We Were There: United Way Young Leaders Circle at the Gamm Theatre

This morning at 8am sharp I walked into lobby of the Gamm Theatre to find an interesting mix of people chatting, smiling, drinking coffee and eating breakfast pastries. I pushed them all out of my …

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This morning at 8am sharp I walked into lobby of the Gamm Theatre to find an interesting mix of people chatting, smiling, drinking coffee and eating breakfast pastries. I pushed them all out of my way and ran straight for the coffee urn. After a bit of networking and socializing, we moved into the theatre where we filled the seats in preparation for a panel discussion, for which the topic was “Being Creative and Thinking Outside the Box.”

The panel consisted of Tony Estrella (Artistic Director of the Gamm), Jason Yoon (Executive Director of New Urban Arts) and Bronwyn Dannenfelser (Director of Development for WaterFire). The discussion was facilitated by Mary-Kim Arnold, the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. There was so much brain power up on that stage that I sat in the second row to avoid injury in case the set exploded.

Art is a vital part of creating a healthy neighborhood in which people will want to live, but Bronwyn spoke the truth: “We need boots on the ground.” Volunteer at a Waterfire; catch 1984 at the Gamm; donate supplies to after-school arts programs that are helping our teens get prepared for college. The ever-articulate Tony borrowed from an Oppenheim poem — “Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses!”

United Way of Rhode Island’s Young Leaders Circle (YLC) invites all forward-thinking individuals to learn from and connect with government, business and nonprofit leaders. Recent guest speakers include Mayor Angel Taveras and PC Friars coach Ed Cooley. Discussion topics range in discipline and have tackled such subject matter as “Five Rules for Achieving Greater Work-Life Balance” and “Empowering Others to Lead.”

To learn more about upcoming YLC events, check out their website.