5 Questions about Community Engagement with Derek Lamle

December 5th, 2018

Community Involvement Propels Leadership Skills

The Emerging Leaders Alliance (ELA) is committed to developing a community of future leaders, creating opportunities for action, growth and regional pride. Members of the ELA don’t just talk the talk, they also must show their dedication to the region’s development by volunteering their time to community efforts outside of ELA commitments.

ELA member Derek Lamle tells us about his community involvement and why he thinks it is important to give back.

1.  What community groups do you volunteer with?

My core involvement has been with Questa Educational Foundation and the Emerging Leaders Alliance (ELA). Through the ELA, doors have opened for involvement with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, like attending Regional Opportunity Council (ROC) and business attraction committee meetings.

With the team at Katz, Sapper & Miller, I have also volunteered with local organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Vincent Village and Habitat for Humanity, just to name a few. At the end of the day, I’m a cheerleader for the positive growth and action happening in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana. I like to attend and promote the region and volunteer as much as possible.

2.   What inspired you to become such an involved member in the community?

On a personal and professional level, getting involved in the community was the next logical step. Sports ruled a significant portion of my childhood, high school, and college life. Once I graduated from Manchester University in December of 2016, it was imperative to reassess my identity. This was hard, but I learned that I gain satisfaction by contributing to the lives of others in some capacity. It also helps that community is a core value for my employer, Katz, Sapper & Miller. They strongly encourage and support each employee in finding causes they care about and joining in to make a difference.  

3.   What is one thing you have learned about Northeast Indiana through your volunteer experiences?

The established community leaders in Northeast Indiana care deeply about young people. One incorrect assumption I had prior to getting involved was that “older people don’t care what I think.” Time and time again I have found that leaders are generous in sharing their time and life experiences to provide insights that young people can use as they begin taking on leadership roles within their organizations. I think this is a key differentiator of our community compared to larger cities where you may find yourself lost in the masses.

4.   Why is it important for young leaders to be involved in advancing the region?

At some point in time, the keys are going to be handed over to young people to progress our communities, solve difficult problems and make tough decisions. It is our responsibility as the next generation of future leaders to watch, listen and be inquisitive of current leaders about how they have charted those uneasy waters. Certainly, it’s important to think with autonomy, but learning from the failures of those who have “succeeded” is also important. Hopefully, by paying close attention and picking the minds of those who have been there, we will reduce the chances that we make similar mistakes.

5.   What would you tell someone who wants to take action and get involved but isn’t sure where to start?

Getting involved with an organization or group whose mission resonates with you at your core is most important. If you do not have a deep connection with the mission, chances are that your interest and contribution will slowly fade. For me, joining the board of the Questa Foundation was a no-brainer.

Second, look for an organization that you can contribute your unique skillset. Non-profits have a need for members of their board to be experienced with marketing, law, fundraising, finance, insurance and more. Chances are you have something to contribute. Lastly, I will add that established leaders and those on boards desperately want the input of young people due to the perspective and different interests that are brought to the table. So I encourage young leaders to step up and take action!