Editor's Notes: Future Columbus leaders to build the best version of the city

A toast to our incoming leaders—the future of Columbus.

Katy Smith
Columbus CEO
Kenny McDonald, president and CEO, Columbus Partnership

Change in a city is a lot like change in an organization: It often happens slowly, and if left unplanned, can prove impotent in addressing the most critical needs well. And many times, the thing that makes the most difference in manifesting true change is new leadership.

Future leaders will need to address affordable housing, climate change, equity

As the Columbus region prepares to welcome about 1 million new neighbors by 2050 (current estimates), we’re grappling with how to get crucial issues right. Will we be able to provide enough affordable housing, something we struggle to do even in 2022? Will the transportation landscape let people get where they need to go without stressful, excessive commute times? Will we adopt bold policies that combat the harmful effects of climate change? Will we ensure, in all of these decisions, to equally include and consider our most vulnerable neighbors from underrepresented groups?

Will our existing industries such as automotive and financial services make the transition to the digital, electric future with resounding success? Will we be a place companies with good-paying jobs flock to, or not?

These questions and more are on the minds of our leaders every day, especially Kenny McDonald, CEO of the Columbus Partnership. Kenny took the reins of the powerful civic organization of CEOs in January after several years at the forefront of the region’s economic development work with One Columbus. During those years, he struck me as an energetic, focused leader who was always working a solid strategy.

More:Here's what Columbus Partnership CEO Kenny McDonald hopes for Columbus

He remains so in his new role, but these days I see something else in Kenny, too—a more reflective nature. Slightly more cautious. Even more frank about the challenges ahead.

I find these characteristics imminently reassuring that he is on the right path. I feel good we have him as our regional champion.

Kenny is joined by newer leaders such as Autumn Glover, Falon Donohue, LC Johnson, Joe Apgar, Yogi Terrell, Erica Crawley and the all the rest of this year’s Young American Leaders Program class. They bring fresh p­erspectives—critical to effecting change. Like Kenny and the outstanding YALP classes who went before them, they are devoted to creating the best version of Columbus they can.

Cheers, new leaders. My gratitude goes to you.

ksmith@dispatch.com