Honoring The Leaders Of Today
Honoring The Leaders Of Today
By Karen Hewitt (ze/hir/she/her)
Associate Director, Leadership Columbus
One of the many gifts of working at Leadership Columbus is that I also get to be the Director for the Central Ohio Leadership Academy. After existing for 10 years and having 9 years of programming outside of Leadership Columbus, we worked with the New Albany Foundation, Jordan Davis (founder), and the COLA Advisory Board to secure the acquisition of this incredible program for rising high school juniors and seniors in Central Ohio. We just completed our first year hosting this program at the end of July and its tenth program year overall and what an empowering and generative time we had talking to the youth about leadership and development.
Leadership Columbus and COLA are proud to announce the first-ever COLA P.O.W.E.R. Up! Award, powered by the Easton Community Foundation! The P.O.W.E.R. Up! Award recognizes a COLA program alumnus demonstrating the characteristics associated with COLA P.O.W.E.R. in their community, as nominated by their peers.
The Easton Community Foundation’s active engagement in the well-being of our Central Ohio communities has provided over $8.4 million in financial support of Central Ohio organizations over the past 20+ years, funded through parking meter proceeds at Easton Town Center and Gateway properties. Through their mission, the Easton Community Foundation has strengthened the Central Ohio community via services and programming provided by partnering organizations that support families, children, health, education, and the arts.
The P.O.W.E.R acronym was created by the COLA founder(s) and is used to guide each day with a new set of tools specific to each word/phrase. P.O.W.E.R. stands for:
Prepared with purpose
Willing to Speak Up
Real and Ready
This year’s first annual COLA P.O.W.E.R. Up! Award winner is none other than Jordan Reeves (Class of 2018). Jordan is currently a sophomore at Columbus State Community College. He is the Executive Director of Leaders of Today 501(c)(3). Jordan is majoring in Leadership and Public Affairs. Jordan has a passion for students and his mission is to help students all across the country dream big and help them make those dreams a reality.
Jordan was a co-facilitator for us this summer and his experience, knowledge, wisdom and joy were so supportive for us as a staff working through our first experience directing COLA. He is extremely brilliant and kind and was a great example for the youth. I got a chance to interview Jordan and here is some of his experience around COLA and winning this award. Thank you for showing up and being a part of something so special, Jordan. We are so grateful for your leadership and your presence.
Leadership Columbus: Jordan, how do you define leadership?
Jordan: Leadership should be an act of selfless teaching and guidance of a group to a place where they can flourish.
LC: As a participant of COLA, what was the most impactful part of COLA week for you?
Jordan: The most impactful COLA day for me was the Entrepreneurial thinking day. I learned that my ambitions were achievable and that I was allowed to think outside of the box. The most impactful part of COLA overall was that I left knowing that I wasn’t a leader of tomorrow but that I could lead right where I was. The confidence that I gained from that one lesson changed how I looked at everything.
LC: As a co-facilitator for COLA, what is the most impactful part of COLA week for you?
Jordan: The most impactful part of the week is seeing total strangers create lifelong friendships in 6 days. The people that you meet at COLA are the people that are going to change our community and even our world. The skills that they learn and the relationships that they create launch them forward in their leadership and their lives.
LC: What day of P.O.W.E.R. most resonates with you and why?
Jordan: The Entrepreneurial thinking day is my favorite day. My peers struggle to think outside of the box or have critical thinking skills. School teaches us that in most cases there is a right answer and a wrong answer to the questions that they ask. This makes it hard to question things by ourselves or answer a question that could have any number of answers. The entrepreneurial thinking day shows them that they can create and/or ask a question and answer them with their own solutions.
LC: What is an impact statement and what is yours?
Jordan: An impact statement is a proclamation of a problem that you have pinpointed and how you are going to solve this problem in your community.
My impact statement when I went to COLA was to create an afterschool program that would teach students financial principles. My impact statement did change over time to what my nonprofit Leaders of Today does now.
LC: How did you start Leaders of Today and what do you all do?
Jordan: Leaders of Today was “started” over 4 years ago. I had the idea to start a nonprofit during a conversation with my mom while filling out my application for COLA. Over the next 4 years, the vision for Leaders of Today was formed and on January 23, 2021, we had our first board meeting.
Our mission is to help fund students’ ages 14-25 efforts to better the Central Ohio community; giving them the ability to develop initiatives that bring together and improve the lives of those in our community. We fulfill this mission by giving microgrants (grants up to $1,000) to students and assigning them a mentor so that they can go out and change their community. COLA is such a great segway into our program because they have already created impact statements.
LC: What does it mean to you to receive the COLA Alumni POWER Up! Award?
Jordan: I am truly honored to have won the first COLA Alumni POWER Up! Award. It is awesome to see that what I have done through COLA and because of COLA, being recognized. It makes me want to be even more involved!
LC: What message do you have for your fellow alumni?
Jordan: Make sure that you keep your P.O.W.E.R. and use the skills that COLA has taught you in your everyday life. Never stop making impact statements and trying to achieve them. Remember that you are the leaders of today. Finally, get involved with the alumni program. The people that are COLA alumni are people that are going to change the world. We can all achieve our goals when we work together and hold each other accountable.
LC: What message do you have for people that want to get involved with COLA (students, parents, facilitators, speakers, etc.)?
Jordan: COLA is truly a life-changing program. When I came to the program I was afraid to put myself out there and had a very narrow mindset. When I arrived at the program on the first day I sat in my car for about 15 minutes because I was too scared to walk in.
Today, I have created a nonprofit and I am extremely involved in my community. I can truly trace back the confidence I have today to the COLA program. If you are even considering getting involved, this is a program that will change your life in the best ways. You won’t regret it!
LC: What message would you give to your younger self?
Jordan: “Be who you are and be that well” – St. Francis DeSales. Be confident in yourself and in who God made you to be. You are capable of so much more than you know. Also, don’t be afraid to say no to opportunities and people.
LC: How can people stay connected to you and invest in your work (social media handles, website, email)?
Jordan: You can follow Leaders of Today on Facebook at Leaders of Today or on Instagram @studentsleadingtoday. Our website is leadersoftodayco.com and we even have a podcast that you can listen to called the Leaders of Today Podcast! You can also follow me personally on Instagram @jordan_reeves36 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LC: Anything else you would like to share?
Thank you Leadership Columbus for taking on COLA. It was so amazing that we got to have a COLA class of 2022. I can’t wait to see how the COLA alumni continue to change the world!