Westerville News & Public Opinion

Robbins bowing out of Leadership Westerville

Search is on for successor for the group she has led since its start

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Leadership Westerville seeks a new organization leader as Executive Director Kristi Robbins steps down from her role next month.

"It has been 13 years and I've enjoyed every minute of it," Robbins said. "I think it's time for fresh ideas and someone new to step in."

Robbins accepted a position as chief of staff at Otterbein University in 2011. She juggled the demands of both positions -- the Leadership Westerville post is part-time -- for more than two years but now finds that she needs to devote her time to the university.

"They have been very supportive of Leadership Westerville for the years as well as the ability to let me continue my position," Robbins said.

Robbins was the executive director of the organization since its start in 2002.

Leadership Westerville is a network of involved citizens that work for the betterment of the city. Robbins worked with numerous adult and high school volunteers and fostered a growing community of civic leaders.

"We are sad to see her go because she has been a vital part. It is going to be difficult to replace Kristi," said Larry Jenkins, former president of Leadership Westerville and a City Council member.

"Her greatest zeal is her relationships with people. She has brought those connections to Leadership Westerville and helped us build from scratch."

In her second year as director, Robbins launched Leadership Today, a nine-month leadership development program for Westerville high school freshmen. During the course of her tenure, she has assisted more than 300 students develop leadership skills.

Robbins also helped establish the organization's annual Service Day, where volunteers assist neighbors with various projects. More than 2,000 volunteers have assisted in more than 700 projects.

"That will be Kristi's biggest legacy," Jenkins said. "When you see Service Day year after year, you really see the impact."

Robbins worked for the community through building relationships and inspiring citizens to give back. However, Leadership Westerville has given back to her as well, she said.

"I continue to grow every time I meet new people that participate in this program," Robbins said. "It's been a great learning experience for me."

Robbins, a former Westerville Board of Education member, said she will continue being active within the Westerville community.

As the organization finds a successor, she hopes he or she will keep the focus on the organization's concept and continue to build the network.

"One of my favorite sayings is leadership is action not position," Robbins said. "(I hope he or she) continues to demonstrate that by being involved in the community, not only through the position, but in service and other capacities, and continue to demonstrate a philosophy of servant leadership."

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