“The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”— James Baldwin

Above is a picture of the RIT Cross Country running team who ran a non-stop 12-man Coast to Coast relay from the Pacific Ocean in California to the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland. On the run back to the Rochester Institute of Technology, we were greeted on the steps of the capitol building by some of our US government representatives.

Yes, I am in the picture. I am in the far back, third in from the right.

One of the representatives standing with us was Barber Conable, a Congressman from my home district in New York who later became President of the World Bank Group.

Our record-setting run across the country was one built on the leadership of our coach, Peter J. Todd, and on a strong consensus culture. We worked consistently as a team to make collaborative decisions and overcome many difficulties on the journey which took us across the Rocky mountains, through deserts, cities, farmland, and very long nights.

A culture predicated on collaboration and support of each other is one of the strongest elements of exceptional leadership.

Today, we in the United States are voting on many representatives to the government. This is on the state, on the local, and on the national level.

When Barber Conable was our local representative, he visited our farm more than once. He road the tractor with my Dad as he worked the fields.

He was more than a distant symbol and representative in Congress. He made sure that we knew him as a person. Barber was known for bi-partiship and working towards consensus. He was known by both sides of the aisle as the most respected member of Congress.

When I vote today, I know that I am voting for people. I am seeking to vote for people that are like our family friend, that work as exceptional leaders and build each level of our government towards a common goal and a common good.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

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