, and my classmates in particular, gave me the confidence to take the leap. It's scary to forego the security and anonymity of a steady job for the uncertainty of a campaign. But after LT I couldn't avoid the question, "if you aren't willing to run for public office, who will?"