“What’s your brand?” Rell Richards ’16

“What’s your brand?”

It was a question that Rell never had anyone ask him before, and it came at a time when he had many questions of his own. Why did it feel like everyone around him at work was advancing in their leadership skills, while he felt stuck in the same old routine? How did they do it? What was their secret?

Rell’s friend Damian was involved in a leadership program called MCLP, and Damian told Rell he knew exactly where to find the answers. So Rell applied to MCLP, only to find himself confronted by more questions from the moment he read the application.

What’s your definition of a leader? What’s your definition of diversity?

“Those two questions puzzled me,” Rell admitted, “and they made me think that the answer truly wasn’t what I thought it was.”

If anything, Rell learned that much of what he assumed to be true and straightforward became much more complex after looking at an issue from many perspectives other than his own.

By the end of the program, not only did Rell gain a more holistic perspective on his identity as a leader, but he also learned more about his community. Rell and his project team worked to increase revenue for the Milestones Early Learning Center, a non-profit that provides affordable day care and education for children. Even after completing the program, Rell felt called to continue supporting Milestones by joining their board of directors.

“As an adult, sometimes you become mindful of only the things around you. It’s programs like MCLP that help give you that platform to tie you to the community, to help you know a little more about the community and its needs.”

That desire to fill the needs of the community by offering up his time and talents has remained with Rell as he sits on several local nonprofit boards that support education and youth, two of Rell’s big passions. Some of his friends can’t help but laugh at his eagerness to help, but he is happy to laugh alongside them, because he finally has the answer to the initial question that led him down the road to MCLP.

“Be the brand that you want to be, and never let someone else make your brand for you. I truly believe that, because we can go around having misconceptions of anyone along the way, but you truly don’t know that person. So to be authentic, I have allowed myself to try to make an impact wherever I can.”

With MCLP, Rell has done more than define his “brand” of a leader. He lives it.

You can help more area leaders find their “brand,’ and make an impact on our community.  Participate in the October 23, 2018 #PassItForwardMCLP by making your gift at bn-mclp.org/give.

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