Lakewood City Councilor Ramey Johnson attends Harvard government leadership program
Lakewood City Councilor Ramey Johnson was lucky enough to be invited to attend an exclusive class at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2013. Ramey’s experience was formative, and she shared some thoughts after reflecting on her duties to Ward 1 and to the people of Lakewood.
Held in Boston over 3 intense weeks, students at all levels of government studied the history and principles of governmental leadership. The curriculum stresses learning lessons from historical example and group study about building consensus as a leader in government.
For Councilor Johnson, the strength of the program was the diversity of participants.
“Many levels of government were invited: Police & Fire Chiefs, HR Directors, City Managers, and elected officials from 5 countries,” recalled Ramey. “All came with the same basic desire to improve oneself on personal and professional levels.”
The Councilor continued, “At first it was destabilizing. Then it rebuilt me with a new core sense of leadership that was human, sincere, purposeful, confident, dynamic, questioning of the status quo, honest and based in personal integrity. It taught me to look through an ethical lens…that the view is not always the same for everyone.”
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Senior Executives in State and Local Government
Partnership vs Polarization
History of our US Constitution
History of our form of representative government
Numerous case studies of dilemmas in government leadership
Negotiating for a win-win situation
Ramey asked herself some tough questions as a result of this course:
- How do I balance the needs of voters who supported me against the larger needs of the entire city?
- How can I make a difference and get things done in a public sector wrought with suspicion?
And came back with a list of lessons learned:
- I work for great people and a great city with powerful dreams
- Act boldly when it comes to the people and the city I care about
- Every city and senior executive struggles with many of the same issues
- Listen to all voices, use internal voice to help decide direction, stay honest and true to self and others
- Do not be afraid to be vulnerable and open to all ideas. Even the idea, "I could be wrong"
- Sometimes I am expected to be the leader, and other times expected to be the follower
- Although there will always be a group of people who aren't served, do my best to protect the minority
- It is powerful to have pride in someone else's success