Leadership is, at its core, about love.

By Cliff McEvoy, Buford Foundation

To me, leadership is, at its core, about love.

I love Omaha and I love the Leadership Omaha program.  I was an officer in the Air Force and am Executive Director for the Buford Foundation nonprofit which provides a Camp Confidence program for Omaha youth.  So leadership is a topic I should be familiar with, right?  We teach our students to discover and respect each other and their community.  We do this through things like community service, mindful reflection and continuous education.

Yet, it had been a long time since I was able to reflect on my own leadership, participate in a service project and learn new things about the city I love. That is what Leadership Omaha did for me.

Sometimes it is hard in our daily routines to take the time necessary to ask some of the important questions in life: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What matters most to me?  These are also the exact types of questions we encourage our students to ask at Camp Confidence.  We also provide time to ask those questions of each other and truly listen to the responses.  Sometimes it isn’t necessarily even the answers but the questions themselves that posed the greatest opportunity to connect with each other.  Leadership Omaha provided the time, opportunity and ability to look within ourselves, connect with each other and the community that we all love.

It then became: Who are we? Where do we want to go? How can we get there together?

I can’t thank Leadership Omaha enough for the experience, encouragement and education provided over the course of this program.  It was the perfect correlation between what I do professionally and my personal goals and passions.

Leadership to me also includes confidence, humility and action. 

The confidence to move forward with a vision while acknowledging strengths, weaknesses and obstacles.  The humility to admit questions and concerns and the challenge to act on a belief.  Yes, we learned, discussed and posed difficult questions but we also came together and acted on them as a team.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been part such a great program and vow to take that experience into my professional career where we work to accomplish the exact same concepts for Omaha youth.

I was a brand new Executive Director of a small nonprofit and Leadership Omaha gave me the confidence to move forward in the same way we work to give our students the confidence to learn, grow and respect each other. 

I also came away from the program with even more enthusiasm for the city I love and the job I am honored to have at the Buford Foundation.  It was honestly the perfect program at the perfect time in my life!


Leadership Omaha Class 40 is looking for the next ‘best class ever’. Someone who is driven, thoughtful and eager to step forward, unleash the dynamic leader inside and create a lasting impact. If you or someone you know is interested, apply online.

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