Community | Ted Carroll – Bringing out the best in Hartford
Once you speak with Ted Carroll, you’ll be hooked on Hartford…and there’s no turning back.
Making dreams a reality
Imagine you can inspire individuals to make a genuine difference in the lives of others. Now imagine you can help grow businesses with programs designed to create a workforce committed to their jobs and local communities. And then imagine you can transform once dilapidated neighborhoods into living environments blooming with hope and limitless possibilities. Now stop imagining…because this is real. It is what Ted Carroll, president of Leadership Greater Hartford, sets out to accomplish each day he goes to work.
A million reasons to serve
Leadership Greater Hartford (LGH) is a nonprofit organization that brings together community-minded people to develop their leadership skills by working together on neighborhood-based projects. At the core of LGH is the desire to help people where they live and work. By involving the whole community, everyone benefits – the families who live there, the businesses who work there, and the greater Hartford region where the growth of healthy neighborhoods creates the kind of city you want to live, work, play, and stay in.
It is this ”win-win-win” philosophy where new leaders are cultivated, where businesses attract and keep good people, and where local communities thrive that drives Ted Carroll to tackle the difficult challenges that abound in the 30 towns and municipalities of almost a million people which make up the greater Hartford region.
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His passion inspires others to achieve
You have only to share a brief conversation with Ted to realize that he is a man who believes passionately about bringing out the best in individuals. Although he appears as a regional spokesman for many projects that benefit Hartford residents and businesses, he is a humble man who prefers to work quietly behind the scenes to inspire people to take on leadership roles and tackle the region’s challenges.
Local leaders and politicians recognize his gentle power of persuasion and innate talent to bring together people of diverse backgrounds and abilities that they often seek out his help during difficult times. When a recent rash of city homicides followed by a hit-and-run accident where bystanders refused to help a wounded man made international headlines, Mayor Eddie Perez, a graduate of LGH Quest program, called on Ted to help the city. In just a few days, he organized Hartford Cares, an event which attracted hundreds of residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations for an evening of inspirational speakers, musical performances, and opportunities to join local community groups.
Expect the unexpected when you lead
What happens to just about everyone who volunteers in a Leadership Greater Hartford program is there is a subtle change in the way they come to they think of themselves, their careers, the city of Hartford, and their individual neighborhoods. It happens all the time. Ted likes to say it probably is a result that they get back so much more than what they give.
In 1985, Ted was a member of the LGH Quest program where he signed up for a year-long commitment to serve on a community project. At the end of the program, the LGH Board liked what he did and offered him the position of president. At the time he had just left a 7-1/2 year term on Hartford’s Board of Education, a job during one of the city’s most turbulent times which often demanded working with deeply divergent groups.
He liked the challenge of bringing different people together and thought LGH would be a good thing to do for four or five years. Well, twenty-three years later, he’s still here, still eager to lead, to lend a hand, and still smiling because he loves what he does and has the natural ability to tirelessly motivate others to do the same.
Beyond the individual
When you join Leadership Greater Hartford, it is the first quiet step, like a tiptoe, to inevitable personal growth and change. In every program they offer, you meet people from all walks of life, people different from yourself, people like yourself. Working side by side on community projects, you become connected with one another. You get the opportunity to contribute to a good cause that is important to you – such as building a playground, furnishing a homeless shelter or designing an adoption program, just to name a few. You can lead the way, work with others.
Sounds simple, you work on a project and then go back to your job, but what sets Leadership Greater Hartford apart from the usual team building program is their goal goes beyond the individual in order to serve the larger good. According to Ted Carroll, “These are traditionally very talented people, very skilled, smart people, but with a heart for what’s going on in the larger community. They want to develop and share their skills in ways that help other people learn and grow and in the process themselves become leaders.”
Leadership Greater Hartford recognizes that there is no change without trying to make a difference. “That’s part of what we do to folks” said Ted. “We coax them to go out on a limb, recognizing that the limb may fall and break but if people do fall, we’re creating a community that will support them and cushion the impact.”
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Volunteers of all ages make LGH a success
LGH also offers programs for high schoolers, for people who are in their retirement years, for young professionals and for people who are just new to the area, and as well as for specific groups. They’ve had efforts that targeted Latino leaders, neighborhood leaders and parent leaders all based on the belief that everyone has the potential to lead.
“We now have about 4,000 people who have participated in our various programs – 2,500 adults and 1,500 young people,” said Ted. “We spend a lot of time keeping them engaged with us, with each other and the larger community so that Hartford can now boast of one of the largest, most diverse and most active leadership networks in the entire country.”
Owning the results
We can all complain. It’s easy. But when you become part of the solution, you own the results. And you want the work of your positive contribution to endure. Ted Carroll, believes this constant community activity involving all the people who have a stake in its success creates deep, enduring bonds which unite people across all the
lines that can separate us – race, religion, economics, social status, age, and politics. And once you can cross these lines, there’s hardly a good reason to go back.
Moving forward is the constant call to action by Leadership Greater Hartford. Bringing people together, working side by side, accepting ideas and contributions from everyone involved has been their proven formula for success for over thirty years.
Growing a city
In anyone’s life, in anyone’s neighborhood there are always issues of concern and projects that require helping hands. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away, but by tackling the problems together, the greater Hartford area has gradually improved. The pockets of hope and positive feelings about the future continue to spread throughout the region making it a growing metropolitan center where people and businesses want to be.
As long-standing president of LGH, Ted Carroll has one goal – to bring out the best in Hartford. At times, his role is as preacher, savvy businessman, public relations manager, politician, citizen, neighbor, laborer, mentor, and father. Perhaps as a true community organizer dedicated to the city he loves – Hartford – he simply embodies the best characteristics which each role provides.
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“Thirty years later” (02:38) – See more videos on Good World Report
The concept of leadership and community building that Ted Carroll and Leadership Greater Hartford offer can be applied to any town, any problem. Break it down, give people responsibilities, pool resources, work together. It’s certainly not a new concept, but it is one that when it comes from the heart, moves to the brain, and works down to the hands and feet produces positive results for years to come. And isn’t that what leadership is all about?