The Power and Importance of Connections

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought about connections. It seems that in this economic downturn, there is a genuine up turn for opportunities for people to connect and share information. At SCLN, the downturn has certainly been playing out this way and it has given our team a renewed sense of purpose.

To help accelerate deeper connections among our alumni and the region, SCLN has embarked on a number of new programs to keep our current and past fellow connected to longer-term leadership initiatives on the economy and innovation, natural resource sustainability and globalization trends. We see these as critical trends that leaders must consider for the future of our region and beyond.Of note, SCLN is working on two types of programming that will help connect our alumni network in new and innovative ways:

Global Connections. SCLN is committed to more deeply engaging Southern California’s many ethnic immigrant communities and enhancing our global-local leadership capacity. Los Angeles alone is home to an estimated 30 ethnic enclaves, including settlements that are internationally recognized as the largest populations outside their respective countries of origin. Examples of ethnic enclaves in terms of size and economic impact include Vietnamese in Orange County (Little Saigon); Koreans in Los Angeles (Koreatown); Chinese in Los Angeles; and Latinos throughout Southern California. Through a grant from the James Irvine Foundation, the Southern California Leadership Network will begin exploring local perspectives, economic connections, and global policy linkages of Southern California’s ethnic communities.The first in this series, Global Connections: Korean-Americans & Southern California, will bring together SCLN with prominent leaders in the region’s Korean-American community. This dinner program will begin a fresh dialogue between local Korean-Americans from the private, government, and nonprofit sectors with greater Southern California on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Future dinners will focus on the Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Russian, and Thai communities among others. Please save the date of Tuesday, Oct. 13 for our program on Iranian-Americans & Southern California.

Through this series, SCLN is giving background information on the communities and their ethnic country of origin; providing guidance on developing cross-cultural relationships; and demonstrating how these communities lend cultural and linguistic advantages that can be leveraged more effectively for the region as a whole.

California Connections. With deep budget cuts to our state budget, and more than 2 million Californians unemployed– 843,000 more than one year ago– Southern California leaders need to understand the governance and fiscal issues that connect all Californians. A new effort is now underway with SCLN alumni to embark on a study trip to the San Francisco Bay area in early 2010 to give alumni an opportunity to connect with Bay Area leaders about their region and the future direction of governance, fiscal and natural resource issues. Early planning conversations for the study trip have touched on themes on the tech industry, Bay-Delta issues, and regional governance. As California seeks innovative remedies to its most pressing problems, we are committed to connecting SCLN alumni to state-wide leadership networks and opportunities. Look for more information in the coming months.

For more information on California reform efforts, visit the Public Policy Institute of California and California Forward, or read more from L.A. Area Chamber President & CEO Gary Toebben’s Business Perspective blog.

Our hope in these more challenging times is to help our alumni connect to critical leadership issues that will determine the future of our region and state. In the process, participants will gain new knowledge, relationships and most importantly skills to lead effectively in a new and dynamic era.

-Kevin Cottrell Executive Director, Southern California Leadership Network and Vice President of Leadership Programs, L.A. Area Chamber