Leadership Long Beach
By W. Henry Walker, President
Farmers & Merchants Bank
Leadership Long Beach, Class of 1990
October 22nd, 2013 – My family has more than a century of history with the City of Long Beach. My great-great- grandfather, CJ Walker, founded Farmers & Merchants Bank in a small storefront on Pine Avenue in 1907. Today, the bank has 23 branches stretching from Los Angeles to Orange County, and at the heart of this story of stability and growth is leadership.
In 1989, when I was preparing to begin my journey as an F&M leader, I had the opportunity to be part of Leadership Long Beach’s inaugural class. My hope was to gain valuable skills and insights to help me become a successful business leader.
From my very first meeting, I immediately realized that the people in Long Beach see leadership a little differently. Simply running a successful business is not enough. True leaders are ethical, principled and community-minded citizens who place service above personal gain. This ideal was exemplified through every class, event and project I participated in during my year in the program.
Nearly 25 years later, many of the things I learned from Leadership Long Beach continue to influence my decisions as a business leader. I understand that it is my responsibility to make a positive impact on the communities where I do business through community outreach, philanthropy and ethical business practices.
Today, Leadership Long Beach continues to play an active role in shaping the leaders of today and grooming the leaders of tomorrow. I am thankful for the role it played in my own professional growth and applaud the organization’s ongoing commitment to helping us all see leadership a little differently.
(Founded in 1989, Leadership Long Beach offers principled leadership programs by educating and engaging adult and youth leaders on issues important to the city’s future and sustainability.
For more information, check us out at www.leadershiplb.org or www.facebook.com/leadershiplongbeach.)