What Does Leadership Mean to You?

August 1, 2021
By Summer Claypool, Director of Leadership and Engagement
Pictured Above: The members of Art of Leadership’s 6th cohort at their graduation on June 27th

One of the first questions I ask the 10th and 11th grade students in the Art of Leadership program is, “What does leadership mean to you?” The students, a diverse group from public and independent schools across the Baltimore area who will spend a year together in the program, unfailingly name traits like empathy, listening, and collaboration. They define a successful leader as someone who strives to build diverse teams and communities, to champion inclusion, and to be open to all perspectives and voices. It gives me so much hope for our collective future that our young leaders value these qualities, and have the wisdom to see these as strong leadership skills. Truthfully, Art of Leadership students enter the program already bearing the skills of effective and compassionate leaders. It is my privilege to help students hone these competencies, and to introduce fledgling activists and advocates to new experiences and perspectives.

The first cohort of 2015-2016 Art of Leadership students graduated college this past spring, and it is so exciting to see what our driven and inspired alumni are accomplishing. Alum have created documentary films, podcasts, and art in all mediums; others have interned with State Assemblies and earned Fulbright scholarships. The thread that ties all our alumni’s achievements together is the dedication to civic engagement, to improving communities and encouraging equity. It is so essential for all people to feel connected to their communities- the pandemic has certainly made us see this with renewed clarity- to invest in their spaces, groups, and elevate the voices of community members. Art of Leadership alumni take this responsibility and fly with it, making communities in Baltimore and beyond greater for it.

The mission of Art with a Heart is to enhance lives through visual art, and to use art as a vehicle for growth and inspiration. In doing the work I love to do with our exceptional students, I get to see the art in compassion, in connection, and naturally, in leadership.