I’ve been blessed throughout my life to have great leaders in many different capacities from scout leaders, teachers and religious leaders to employers, peers in leadership positions and more. As part of my gratitude project for this year of expressing thanks for people in my life, I’ve chosen a handful of these great leaders. Thank you to all of the other amazing people who have led and taught me along the way. You’re all amazing!
Ten years ago I was celebrating my second Thanksgiving in Hungary. I was in the city of Sopron and was serving as the spiritual leader of a little congregation of saints. It was one of the most important learning experiences of my life. In fact the whole two years were a crash course of patience, listening, love, charity, perseverance, heartbreak and more. I couldn’t have made it alone. In addition to the amazing people I lived and served with and the loving, generous Hungarians who taught me so much, there is one person who led the way—my mission president, Douglas Clement.
He offered counsel, insight and encouragement when I asked for it and when I didn’t but still needed it. He’s also the one who decided where I was assigned to work. That’s what I have to thank him for most. He knew exactly where to send me and in what capacity I should serve. I believe he was inspired for these decisions. Thank you, President Clement, for being a righteous example of the believers and being a great and inspired leader.
In another gratitude post I mentioned that while working on Michael McLean’s The Forgotten Carols tour I met John who offered me a position as stage manager for a performing group at BYU. He is the Technical Director for the BYU Young Ambassadors and Living Legends, and he is a great leader.
As one of his stage managers, I had the responsibility over one of the two groups. He trusted me as a student leader and let me be accountable for the success or failure of what the crew did during set-up and strike and through the show; as he said repeatedly he was just the truck driver. But, he was always there to offer advice, give course corrections and help troubleshoot when something went wrong as was sure to happen when dealing with a live production in a new venue every night, especially when you’re on the other side of the world.
In addition to his great skill in his job and his vast experience, he was humble. He may have joked about being just the truck driver, but he really was humble and caring. He was concerned for each of the students he directly oversaw and for those in the performing groups. He led with charity and received respect in return. Thank you, John, for your example and leadership. Thank you for taking a chance on me as your stage manager for three years.
Matt Tittle and Curtis Isaak
Two other leaders from my college days also need to be thanked. Both Matt and Curtis also work with teams of college students. Matt was the advisor for the student council at LDS Business College, and Curtis was the advisor for the Student Alumni Board at BYU. Both led great examples of how to be leaders. They trusted the students they advised and helped them make wise decisions. They both let us make choices and learn from them. Thank you Matt and Curtis for making my time serving my fellow students even better with your support, counsel and wisdom.
As an intern in New York City, I gained great experience in the world of public affairs. My leader in that situation was Ahmad Corbett. He was the Director of Public Affairs for the LDS Church in NYC. Now, he is serving as a mission president in the Dominican Republic, but I’m sure he is still guiding young people as a great leader.
I was an unpaid intern in his office for just a few months in the summer of 2009, but during that time I interacted with international diplomats and volunteer public affairs representatives in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Ahmad was an inspiring leader who led us to great things in the short time we interns spent there.
Thank you, Ahmad, for your kind and patient leadership. I remember how many times we revised a certain letter before deciding it was just right. Thank you for letting us interns have such a big part in the important work you were doing.