Last week I had the honor of being part of Morrie Lanning’s recent recognition as the Fargo-Moorhead – West Fargo Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Legacy Leader Award recipient. We all have our beginnings, and my professional beginning all started with getting to know this kind, thoughtful, visionary leader. You see, when I was just 24 years old, I was given an opportunity to work for this great organization called the West Central Minnesota Initiative Fund. I knew it would be a challenge, but I had no idea how the people I worked with would shape me—people like Morris Lanning, who served on that first board of directors.
My memories from those early years are still very clear in my mind. The board members gathered and shared their knowledge and vision for the nine counties. The agenda was simple: What can we do to make these communities prosper, grow and be all they can be for future generations? There was much hard work and determination, yet still room for laughter in those early planning days. No one knew then that, 29 years later, West Central Initiative would be still in operation, and still carrying the voice for rural Minnesota, thanks to true servant leaders like Morrie.