Time To Step Up: Why I Joined the Tocqueville Society

Jan 9, 2023

By James Hardy, senior program officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

When I grow up, I want to be Bill Considine.

I’ve been saying this for years, and I usually get smiles and nods as if I’m kidding. However, each passing year, I believe in this mantra more and more. Bill Considine (or Mr. C as he’s known to many) grew up in Akron and became the president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital at the age of 31. For 41 years, he poured his heart and soul into the organization, growing Akron Children’s into the indispensable anchor institution it is today.

Mr. C’s professional accolades and achievements are too numerous to list, yet they are not why I hope to emulate him.  While he was busy becoming a superstar in his chosen field, he has never lost sight of what really matters in life: community, family, and service to others. Most don’t know about his professional accomplishments, but they know all the good he has done for his neighbors, and how much he still cares about the region we all live in.

The Miracle of Our Community

Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh remarked, “we usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.” Instead, he believed, “the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day, we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

I am increasingly awed by servant leaders in Summit and Medina counties whose vision has made us what we are today. Citizens like Mr. C, whose eyes are open to the miracle that is our community, and the interconnectedness we share. Such leaders have set a high bar for so long, it can be hard to imagine our region without their leadership.  And yet, we must. Now is the time for new generations of civic-minded leaders to absorb all the wisdom we can from these giants and carry on the torch of humanitarianism in the community.

The Tocqueville Society has deepened my learning and commitment.

Recently, I joined the board of directors of United Way of Summit & Medina because I was feeling this call to step up, learn and do more. I want to work alongside my neighbors in common purpose to find solutions to our most pressing challenges. I want to eliminate barriers to opportunity and dismantle inequitable structures that have held our region back for too long. United Way provides me with these opportunities. The laser focus on the Bold Goals ensures resources are deployed strategically and progress is measured. The diversity of thought and lived experience within the organization brings a deep level of compassion and innovation.

For these reasons, I took the additional step of joining United Way’s Tocqueville Society. Founded locally in 1989 by Ann and David Brennan, the Tocqueville Society brings together preeminent philanthropists and business leaders to serve United Way at every level of leadership. While joining the Tocqueville Society is a sizeable commitment, there are programs in place that make it more accessible to new members, such as the Next Generation step-up plan. Personally, I was able to take advantage of my employer’s matched giving program.

I joined because I felt a responsibility to do all that I could to advance United Way’s important work. Being a Tocqueville member has only deepened my learning and commitment, offering valuable opportunities to hear from diverse leaders and network with like-minded residents.

Step forward, learn, and lead.

United Way of Summit & Medina’s mission to improve our community can only be successful if passionate volunteers and philanthropists rally to their cause. All it takes is a commitment to do all you can to help others. Working together we can better support our youth, we can financially empower our neighbors, and we can ensure every newborn baby – regardless of race – lives and thrives. Picture your hero or mentor, and how they impacted your life and outlook. Allow those feelings of gratitude and respect to well up and motivate you to get involved. We celebrate them by recognizing the miracle surrounding us each and every day.

We honor them by following suit.

In our community. With our community. For our community.

Invest where it matters

Your donation directly benefits the people of Summit & Medina counties.

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