From Left: Franklin Biggins, Laurent Adamowicz, Ahmad Mansur, Gwendolyn Kelly, J. Veronica Biggins, Raymond A. Jetson, Doug Rauch, Valerie Lauderdale, Terri Dangerfield Hanson, Ronald Lauderdale, Tony Barash.

As the events of September 24-26, 2010 were unfolding in Baton Rouge, even the most optimistic visionary would have been challenged to imagine what would ultimately result. It was on that weekend that 17 fellows from the Advanced Leadership Initative (ALI) at Harvard University joined their colleague, Raymond Jetson for a retreat in his hometown.

During their visit, the fellows toured the city and met with 150 Baton Rouge community members in what was billed as a “social innovation workshop”. Utilizing a format designed by Ahmad Mansur of the Urban Economy Group, the participants broke into three subject areas: education, health and faith-based organizations. The goal of these sessions was to connect with others so they could co-create their future.

After the event, participants were surveyed to gauge their thoughts on the encounter. The responses were overwhelmingly favorable, with almost all expressing a willingness to continue the process further. It was in this moment that the “summit” was born. Over the next three years, the summit grew in number of attendees and in impact. Discussion topics ranged from healthcare to community asset mapping, but the goal remained the same, a better Baton Rouge for everyone. The theme for the 2013 summit was “Evolution of Change.” Over 100 leaders gathered to recognize and celebrate the evolution of what we know today as MetroMorphosis.