The Class of 2013 now joins a special group of alumni, those who have spent time discovering the issues in our region and creating connections with other leaders. They are now inspired to act.

As Executive Director, I, too, learn so much during each and every program year. And I wanted to share my top 13 biggest takeaways from this program year. But wanting to shy away from a potentially unlucky list of 13 – and because I couldn’t cut even one from the list – I went to 14.

  1. At Education Day, I learned that the capacity of the brain to absorb new information peaks at age 3.  Check out www.zerotothree for more fascination information on the importance of early childhood intervention efforts.
  2. The one mile Oceanside stretch of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, was second only to the ENTIRE New Hampshire Lakes Region for tourism dollars generated last year. Economic Development Day provided a fascinating look at the collaborative efforts of the NH State Parks and the business community in Hampton.
  3. The lifespan of a nonprofit arts organization is only two to four years, on average. The Seacoast Repertory, our host for Arts and Culture Day, is celebrating its 25th anniversary, a significant milestone.
  4. Posting pictures of members of the class of 2013 generates significantly more traffic to our Facebook page than anything else we have posted this year.  I will let you postulate on who generated the MOST reach!
  5. It’s important to expand the discussion to include facts instead of emotions.  This is what the Arts and Culture community did when they changed the conversation to include the economic impact of the arts to the region; and what the Hampton Beach Commission did to get funding for their renovation project.
  6. Every dollar invested in early childhood education now returns $4 to $11 in taxpayer savings in the future, according to theEducation Law Center.
  7. NH gets an A+ and is among the top states for small business.
  8. One doesn’t always have to knock the ball out of the park to win the game.
  9. The Stairway to Heaven REALLY exists at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.
  10. Sustainability is more than recycling.  Rather than asking the question, “what is sustainability”, we should be asking “what sustains us?” Tom Kelly of the UNH Sustainability Institute posed this thought-provoking question and many more to the class.
  11. Nonprofit organizations continue to reinvent themselves and create new revenue streams as the economy continues to evolve.
  12. It costs $1500 to run the KC-135-135 simulator for an hour; and costs $10,000 to fly
  13. I crashed on landing, and will never be a pilot.  Neither will many alumni and members of the Class of 2013.
  14. The Class of 2013 is now among my special group of ‘favorite people’- they are very talented, inquisitive, and- I am convinced- will continue seek out the answers to the difficult questions.

At graduation, I asked the graduating class and the alumni in the room: what will you do with the gift of knowing what and who you now know?  My advice was to let it marinate – but not too long.  And then to spend some time thinking about what’s next, and how they can make it happen.

Jennifer Wheeler
Executive Director, Leadership Seacoast