Editor's notes: Shooting for the moon!

Mary Yost
Lillian Lowery and Les Wexner at a Columbus Partnership quarterly meeting.

Don't think of the Columbus Partnership as an insular group of the city's business titans. If that were part of its past persona, there's a growing body of evidence to say it's not an apt view of how the civic leadership organization operates now.

Inclusive and altruistic apply as the Partnership works to help Columbus pull off moonshots that can make "Ohio" an unnecessary reference point after our city's name.

Eyeing a $50 million federal prize, the Partnership is backing Columbus' bid to build transportation for the future.

Increasingly, young entrepreneurs and other nonmembers are being invited to meetings with the 57 members of the premier organization for Columbus business leaders. I report that firsthand after sitting in on the Partnership's quarterly meeting May 5 and an earlier joint leadership symposium with Columbus chapters of the Young Presidents' Organization and World Presidents' Organization.

The Partnership teamed up with YPO/WPO April 19 and 20. Brett Kaufman, YPO member and CEO of Kaufman Development, hosted a reception and dinner with Partnership and YPO/WPO members under a party tent in his Bexley backyard.

Over dinner, guests were encouraged to cite best examples of urban statesmanship and identify a current or future tipping point on which Columbus CEOs should be engaged. (Former Mayor Mike Coleman's goal for 10,000 Downtown residents got nods for statesmanship, and transportation was mentioned as a likely tipping point.) With dessert, the group heard from Sam Williams, former Atlanta mayor and author of The CEO as Urban Statesman: Harnessing the Power of CEOs to Make Cities Thrive. Williams told those gathered, "The spirit and energy in the room tonight? Wow! If you've got stock, I'd like to buy some!"

Next morning, the symposium moved to Cardinal Health, the Dublin HQ of CEO and Partnership member George Barrett, to hear from Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Frances Frei, Harvard Business School senior associate dean of faculty planning and recruiting. The program encouraged all present to improve their leadership skills and better their city.

The Partnership's second-quarter board meeting May 5 was equally welcoming and stimulating. Meetings rotate among members' companies, and corporate chairman Nancy Kramer hosted at 250 High in the new offices of Resource/Ammirati, an IBM Company. Entrepreneurs Matt Scantland of CoverMyMeds and Tanisha Robinson of Print Syndicate were among guests who participated in facilitated discussion with Rich Cox, founder and CEO of People Rocket and lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The group moved to a rooftop community room and balcony for drinks, dinner and a keynote by Evan Burfield, cofounder of 1776, a global incubator focused on complex problems in education, health, energy and transportation. Burfield's message: Civic leaders have an obligation to help their cities solve hard problems. He was preaching to the choir.

In this issue, we explore how the Columbus Partnership continues to tackle economic development, education and transportation issues while encouraging future leaders to carry the work forward.

Whether the Partnership helps the city pull off a transportation moonshot will be known soon as the feds decide this month which of seven finalists will win its Smart City Challenge.

Columbus CEOis happy to welcome new Associate Editor Jennifer Wray. This is a return engagement, as she was a writer for the magazine from 2008 to 2012. We're thrilled to have her back!