For aspiring leaders and lawyers, being accepted to attend Nashville’s Diversity Institute is a dream come true. This institute, lead by Justice for Our Neighbors Tennessee, is comprised of four Saturday sessions where rising high school seniors, undergraduate students, and recent graduates from minority backgrounds are given the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest, most influential professors, judges, lawyers, and leaders in Nashville. Ultimately, the goal of the institute is to increase the number of students from minority backgrounds pursing a legal education. This year’s institute was particularly special for The Maynard Group, as our own Jerry Maynard was selected as the closing speaker for the first of the four sessions.
Maynard was honored to have been asked to speak and to help teach these young students why diversity in leadership is vital. Deciding to focus on the importance of communities of color sitting at the table of power, Maynard provided the students with a three step guide of how they may one day seat in those seats. First, he stressed that you can sit at the table of power internally. This means that you may be an elected official, on a board of directors, or be influential in some way on the internal side. With this internal power, one is able to invoke a change within their community or company, which will then lead to change in other communities or companies. Another way that one can sit at the table of power is externally. In this case, a person may not be invoking change within an organization that they are directly involved in, but rather this person is going out and protesting or speaking out on how a government or organization is not positively impacting the community which you represent. Finally, Maynard closed by emphasizing the importance of “knowing how to use the utensils.” He wanted the students to understand that one cannot truly create a change unless they understand the system that they want to affect. They must educate themselves both through schooling and outside research of the areas which they are passionate about.
Maynard’s overarching message for these young students was that they absolutely have the power to become leaders and influencers within their organizations or communities. It is with a thirst for education and an unwavering drive that they will one day sit at the table of power alongside the leaders of Nashville, TN…maybe even alongside Maynard himself.