Introducing Exchange to Change

Steve Wray introduces the Economy League’s Exchange to Change series looking back at 10 years of the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange. 


Leadership Exchange logo

There’s a reason why place-based institutions of higher education endure: there’s no substitute for the group learning experience. Different kinds of people bringing their own contexts and sharing a dialogue – it sparks creativity, aspiration, and collaboration.


The Economy League was aiming for something along those lines when we organized the first Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange to Chicago ten years ago. We wanted to take leaders in their fields to a city that thinks big and gets things done with the hope that the experience would kindle bigger thinking in our region. 


Since that 2005 trip, more than 500 of our region’s most engaged leaders have participated in Leadership Exchange learning visits to AtlantaBoston,ChicagoSan Francisco, and Toronto or in local programs here in Philadelphia. Together, we’ve learned how other regions have excelled across a broad range of issues including strengthening education, supporting entrepreneurship, fostering sustainability, investing in infrastructure, revitalizing neighborhoods, and celebrating arts and culture. Along the way, we have strengthened relationships among our region’s difference-makers and encouraged more aspirational thinking for a World Class Greater Philadelphia.


In recognition of the Leadership Exchange’s 10th anniversary, the Economy League is launching a yearlong series called Exchange to Change: Lessons from 10 Years of GPLEX. The monthly articles that follow will include commentary about how leadership in our region has changed over the last 10 years, first-person reflections from past Exchange participants, and stories of how ideas shared and conversations started at GPLEX have contributed to high-impact initiatives and collaborations.


We kick off the series this month with reflections from GPLEX alums recounting some of their favorite experiences, ideas, and outcomes from prior Leadership Exchanges. Besides a chance for us to reminisce, we’d like Exchange to Change to spur thinking and conversations among Greater Philadelphia’s business, civic, and public sector leaders about how we can apply the lessons learned from a decade of Leadership Exchanges to drive growth and opportunity in our region.


If there’s one thing we’ve learned from 10 years of GPLEX, it’s that great things can happen when you bring together some of the most passionate and able leaders in our region. We’ll do it again this fall, as more than 200 of Greater Philadelphia’s top emerging and established leaders explore changing approaches to leadership as part of this year’s Exchange being held in October in Philadelphia.


As we reflect in the coming months upon the first decade of GPLEX, we encourage you to be part of the story that gets written for its next decade.


Explore the full Exchange to Change series 


Apply for the 2016 Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange >>

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The Exchange to Change series is made possible through the generous support of the University of Pennsylvania.