'Hutchison Leads' Program Helps Give Back


Last week we discussed ways to help Youth Villages, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and their families live successfully. This week let us explore a formal leadership development program, Hutchison Leads, which is empowering young women through experiences in public policy development, private sector initiatives, civic responsibility, and service learning.

Hutchison School alumna and trustee Abbie Ware Williams along with her husband, Duncan Williams, president of Duncan-Williams Inc., recently made a significant gift to Hutchison to launch this innovative leadership program and to expand leadership outreach to the Memphis community through the school’s Center for Excellence. The goal is to strengthen the Hutchison community and create articulate ambassadors for our city, as well as meet the needs of greater Memphis through public seminars, workshops, and forums.

Hutchison Leads represents a cross pollination of cutting edge concepts from top tier national leadership programs. From the youngest girls to college bound seniors, leadership development is woven into the educational fabric in a dynamic and multi-faceted curriculum that touches all areas of student life: academic, artistic, athletic, social and emotional.

For example, ninth grade students engage in topics like Evolving Definitions of Leadership and Facing Conflict as a Leader. Starting in the 11th grade, all students have the ability to design and take part in an internship. At the conclusion of their internship, students present a capstone presentation to a panel of faculty and administrative evaluators.

What impresses me about Hutchison Leads is its holistic approach to incorporating leadership into all aspects of a student’s life versus just one or two areas, as well as its community and service based model. When it comes to their strategy with internships, I think Hutchison Leads is truly on to something special. As part of the internship, students must keep a blog and complete a video project that details what they learn while working with a company.

This is something I would highly encourage other schools and organizations with internships to adopt. Personally, I have found that many employers are willing and would like to use interns, but have no idea where to start or how to give them ongoing, meaningful work. By having a daily project and blueprint coming into the internship, it provides focus for both intern and employer.

In terms of giving back and becoming involved with Hutchison Leads, there are many exciting opportunities. They are continually looking for internship opportunities for their students in just about every industry, from medical to photography, marketing to nonprofit. They are looking for business leaders to come in and speak to students about career opportunities and industry trends. They are also looking for volunteers to help students with group projects and seminars. I encourage you to learn more by contacting the Hutchison Leads director, Caroline Blatti, at cblatti@hutchisonschool.org.

Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com.