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July 23, 2018

Reflecting on the Leadership Portland Program

Leadership Portland is a program created and run by the Portland Business Alliance, our largest metropolitan chamber of commerce, that brings together business and non-profit leaders for a nine-month deep-dive into business, government, and community in Portland.  The program introduces participants to the key leaders across these three sectors in order to create an appreciation of the context, opportunities, and challenges that face the city.  The goal of the program is to inspire rising leaders in the community to understand the city’s biggest strengths and issues and develop skills and connections to be meaningful participants in Portland’s evolution.


I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Leadership Portland cohort.  As a recovering high school administrator transitioning into our family real estate business, Leadership Portland was the ideal opportunity for me to learn more about the broad interaction of business, government, and community in Portland.  Moreover, the program helped me build meaningful connections with a broad array of rising leaders in industries and organizations across the city and region.  While I would say every aspect of the program was positive for me, upon completion of the program and reflection on the nine months, there are three takeaways that stand out: the camaraderie developed with fellow participants, the excellent design of the program, and the sense of confidence I now have in the people leading our city and region.


The success of any program is based on the people with whom you share the experience.  The most obvious takeaway, and arguably the most fundamental one to my positive experience, was the quality of the participants and the many strong relationships forged through our time together. I was very impressed by the wide-range of companies, organizations, positions, and backgrounds represented in our cohort.  Through small group work and the many interactions at program days, I was able to forge numerous strong connections that will serve our business and have the promise of developing into strong personal friendships. My experience appears to reflect others’ as there was a tangible camaraderie in our group that made our time together enjoyable and facilitated productive days together.


The design of the Leadership Portland is one of the biggest strengths of the program.  The breadth of experiences provides both a deep and broad exposure to Portland.  Not only were the program day sessions populated with influential and experienced leaders, the series of accompanying experiences including the police ride-a-long, visit to the State Capital, and the boat tour of the Port of Portland made for an unforgettable and impactful overall experience.  In addition, spreading out the sessions from September through June allowed enough time to really digest and reflect upon each successive aspect.  Adding in the small group Impact Project addressing the need of a local non-profit and it’s easy to conclude that the design of Leadership Portland was intentional, thoughtful, and, overall, very successful in meeting its goals. 


Finally, and most meaningful to me, I left Leadership Portland with a high degree of confidence in the people at the forefront of leading our business, government, and community organizations.  While there are significant challenges in front of the city and there is scant agreement between everyone, the depth of thinking, extensive experience, and quality of the human beings working tirelessly on their respective challenges and opportunities is inspiring and leaves me feeling optimistic about the future of Portland.


As I close out my year applying to, participating in, and reflecting on Leadership Portland, I am very happy to share two pieces of news.  First, we are very proud to announce that Mike Larkin, Real Estate Asset Manager, has been selected to participate in the 2018-19 Leadership Portland program.  Second, I am pleased to be able to continue my involvement in Leadership Portland as the Recruitment Chair for the Leadership Portland Alumni Association.  This program was a very positive experience for me and I look forward to seeking out others from across the city to participate in future years.

Jordan Elliott

Vice President

jelliott@naielliott.com