Abai Houser ’22 admitted that he wasn’t always the most supportive swimming and diving teammate. Amanda Goldman ’23 confessed that she was terrified to speak in public or open up to new friends. Jordan Venglass ’21 shared how he was rejected for 100—yes, 100—internships.
One by one Friday, CMC students humbly reflected on some of their most challenging life obstacles. Yet, thanks to their involvement with CMC and the Kravis Leadership Institute, they’ve been empowered to build resilience and empathy, cultivate meaningful relationships, and—as expressed in the KLI mission—lead courageously, creatively, and collaboratively now and in the future.
The testimonials were a fitting exclamation point to the two-day KLI 25th Anniversary Celebration in March 2020, which included an all-day conference at Roberts Pavilion tied to CMC’s Project 20/20: Envisioning the Future through a Multidisciplinary Lens.
The closing appreciation from students reinforced the KLI vision of eponymous founder Henry Kravis ’67, the mentorship of faculty, staff, and alumni board members, and the institutional framework for responsible leadership that guides CMC.
“The range of leadership opportunities CMC has provided me are endless,” said Josiah Tarrant ’22, a First-Year Guide, admission tour guide, and CARE Center fellow from Connecticut. “Specifically, my involvement in KLI and the numerous speakers and mentors they have brought me in touch with has expanded my community and given me a space to challenge myself with new perspectives and creative problem solving.”
“My involvement in the Kravis Leadership Institute and the numerous speakers and mentors they have brought me in touch with has expanded my community and given me a space to challenge myself with new perspectives and creative problem solving.” – Josiah Tarrant ’22
KLI director David Day shared some of the foundational elements of KLI these past 25 years, including “first principles” that encourage diversity and dialogue, interconnectedness, and the use of evidence-based practices. Leadership development requires hard work over an extended period, Day said, noting that “it’s not a pass to an amusement park, but more like a gym membership” that requires constant maintenance.
The foundation for KLI’s individualized development approach is also a three-pronged emphasis on assessment, challenge, and support. Sometimes that can mean small but important habits that add up over time, Day said—for instance, the ability to give and receive feedback; structured writing and reflection through learning journals; and breaking students into smaller “development crews” that allow for engagement with multiple class years and majors. The result is that KLI fosters a family atmosphere where students know they have a voice in their leadership development.
“The KLI family—it touches my heart every time I hear it, because it’s so true,” said Day, Steven L. Eggert ’88 P’15 Professor of Leadership. “If you’re going to take a risk with yourself and be vulnerable, you need a crew. Everybody needs a crew. And who do you go to when you’re in a time of need? Your family.”