International leader, author, and entrepreneur Lindsay Levin, founder of the social enterprise Leaders’ Quest, will deliver the address to College of Professional Studies graduates on Friday, May 12 at Matthews Arena. This year, nearly 1,500 graduates will receive degrees—325 bachelor’s; 1,011 master’s; 164 doctoral, and one associate’s.
Mary Loeffelholz, dean of the College of Professional Studies, and vice president of the Professional Advancement Network, noted that Levin’s experience makes her uniquely qualified to offer advice to this year’s graduates.
“Lindsay is an inspiring life-long learner, a serial entrepreneur, and a global leader who believes in the power of networks to connect people for good,” Loeffelholz said. “She’s really lived the dreams that our students bring to the College of Professional Studies from all around the world. Many of our students study and practice global leadership during their time with us, so I’m delighted to bring Lindsay into our network.”
An entrepreneur by nature, Levin grew up in a small, family-business environment in Hampshire, England, and spent the first 12 years of her career creating and selling businesses in the United Kingdom.
While immersing herself in the creation of companies, she became interested in leadership and business culture. “As well as being an entrepreneurial person, I’ve always been interested in the kinds of environments we create for one another,” she explained.
That interest led her to delve deeply into the study of development, with a particular focus on how countries develop best practices for creating more sustainable, inclusive societies.
It was this line of inquiry, coupled with Levin’s frequent travels to countries across the globe, that generated the basis for her work at Leaders’ Quest and the foundation of her 2013 book Invisible Giants: Changing the World One Step at a Time.
“We live in a world that is completely interconnected and interdependent,” she said. “We all breathe the same air and drink the same water; we’re in this big human story together and yet often we don’t understand one another.”
Levin sought a way to build bridges among people from different backgrounds while fostering more inclusive, compassionate leadership worldwide. It was work she knew she would have to create from scratch. Levin began by taking groups of managers and other leaders with her on trips to new countries—immersive learning trips that became known as Quests.
What started in 2001 as a one-room venture, Leaders’ Quest today operates programs in 22 countries and has delivered more than 250 transformational programs to more than 7,500 leaders of companies large and small. The organization’s ultimate goal, said Levin, is for companies to become more humanitarian while their leaders become more coalition-centered.
“Effectively, we’re all in this together,” Levin said. “We need to find ways of working much more closely together. Many issues the world faces today will only be addressed by education and cooperation, so implicit in our work is the idea that we need to reach out to one another. The truth is, we’re all connected, whether we like it or not.”
Indeed, each program is designed to address issues head-on, in the most clear-eyed way possible.
“If we’re doing work on sustainability and climate change, instead of going on a retreat to a pristine place, the thought is, ‘Let’s go to coal country. Let’s look at the very communities that are struggling with the transitions we need to make, let’s look at the issue with eyes wide open,’” Levin said.
Levin lives in New York City with her husband David and their youngest son Louis, whose older brothers Zac and Joe are away at college in the United Kingdom. She said that a lifetime of learning—learning that continues to this day—has helped broaden her own understanding of some of the most complex issues facing society.
“One of the things I love about this work is the privilege to keep learning and exploring,” she said. “You have to keep your mind open, and keep your eyes open. I love the fact that certainty gets challenged all the time if you’re learning.”