Examing the Value of Leadership
A. Reed Raymond ’74 Invites Students to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
By Tommy Kopetskie, Editor
Considering that the Moravian College students shared the same four walls as nearly $7 billion in U.S. currency, the topic of conversation during their November 2013 trip to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia wasn’t what one might think.
At the invitation of A. Reed Raymond ’74, more than a dozen Moravian undergraduates traveled to Philadelphia — nearly within earshot of the Liberty Bell — to investigate not the economy or banking regulations, but rather the importance of leadership and issues relating to diversity and inclusion.
“These are topics that are very important to us here at the Federal Reserve Bank, and I’m sure very important to you at Moravian,” said Raymond, vice president and chief administrative officer of the Reserve’s Department of Supervision Regulation and Credit. “So, today, we are not talking about money, but leadership. And this is to be interactive, so we want to hear from you.”
Leadership & Diversity Are Lifelong Efforts
Inside one of the Reserve’s meeting rooms — a short elevator ride from the building’s very secure vault — Raymond, a member of the College’s Joint Board of Trustees, was flanked by nearly half a dozen of the bank’s top associates. These experienced professionals were well versed in banking, human resources and inclusion.
After general introductions, students broke into groups for a discussion of leadership led by Stephen G. Hart, assistant vice president of organizational learning and development. Hart, armed with four flipboards, challenged the student groups to complete sentences involving key words addressing diversity, inclusion and leadership.
“I can tell you that leadership and the practice of diversity inclusion is a lifelong effort,” Hart said. “You really never get where you want to be, but you have to start. Your journey to becoming a great leader starts now.”
After the exercise, one flipboard read, “The true power of diversity and inclusion comes when people can look beyond surface level differences and explore new possibilities together.”
Another said, “Good leaders find a way to motivate people to action. Great leaders inspire people to take action on their own.”
The students were then instructed to share a story, anecdote or situation that they thought illustrated their sentence’s meaning. This transitioned into a conversation noting the strengths and characteristics of several noted leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs and Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, a world-renowned brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins University.
Kush Solanki ’14 introduced the surgeon, explaining that Quinones-Hinojosa immigrated to the U.S. illegally. “He was given nothing and now he’s one of the world’s most well-known brain surgeons,” Solanki said. “He inspires people to make something of their lives.”
ABOVE: Brianna Wright ’15 was one of the Moravian students to visit Philadelphia last fall.
ABOVE: Kristopher Joint ‘14 adds to the conversation in a meeting room in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
Expanding on a Good Idea
While Raymond served as the quintessential host, Moravian’s Philadelphia trip was the brainchild of Christopher Hunt, replicating leadership workshops he participated in as an undergraduate at West Chester University.
Hunt, now associate dean of students and director of intercultural advancement and inclusion at Moravian, visited presidents at Cornell University, Villanova University and SUNY Binghamton as part of West Chester’s “Leadership on the Road” series.
“As a student, I had a great opportunity to interview these presidents, getting to know them on a personal and professional level, and seeing how they got to where they were in life,” Hunt explained. “It was that concept that I wanted to bring to our students at Moravian.”
The trip to the Federal Reserve Bank was one of two such experiences the College initiated last fall, and Hunt envisions continuing the visitations with prominent leaders in the Lehigh Valley area. (Moravian students also visited with Javier F. Cevallos, the former president of Kutztown University.)
Hunt credits Raymond for enthusiastically embracing the concept and expanding on the idea.
“My original thought was to take students to sit with Reed for about an hour, ask him questions, and then leave, but he really took the ball and ran with it,” Hunt said. “He planned a whole day for us and took the idea so much further than we could have hoped.”
Bridging the Gap
Following lunch, Raymond expanded on the leadership discussion, sharing his three characteristics of a good leader: a person who establishes an environment of trust, who appreciates diversity, and serves as a “bridge” for others.
“It is really important, especially today given the changing demographics, that everyone feels comfortable offering their ideas and perspectives and contributing to their fullest potential,” he explained. “Good leaders need to be bridges. Leaders have to be able to create an environment where everybody can feel included, and comfortable helping to connect the dots. Good leaders create an environment where people can express a differing view knowing it will be fairly examined and seriously considered for acceptance.”
Hart charged the students to personally accept the challenge to be leaders, even if their positions don’t require it.
“No matter what job you hold, everybody is a leader. If nothing else, you’re a leader of yourself,” Hart explained. “You’re a leader of your career, you’re a leader of your attitude, and you’re a leader of your best self. And you have to take that obligation very seriously.”
As a trustee, Raymond explained to the students his interest in creating a culturally diverse, and educationally rich, atmosphere at his alma mater. He commended Moravian for its diverse population, something that was lacking during his own college education. But diversity for the sake of diversity isn’t enough, he reasoned.
“Yes, the campus is more diverse, but are we advancing ourselves?” he asked. “Are we having the important conversations we need to be having? Are people feeling as though they are part of the whole Moravian community? That’s what will make Moravian better, and it will make all of us better.”
Raymond Reconnects with Alma Mater
ABOVE: A. Reed Raymond ’74
Before A. Reed Raymond ’74 was a Moravian College Trustee, interested in creating a platform for students to discuss leadership and diversity, he was a Moravian student heavily involved in social justice issues on campus.
At the conclusion of last November’s student trip to Philadelphia, Raymond hosted a candid discussion of his own educational journey, as well as his professional path, highlighted by his 36 years at the Reserve Bank.
As one of just nine minority students in his undergraduate class at Moravian — and one of only two who eventually graduated — Raymond acknowledged he didn’t feel “connected” to the College’s community as a student.
“It was a different school then, and the Vietnam War was coming to an end,” he said. “It was a period in the country when there was a lot of social change taking place.” He explained he felt the College lacked diversity in its curriculum at that time, and he pushed for programs highlighting African American studies. (The College started such a program during his sophomore year, Raymond pointed out.)
“Looking back at it, my initial experience at Moravian wasn’t a good one, and I became somewhat disconnected from the College for a number of years,” Raymond admitted. As the years moved on, however, a friend convinced Raymond to re-embrace his alma mater, and he was eventually elected as a trustee.
“I was ready to come back,” Raymond explained of his return. “But only if I could help improve the experience of the students coming to the College now. I want Moravian to be the best. That’s why I ask students questions like, what’s it like in the classroom? Are the conversations they are having enriching the conversation for everybody there? Does it feel like you can be a part of the community?”
These are questions all organizations must ask themselves, Raymond reasoned. “That’s a challenge not only for Moravian, but for everywhere. That’s a challenge here at the Federal Reserve,” he said.
“I can tell that Moravian is a different place from when I was there, and I’m glad to hear that,” Raymond told the students. “Moravian really is a great place to learn, and I hope you are seeing and experiencing that every day.”
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