The inaugural group in Columbus CEO's braintrust of change-makers will pursue projects advancing public art, women's status in the workforce, empathy across communities and a magazine takeover.

The first gathering of our Future 50 class of 2020 was pure electricity. 

The group got together Jan. 30 to meet, mingle and pitch ideas at a reception that was much more brainstorm, much less awards ceremony. In fact, there were no awards, because Future 50 isn't really an awards program. It's an opportunity to make a difference with some brilliant, warm, caring people in the community, and I am deeply honored to be a part of it. 

Last Thursday at Gravity, we heard pitches from seven of our class members on projects that ranged from supporting a high quality of life for our growing senior population to creating a STEM shadowing program.

You can see photos from the night in the gallery attached to this story.

They also heard from Columbus College of Art and Design President Melanie Corn, who is partnering with us to offer a creative-problem solving workshop to the Future 50.

In the end, the group voted on their favorite projects and four emerged (though it was close):

Brett Kaufman'sidea to bring a public mural festival and internationally recognized artists to Columbus and extend it to lift up neglected neighborhoods.

Dr. B. J. Hicks' idea to create the Empathy Project to connect class members with causes they've never considered with the goal of bringing about greater understanding in the community.

Jordan Davis' idea to give the Future 50 class members guest editor access to Columbus CEO through a collaboratively written cover feature on "10 Moonshot Ideas to Change Columbus."

Heather Whaling's idea to develop a Gender Index to rate companies based on workplace policies, equal pay, women in leadership and more.

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You can learn who is in the inaugural class of Future 50 and learn about the program here.

What's next? The class will work on these projects until the end of the summer, when they will gather again for a presentation of result, and to meet the next class of Future 50, who they—not we—will choose.

Stay tuned for nominations to open this spring!

Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO magazine.