Good-Hearted Leadership: A Community Unified

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Article By: Ray Anderson, Good-Hearted Leadership

Tom Hudson:  Good-Hearted Leadership Brings Communities Together!

Tom Hudson’s biggest challenge and joy was getting polarized community interests to focus on a common end, which enabled opposing parties to work together for a common cause. In several instances, this meant getting developers interested in maximizing real estate profits and citizen interested in preserving the history or ecology of an area working as team-mates, not opponents.

Tom is the Director of Land Use Services for San Bernardino County, larger in land mass than 9 states. After, 30 years in the Private Sector, Tom Hudson, plunged into public service because he wanted to complete his career where he could impact policy with a like-minded government team that sees their role through the lens of community development and entrepreneurship, as opposed to one-dimensional regulatory compliance.

To understand this progression in Tom’s career, it’s good to start near the beginning. As the child of an Army officer, Tom lived in 24 places before he graduated from high school in Moscow, Idaho. He learned to appreciate the Army officer corps and saw in them a unique set of values that applied to every area of life and reflected the intent of the founding fathers.

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But Tom’s heart drew him into community development rather than the military, including a year with Aborigines in Australia as an Anthropologist. He quickly discovered that observation would not satisfy his activist heart. He had to do something about the unbalanced situations in which he found himself embedded. That lead to a stint in the Peace Corps and then to graduate school to complete a Masters degree in International Management. It was that platform of knowledge and work experience that lead him to making a difference by focusing his skills on bringing people together to build stronger, richer and more vibrant communities seeking a common end.

This summary of Tom’s Nez Perce Story illustrates the point. The Nez Perce are a tribe in the Northwest, now in a reservation in Idaho. Previously they would follow historic routes of buffalo and salmon over what is now Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Today, the Nez Perce Indian Reservation consists of 750,000 acres, of which the tribe or tribal members own 13 percent. The tribe, with an enrolled membership of about 3,500 (2011), is headquartered in Lapwai, Idaho.

When Tom learned that priceless ancestral garments and artifacts were being sold at auction by the Ohio Historical Society, he reached out to the tribe elders to see if he could facilitate the recovery. In the 1830’s, a Christian Missionary had embedded himself in the tribe and convinced them to give up their traditional Indian garb in favor of western clothes. To cover his costs, he sold these items over time to a business friend in Ohio for $59.10. In the mid-1990’s, the Ohio Historical Society came into possession and decided to sell the entire collection for financial gain. Negotiations by the Tribe quickly ensued.

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OHS finally agreed to sell the collection back to the Tribe, but under extremely difficult conditions: $608,100 payable in cash within six months. Obviously, a poor tribe of 3,000 in Idaho didn’t have half million dollars to invest. Tom then worked with Tribal elders to develop a campaign to raise the funds that ultimately drew in USA Today, National Public Radio, MTV, Pearl Jam, Mrs. Walt Disney and thousands of school children nationwide – including a small elementary school in Arkansas that single-handedly raised $3,000.Tom even received support from Bert and Ernie – and their human partners – at Sesame Street.

Together, the thousands of donors raised the funds with two days to spare. With much festive ceremony, the collection was returned to the Nez Perce people and is now at home in a National Park Service museum on the Idaho reservation. “Working together, through shared values and common sense of purpose,we can accomplish seemingly impossible things, Tom concluded. “A remote tribe in north Idaho was able to create a breathtaking partnership and lasting bond with thousands of people from around the world. This begs the questions, what might any community or collaboration achieve through noble purpose and facilitate leadership?”.

About the Author:

Ray Anderson is the host of Good-Hearted Leadership- a program that provides  simple yet sophisticated tools for small business analysis and goal setting that owners and managers can use to identify strengths and weaknesses in their businesses. GHL can provide small business with the tools, technology, talent and training to achieve their dreams. For more information email: ray@andersonbusinesscoaching.com

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