Brenda Gerber Vincent is a former Deputy Finance Director for the “Mike Pence for Indiana” campaign and later served as First Lady Karen Pence’s Chief of Staff. Currently, she works to bring economic opportunity to the greater Ft. Wayne Indiana area. We talk about our shared experience at the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Program earlier this year and how she is leveraging what she learned to bring change to her community.
Brenda joined Greater Fort Wayne Inc. in January 2019. She manages investor services, community and corporate partnerships, signature programs, advocacy, communications, and more.
Brenda has a history of taking on bold projects. As a commissioner for Indiana’s bicentennial celebration, she oversaw statewide bicentennial projects including Hoosier Homecoming, the Bicentennial Gala, and Ignite the Future, all designed to showcase Hoosier pride. Given an initial goal of 200 projects, the committee eventually endorsed more than 1,500 projects in communities around the state. She was the only representative from northeast Indiana appointed to the Opportunity Zones Task Force, a federal initiative to bring private-sector investments to low-income areas.
A fourth-generation Fort Wayne native, Brenda serves on the board of directors for the Parkview Regional Medical Center, as well as the Carriage House, a local nonprofit she co-founded in 1997 that helps people recover from mental illness and reintegrate into the community. She is also on the board of governors for the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, a national leadership program that prepares women for service in public office.
In 2018, Brenda earned the Indiana Commission on Women’s prestigious “Heart of Indiana – Torchbearer Award.” In 2016, she received the Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana’s highest civilian honor.
Brenda served both Governor Pence and First Lady Karen Pence of Indiana. She served as the Deputy Finance Director for the “Mike Pence for Indiana” campaign and as the First Lady’s Chief of Staff. Brenda was selected to serve on both the 2012 & 2016 Statewide GOP Platform Committees, and has twice been elected as a Delegate to the GOP State Convention.
Brenda served as a Governor appointed, Indiana Bicentennial Commissioner, and serves on numerous boards including, The Board of Governors for the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, The Carriage House, First Lady’s Charitable Foundation, and the “100+ Women Who Care” Steering Committee. In December 2016 Brenda was awarded the “Sagamore of the Wabash” – Indiana’s highest civilian honor.
Brenda is proud to be a fourth generation Fort Wayne native. She received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, where she continues to serve on the Indiana University Board of Associates for the Student Foundation. Besides her husband and children, she considers her single greatest achievement co-founding the Carriage House—a psychosocial rehabilitation facility established to restore seriously mentally ill persons to maximum social and employment functioning.
Tom Baker has been a PhD student in UMSL's Criminology and Criminal Justice program since 2017. Tom received his BA in Political Science from Arizona State University and worked as a police officer for approximately nine years. His research interests include police culture, use of force, and qualitative research methods. https://www.umsl.edu/ccj/Graduate%20Students/baker.html
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Tom Baker: Hey, so it's great to see you again. Thank you for joining me.
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Tom Baker: So I gave a brief introduction just just now, but can you just tell us maybe a little bit more about yourself. Before we get going. Maybe like kind of where you, where did you grow up.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Yes. Well, I grew up in Indiana. So I reside in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but I've lived in I've lived in seven different states across the United States. I've lived in big cities Atlanta.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: New York. I've lived in Florida. We've lived in Ohio. So I feel like, although this is home. I'm a fourth generation Fort Wayne native I have lived at all different places across the country.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: But I've come back home twice. So this is where this is where I meant to be.
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Tom Baker: So that's that's home what what was
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Tom Baker: What was it that took you wandering. It took you to so many places.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Now my first marriage. I was married to a gentleman for 23 years and he was a professional golf instructor
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: So we traveled around the country to different different golf clubs and so they we we moved. We moved a lot. And then when that marriage ended.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: That was when I was in Atlanta. We ended up coming back to Indiana and i i left to go to Indianapolis, which is a which is our largest city in in Indiana fort Wayne's the second largest city in Indiana went down there and worked for a while and then came back to Fort Wayne
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Tom Baker: And can you tell us a little bit about like what what it is you do now.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Sure. Um, I am I am the Vice President of Corporate and community impact for greater Fort Wayne, Inc.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And what we are, as we are the economic development arm plus combined with the chamber. So our, what we do is we we are working to have a recognized national economy.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: In Fort Wayne, we have tremendous momentum due to the leadership and due to the commitment that our community leaders and and residents have made to grow northeast, Indiana.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: It's just a really exciting place to live and it's fun to be to be a part of that economic development and growth. So that's, that's what I do. But I do a lot of other things as well. I
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I do a lot of nonprofit work I do a lot of mentoring, one of my passions is is mentoring, the next generation of leaders.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Matter of fact, I just got off of a zoom call with high school students talking about the power of now. And so I do. So I do a lot of things I have a very passion list of what I am involved in
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Tom Baker: Yeah, getting getting to know you a little bit of an astronaut.
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Tom Baker: You have like endless energy, it seems
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like you just have like I wish I had your motor, I would get much more done
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I am very thankful for it.
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Tom Baker: Yeah, it's definitely it's definitely an asset and what can you tell us, it may be some of the other positions that you've held like over time as I know you've, you've done a variety of things just to give us an idea, a little bit about your background.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Absolutely. Um, I've worked for at AMP T I was lucky enough to right out of college. I worked for at AMP T I worked on.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: In basking ridge, New Jersey. So I was actually at headquarters and then came to Chicago and worked for I was lucky enough at my account with the Chicago Bulls.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And we did the long distance shoot out, it was, it was one of the first, if not the first corporate partnership between a corporation and a major league sporting team, so that was fun. And that was during the Michael Jordan years
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Tom Baker: Yeah, watch the documentary, yes. Oh, yes.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: So I actually got to be down on the floor and we sponsored the we sponsored the long distance shoot out so we would pick people from the audience to come down and do some halftime
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Entertainment. It was also with the divestiture of the bell system. So we were getting people to choose their long distance company. So that was a big coup for at AMP t because we
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Not only were part of the halftime entertainment. What we also had the bulls account. And so that's kind of where we were moving from there. I've had various opportunities.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I founded a co founded a large nonprofit here our community for people who have severe mental illnesses.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: My brother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. At the age of 19
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And changed my life and my family's life and we founded, along with other people here in the community we founded a nonprofit that now serves over 1600 people in the community.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: So have raised millions of dollars for that organization. And then on top of that, I was, I worked for Mike Pence when Mike Pence ran for governor I was his deputy finance director, so I raised the money.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: So when he was when he was on the campaign trail raise the money.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: He was the governor of the state of Indiana before he was selected as the Vice President and and in the Mike Pence administration. I was Karen pencils. So the Second Lady of the United States now. Okay.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And while she served as First Lady. I was her chief of staff. Okay, so, and then I came back here and I've worked for various nonprofits until I joined the economic development team about a year, a year and a half ago.
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Tom Baker: So just, just so like the way I can see. Tell me if I'm wrong. So like you're you're getting your the network that you've developed the in the business experience that you have and now your mission is to
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Tom Baker: Use those that network and knowledge to help draw investment to greater Fort Wayne to spur economic development and then it's about creating like partnerships with the between the Community and business and creating and drawing into the national economy.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Yes, that's exactly what I do. And you know what we have. I also do a lot of talent development. So things like what we call leadership Fort Wayne or an L two point O is which is next level leadership. I also work a lot with
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: With our women's network. I mean, we have what we would consider traditional chamber.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Kind of programming. So oversee that I also oversee all of our advocacy, which is all working with our elected officials, I have a really super talented team.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: But oversee eight different divisions within our within our organization that ranges from communication to advocacy to programming to leadership to, you know, to, to, to certain aspects of of investor acquisition
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Because we're a membership based organization.
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Tom Baker: Right. Like I said, energy
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Tom Baker: So many things so many things on the go.
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Tom Baker: So when I met you in Aspen and we got to know each other over like the better part of like four days. I think we were
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Tom Baker: Together. I think so.
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Tom Baker: And it was a fantastic experiences. Very. I mean, it was the kind of experience that I never thought I would ever sort of have and I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about what it was that drew what it was that drew you there. What, what, what took you to Aspen
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Well, it's really interesting because, to be quite honest and transparent I I had never heard of Aspen, I didn't really know
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: What a global think tank really look like, or I was never a part of that I was never probably more on that, like, really high level academic side. And so when
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I hosted a friend of mine named Jamie elder, who's a member of our community, he's friends with Cordell Carter, who runs the Socrates program.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And we hosted Cordell in Fort Wayne and I had no idea like it sounds, naive to say that I just simply didn't know what Cordell did I knew his title, and I knew
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know that I knew that he was somebody important coming into our community to kind of get a feel for what we were doing.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: So I treated him the exact same way I treat every other person that I come in contact with. And we had a terrific day.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And after that day ended. I ended up getting an email from from Cornell inviting me to participate in in in Aspen at the Global Institute, and I was floored. Like I questioned whether like am I smart enough to be at the table. Am I, you know, what am I equipped to do this and
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Tom Baker: So I'm here. I was like, well,
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Tom Baker: Did you like to do at this place. Yeah, like these people are
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Tom Baker: out of my league kind of a thing.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like look value like what value. Am I going to add, and I don't want to be. I don't want to just take up space. I knew that if I said yes to this opportunity. It was because I would be able to add value, not just take but but to be able to give
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And so then when I was deciding which which which class to take seminar to take
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I decided to take the harder route. I decided if I'm going to do this, that I'm going to jump straight in the deep end. Like, I'm going to take the native son bus you know the history of race in America. And I'm going to dive in and I don't know how you chose years
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Tom Baker: It was, it was very, very similar thing for me where what I I study policing police use of force and race is a constant i mean it's it's just a
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Tom Baker: ever present feature and that research. I mean it's, I mean, going back to the beginning of policing in America, it's, it's a constant component and
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Tom Baker: I saw this is when I saw this as an opportunity and I saw, who was who was moderating it Thomas Chatterton Williams is going to be moderating and
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Tom Baker: Heard the description. I thought it would be a valuable addition like a way to augment my education on
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Tom Baker: That topic because it's it's it's
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Tom Baker: You know gig what what a fantastic opportunity to learn about got subject from in that space from the people that would be drawn there. I just, I was just like, I can't pass that up, but I guess it. I was nervous about it.
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Tom Baker: Because of my identity, you know, I'm a white guy former police officer, so I hadn't anticipated that I would be received in a very particular kind of way. And I was surprised to find that I that I wasn't received in that way at all.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Well, and I had the same feeling, Tom. I mean, here I am, I am a white woman from the Midwest Christian and conservative
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I knew that going into that room like
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I needed to be completely vulnerable or I wasn't going to be able to like really understand the depths of an understanding of the learning that I could do. And as you know, because I talked about it in class.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: But because I wanted to add value, it led me down this journey of research. I mean, almost like I mean like literally sitting up at night, one and two o'clock in the morning, like literally going through books.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Um, because in in my upbringing, my history was very limited and I needed to fully understand so i i read 15 different books 15
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: On the topic of racism, the history of slavery mean we studied Baldwin and we studied, you know, all of them and Buckley and and i and i just it led to more questions, right.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Me just lead to more. So then what I did is, I'm I met with 15 of our top black
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Leaders within our community. Like I sat down with these black leaders and I said, hey, this is what I'm doing and I really need to hear your perspective on our community because I want to go and I want to come back to our community. And I want to add great value.
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Tom Baker: So this is before you even went to ask or I
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Even went
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Tom Baker: So, you, you, you found this opportunity was pretty sort of fell into your scanner and
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Invited me and I said yes.
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Tom Baker: You said, I'm going to take the harder path and then you read up and you did your research ahead of time. And then you also made effort made an attempt to develop a network so that when you return to the community, you will be able to learn us what you learned
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Tom Baker: And leverage that. Okay.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Please continue. That was like October through February. I mean, I was really mean when I would call and I literally would make
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know, coffee or lunch appointments or, you know, just to say like can I can I meet with you. I wanted, I want to ask you questions.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: This was at the same time that I was reading everything that I was reading and learning everything that I was learning and watching documentaries and and it led me down this path of like how much I didn't know
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: That was like the big aha for me was like, I just didn't know and I just posted something on social media, like if you're wondering how we got here. Like, you have to understand the history. So part of what we experienced Tom was this
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I don't know, few Americans or people in the country who who have gotten to have the opportunity that we've we've we've gone to jail.
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Tom Baker: No definite, can you can you maybe so, just so people because I didn't really describe it really describe what that what we can you maybe so. So you fly to Denver. So I'm just thinking. If there is someone who's thinking about attending Aspen
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Tom Baker: Or is really curious about what the Socrates program is can you maybe just also you land and
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Tom Baker: You get invited you make plans you arrive in Denver, what happens
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: We arrive in Denver. I'm still reading I read you know I read all the way on the airplane. I read in the car i mean i i was my biggest fear is that I wasn't smart enough to be in the room.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I'm going to fast forward a little bit because I think because I am white Midwestern Christian and conservative. I think I added value. I mean, I think.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Obviously my perspective was so different than everyone else's. And because I came in with the feeling of being vulnerable and all of that. I think that my experience was.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: My experience was very rich, but so I so I'm driving to Aspen again like you know. Am I, am I kind of worthy of a seat at the table.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And then I got there, and we were, we had a reception on Friday night. And again, this, this idea of a global think tank and the idea that they bring what they consider like the smartest people in the world together to solve the most pressing issues, right, that's kind of how it was presented
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And so when I got there Friday night. And here's the big aha, right. Everybody was just like, like me, like they were all nervous.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: They weren't like where some of them were some of them admitted that they were
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: But, you know, but it was one of those feelings, where I walked around. And I thought, you know what, like we're all going to add value to each other's lives.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like we're not like standing here tonight on Friday night. I know that when I leave here I will be different. And there was a huge awareness of that going into it. Right.
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Tom Baker: I decided very, very similar feelings going up there and sort of I wasn't fully aware of. I knew what the Aspen Institute was sort of Bay at a basic level, but
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Tom Baker: Doing a little bit of research before I arrived. It was very intimidating when you look at the list of names of sort of people that are invited up there.
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Tom Baker: And I'm like, I'm a beat cop, you know, like, that's what I'm a police officer, you know, from working class sort of background. So it was very
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Tom Baker: Intimidating. But then I had that very similar experience you mine was a little later it was I was nervous for first first day or so, but
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Tom Baker: Mine was once getting to know you guys a little bit more in the
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Tom Baker: In the in in the end that's like, once we started learning together. So you get there you go through that you go through that initial night and the nerves are alleviated a little bit and sort of. Can you talk us through the rest of the weekend.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Sure, well you know what the eye opening for me is Friday night went well. Like, you know, we were at the reception. We talked to people. We had the dinner. Everything was nice. We sat with people from different
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Different seminars. So we got to know a lot of people in the class. And then when that next morning hit
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I'll never forget it. And I tell the story a lot, but I said something about, you know, like trying to add value, right, because we all have to talk every hour, and I was reminded that I don't know if you remember, but
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: So saying to me, Brenda, you have to talk
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I really, you know, because I was taking it all in. And I remember saying something which now I look back, and I'm glad I was called out on it. But I said, you know,
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I'm not sure what to say. Because I'm not sure if I have a language. I'm not sure that I have the language to enter into a conversation where it will appear hurtful or if I say the wrong thing. I may be labeled differently than what I intend my language to be
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Tom Baker: Right.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And sometimes when I said something sweet been like this. Like sometimes white people are uncomfortable because we don't know what to say.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I remember. And I remember who was in the class, but for the sake of this conversation, one of our classmates spoke up and they said the point of this is not your comfort.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like basically like get, get over it because we're, we're like, we're tired of making white people comfortable
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like we're like basically like we don't care whether you're comfortable or not. And I remember that. That was like that aha moment where I thought, you know what
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like I'm done with the pretense. We're going to get real here. I'm going to get really vulnerable because I was called out like within the first hour
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like, you know, kind of like because you know I went in there and doing all this research thinking I was going to add value. And I thought, you know what, just let it all just let it all go
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And and that's kind of when she called me out on it. I went, you know what, you're right. This is not about me coming in here and feeling comfortable. This is about me getting as comfortable as I can with feeling as uncomfortable if again.
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Tom Baker: Right. And it was in the in the topic that we were discussing wasn't just race in America, but it was it was
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Tom Baker: It was books and sections of books and articles written by black men who had experienced racial oppression in the United States going
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Tom Baker: Back to people who are trying to justify that they're an actual human being. And, you know, like it's this really deep sort of sort of thing. So I was, I felt the same way. It's like
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Tom Baker: I'm entering this conversation with people who spend, you know, this is there. This is their area of expertise and they know what to say how to say it.
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Tom Baker: Where you know with the state of the knowledge is right now. And I felt like a fish out of water part partially big part of its my identity, like you, you know, as a former police officer conservative Woman We're different. But we have a similar sort of coming and
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Tom Baker: So it was very, it was very intimidating.
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Tom Baker: I thought I felt that as well.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: But now, because of the experience I have a whole lot. I have more courage like because of that experience. I came back to my community and want to start these, you know, these really difficult conversations
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And basically tell you know like the conversation kind of starts with, you know, we have to have a starting point.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: To start talking about race relations and system, you know, systematic discrimination and and and we have to come up with a common language. I mean, I've committed
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I know that I've said this probably 100 times in the last few weeks, but I'm doing away with the word minority like it's not a part of my vocabulary anymore.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: I mean I'm just simply going to not do what I mean it sounds like it's marginalized and like the word, you know, what can we do, where can we start, I mean, I was on a call we were talking about racism on a call. We're having lots of this kind of lots of these conversations, which
00:18:22.800 --> 00:18:23.130
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Is
00:18:23.250 --> 00:18:30.900
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Which I'm really glad about and I'm not going to let my getting like my foot off the gas like we're going to keep talking about it and I'm going to keep pushing forward.
00:18:31.440 --> 00:18:37.380
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But somebody said to me quit reaching out to your black friends and asking them if your messaging is right.
00:18:37.920 --> 00:18:47.400
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like you come up with a messaging you tell us why you hurt us or kill us or how you feel about us and that really resonated with me like like
00:18:48.030 --> 00:18:52.560
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like, they've been doing this for a very very long time. It's it you know white America is now like waking up.
00:18:53.190 --> 00:19:07.110
Brenda Gerber Vincent: To say like, what can, what can we do, because obviously dating back to Lincoln link, we're still having the same conversations you know with Martin Luther King and here we are. Fast forward to 2020 and so much of what we read back in the 1800s. Right, let's
00:19:07.170 --> 00:19:07.800
Tom Baker: Say that
00:19:07.860 --> 00:19:13.560
Tom Baker: slavery still when you read the things that are being written today. They're very you see the echoes
00:19:13.890 --> 00:19:17.010
Tom Baker: Yeah, through time. Like they haven't been fully addressed.
00:19:17.370 --> 00:19:17.730
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Right.
00:19:17.910 --> 00:19:19.440
Tom Baker: At all really addressed.
00:19:19.860 --> 00:19:35.490
Brenda Gerber Vincent: No, they really haven't so we're we're putting together five initiatives that we're going to launch here in the next couple weeks that we're going to put some we're going to put some action behind you know our statement that we we are going to do things better.
00:19:35.610 --> 00:19:37.380
Tom Baker: You know, we tell us a little bit about what
00:19:38.850 --> 00:19:46.260
Brenda Gerber Vincent: We're doing you know when we're doing some really cool initiatives we have this thing in our community where it's a leadership class, and it's a high level leadership class and
00:19:46.770 --> 00:19:51.690
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And it's, it's something that you invest in something that has a 38 year history.
00:19:52.650 --> 00:20:01.620
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And so part of it is we look back over our alumni, which is about 1400 people in our alumni and there are very few people of color. Very few.
00:20:02.190 --> 00:20:09.780
Brenda Gerber Vincent: So we brought on, you know, before any of this, I have to tell you this work started a year ago. So this isn't working. I admittedly I'm accelerating the work
00:20:10.260 --> 00:20:14.370
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But this work started a year ago with conversations that we simply had to be intentional.
00:20:14.700 --> 00:20:24.630
Brenda Gerber Vincent: About bringing people of color onto this leadership program. So we actually brought on to black advisors, excuse me, one Hispanic and one black advisor to come on and help us through this journey.
00:20:25.260 --> 00:20:34.110
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And one thing we found is that, you know, we tell the history of our community. And I've read over the history, a couple times. I like I said I'm a fourth generation.
00:20:34.740 --> 00:20:40.950
Brenda Gerber Vincent: community member and I and I heard the history told over and over again. But you know what, it doesn't include it doesn't include redlining
00:20:41.580 --> 00:20:51.750
Brenda Gerber Vincent: It doesn't include the fact that, you know, banks, you know, circled parts of our town and made a decision not to lend to those people, it doesn't include busing and all of those issues. So I've asked my team.
00:20:52.200 --> 00:21:00.750
Brenda Gerber Vincent: To rewrite our community's history because we teach it during this leadership class. And I said, No longer is it acceptable to teach the teach the history of our community.
00:21:01.260 --> 00:21:09.960
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Without including these really big important parts that are just simply have been left out and it's no longer acceptable for this leadership class to not reflect
00:21:10.350 --> 00:21:18.360
Brenda Gerber Vincent: The complexion of our community. So that's one. The second one, we're doing is we're assembling key leaders around small round table discussions.
00:21:18.720 --> 00:21:30.780
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And we're getting real. It's kind of like what we did an aspen we're creating a safe environment where people can trust that they can ask questions. There are a lot of people who want to do good and just simply don't know where to start. And I know that conversation.
00:21:31.500 --> 00:21:33.720
Brenda Gerber Vincent: drives people nuts, but it's true.
00:21:34.110 --> 00:21:41.100
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And so we're going to provide an outlet. So we're going to provide it a chance and an opportunity for people to talk about different different things that are
00:21:41.670 --> 00:21:47.820
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Are are going on right now. The other thing we're going to do is we're going to, we're going to develop a board prepared this class.
00:21:48.240 --> 00:21:58.050
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And basically, what we did is we looked at, we looked at seven of some of our largest nonprofits here in the community, which consists of about 120 120 members of those boards.
00:21:58.410 --> 00:22:06.780
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I think the statistic was like maybe four people out of that hundred and 20 where people of color on these very important boards and it's you know it's my feeling that if we don't have
00:22:06.780 --> 00:22:15.360
Tom Baker: This board. These boards boards of the people are making the decisions they're making the decisions right when there's no people of color voices on the on the thing and
00:22:15.750 --> 00:22:19.230
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know, and I've said this, this is a little bit of a soapbox for me and my community. They hear it.
00:22:19.560 --> 00:22:25.620
Brenda Gerber Vincent: All too often, but I keep saying if we don't have diversity of thought and perspective, we're never going to get this community where it needs to be.
00:22:25.950 --> 00:22:35.640
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I'm talking age, race, you know, sexual orientation, I'm saying all diversity, including that our disability community. I mean we have to have
00:22:36.090 --> 00:22:46.380
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Everyone represented, we have to have their perspective, we have to have their voice at the table in order to move us forward. So in creating this board preparedness program, basically we're developing a curriculum.
00:22:47.490 --> 00:22:57.300
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You and we're it'll be like, you know, maybe $10 so don't money will not be a barrier, but we are going to intentionally open this up to 30
00:22:58.680 --> 00:23:07.470
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Black and Hispanic leaders in our community. And we're going to prepare them to sit on a board. So from day one, they'll be able to contribute.
00:23:07.980 --> 00:23:13.590
Brenda Gerber Vincent: So we're going to teach them things like you know how to read a financial statement, how to do a budget. What are the bylaws. What are the Robert's Rules.
00:23:13.980 --> 00:23:25.830
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know we we put people on boards and then they're like glazed over, including myself, when I was on my first board like I spent a whole year. Not like not knowing what to do or what to say or when to speak or when to vote.
00:23:26.700 --> 00:23:34.440
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And so I don't want to do that. Anybody else so we're gonna we're going to do a program. And then at the end of that I will have 30
00:23:35.010 --> 00:23:50.070
Brenda Gerber Vincent: People who I will be able to send that list to our boards in our community. And I'm going to say, you know what, by the end of this year. It is our hope that not not one because i don't i don't want people to, you know, to think of this as a checkbox, like, you know, and so
00:23:50.310 --> 00:24:02.280
Tom Baker: So you're going to go out and actively recruit people and then say, hey, what can I do to provide what can I provide you to help you secure positions on boards and then go to people in power and say, Hey, let's get people on
00:24:02.550 --> 00:24:06.000
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Here, here's a, here's a, here's a group of 30 outstanding.
00:24:06.240 --> 00:24:18.930
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Leaders who would bring great perspective to your boards and they're they're ready to go, they probably know you know they're going to be better prepared than maybe some of your board members that are on your board now they're ready to go and
00:24:19.530 --> 00:24:24.000
Tom Baker: I'm sorry to interrupt me so it just because because a lot of people. I don't think they know like like
00:24:24.210 --> 00:24:33.240
Tom Baker: So like a border, like if you're on a board of directors for an organization getting that kind of getting that kind of a position, it's a it's about having a certain
00:24:33.780 --> 00:24:40.560
Tom Baker: Set of knowledge, having certain knowledge about certain things, but it's also about being in the network of people who are
00:24:41.580 --> 00:24:41.880
Tom Baker: About
00:24:42.450 --> 00:24:49.020
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Disadvantage right people that sit on board have this advantage of having this network of leaders that they meet with regularly.
00:24:49.830 --> 00:25:00.390
Brenda Gerber Vincent: They have the opportunity to to go far beyond their what their businesses and and provide leadership in a way that is not afforded to people who aren't on boards.
00:25:01.230 --> 00:25:06.030
Brenda Gerber Vincent: It also is an opportunity to move these nonprofits forward right because they're either governing
00:25:06.570 --> 00:25:13.380
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Or their policy boards are governing boards or maybe they're, you know, it depends on, on, you know, the board and it depends on the nonprofit.
00:25:14.010 --> 00:25:23.610
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But, but the point of all of it is, is people of color are woefully underrepresented in my community on the boards and commissions and
00:25:24.150 --> 00:25:37.320
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And it's one thing that we can we can change and you know in I am tired and I will tell you this from a female perspective, people will call me all the time. And they'll say, hey, we need a woman on our board.
00:25:38.520 --> 00:25:41.430
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I'll say, Well, do you need one or do you want one.
00:25:42.120 --> 00:25:44.970
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And you want one, or do you want seven
00:25:45.690 --> 00:26:00.630
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I mean, it really like and then they kind of hesitate, they're like, yeah, that was really stupid. I go, yeah, like we're not a checkbox women aren't a checkbox, people of color on a checkbox. I mean, it just, you can't have like one. And they say, okay, we've done. We've done it.
00:26:00.690 --> 00:26:13.740
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Right, no longer acceptable it's it's not acceptable for me. And as long as I'm in this leadership role that I have. I'm going to continue pushing forward that we should have diversity of thought in every aspect and every board and every Commission.
00:26:14.100 --> 00:26:15.780
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Okay, I know I'm going long winded. No.
00:26:15.780 --> 00:26:19.230
Tom Baker: No, no, please. Please continue. That's, that's
00:26:19.260 --> 00:26:19.800
Tom Baker: Putting that's
00:26:19.830 --> 00:26:20.910
Tom Baker: Really putting people
00:26:21.240 --> 00:26:26.670
Tom Baker: That's getting that's creating pathways for people to gain power does
00:26:26.970 --> 00:26:31.980
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Oh, absolutely, and matter of fact, Jamie elder, who is also an aspen.
00:26:32.070 --> 00:26:42.150
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Graduate who's a good friend of Cornell's he actually wrote the framework for the program. The board program. And he actually calls it share the power
00:26:42.480 --> 00:26:49.710
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Okay, it's, it's actually like in he actually wrote it, we're co partnering and WITH THE BLACK AND HISPANIC CHAMBER.
00:26:50.310 --> 00:26:55.920
Brenda Gerber Vincent: We're going to co partner. All of these programs. So Jamie. Actually, that's the tie in with Aspen with him.
00:26:56.340 --> 00:27:07.110
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And then the, the fourth program out of five is we have what we call a bridge program and what we identified in our community is that we had a really exciting and
00:27:07.710 --> 00:27:13.020
Brenda Gerber Vincent: A lot of momentum in our entrepreneurial community and we have a thriving corporate community, but they weren't they weren't connected
00:27:13.650 --> 00:27:18.900
Brenda Gerber Vincent: They didn't help each other out. And we knew that if a corporation partner with an entrepreneur, it would be great.
00:27:19.470 --> 00:27:24.780
Brenda Gerber Vincent: A great help to accelerate not only the awareness, but the growth of the nonprofit without small entrepreneur.
00:27:25.500 --> 00:27:35.430
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Because they could learn best practices and lessons from corporate partners. We're going to do that same program, but we're going to do it for people of color. We're going to make sure that if there are
00:27:36.120 --> 00:27:38.940
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Black and Brown own businesses within our community.
00:27:39.330 --> 00:27:45.780
Brenda Gerber Vincent: That we're going to partner them with corporations to accelerate their growth and we're going to accelerate their wares and we're going to do it intentionally
00:27:46.080 --> 00:27:50.100
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like, I'm not going to apologize for it, right, because we have to start moving things forward.
00:27:50.490 --> 00:27:58.500
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I'm going to accelerate the pace. So we're going to do these intentional programs to try to help the small businesses thrive in our community.
00:27:58.800 --> 00:28:13.440
Brenda Gerber Vincent: With the support of our corporate partners. And the last thing we're going to do is that we're going to create a webinar series, we're going to create webinars, where, you know, big corporations have diversity officers, they're lucky enough to have somebody actually on staff.
00:28:13.830 --> 00:28:21.150
Brenda Gerber Vincent: That does this for a living. They wake up in the morning and this is their focus, but the reality is, is that most companies don't have that.
00:28:21.330 --> 00:28:28.260
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Right. They don't have. They don't have Diversity Officer. So what we're going to try to do is we're going to try to add value to businesses that don't have diversity officers.
00:28:28.590 --> 00:28:37.080
Brenda Gerber Vincent: By offering these open community discussions through a webinar series to help companies kind of navigate these discussions.
00:28:37.380 --> 00:28:42.870
Brenda Gerber Vincent: So those are the. Those are kind of like the five pillars that we're doing will launch those in the next couple weeks.
00:28:43.770 --> 00:28:49.380
Brenda Gerber Vincent: It's been exciting, we put out a statement, we said, you know what, we're gonna we're going to put action behind words.
00:28:49.890 --> 00:28:58.110
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And we're really excited about where we're going. But you know what, again, I go back to, like, you know, being an aspen was the perfect preparation for the work that I'm doing now.
00:28:59.460 --> 00:29:02.850
Tom Baker: But just to touch on one thing on the last, the last thing you touched on.
00:29:04.050 --> 00:29:16.890
Tom Baker: The webinar so so I'm imagining a small company in the Fort Wayne area and there you know just not not many employees and there they want to improve as a company and be
00:29:17.220 --> 00:29:25.050
Tom Baker: You know more, but they don't have the resources to hire someone to focus full time on the on subjects like you know diversity inclusion, those sorts of things.
00:29:25.410 --> 00:29:30.480
Tom Baker: That it's a real it'd be a free resource for them to to get access. Okay, excellent, and
00:29:30.960 --> 00:29:42.900
Tom Baker: If you know I wanted to talk about one thing that you mentioned, just before we started the conversation just before we hit record. You'd mentioned your, your faith playing a role in this. Is that something you'd feel comfortable
00:29:43.950 --> 00:29:46.020
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Yeah, no, I'm really comfortable talking about my faith.
00:29:46.260 --> 00:29:52.590
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Could you talk a little bit about a little bit about like the, the, the, you're talking about the aspen experience connecting to
00:29:52.830 --> 00:30:01.830
Tom Baker: What's happening now the work you're doing now and it sounds like faith is sort of like a string that's connecting those two experiences. Can you talk about that.
00:30:01.920 --> 00:30:06.780
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Yeah, I can talk about that. It's kind of fun to look in the rearview mirror because again why
00:30:07.230 --> 00:30:18.660
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like why I met Cordell, you know. Then he turned around, inviting me picking seminar that was completely because I was drawn to the power one the power of power.
00:30:18.690 --> 00:30:22.380
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I'm not sure exactly the name of it, but I was drawn to that. But I thought, you know what, that's too easy.
00:30:23.400 --> 00:30:33.300
Brenda Gerber Vincent: It's too easy. I that's not what I want. And so for me to then go to to go to the seminar that we picked to study the history of racism.
00:30:35.760 --> 00:30:44.820
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I look back now because of the position that I already hold in this community, the discussions that were already there, the work that we're already doing. And there's a lot of people in my community.
00:30:45.090 --> 00:30:52.470
Brenda Gerber Vincent: That are that are doing a lot of great work. So in no way am I like here representing you know the work being done. I'm one person.
00:30:52.470 --> 00:30:56.850
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Right, trying to make a difference. And there are thousands of people in my community, making a difference.
00:30:57.480 --> 00:31:08.280
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But I feel like, you know, looking back that God had me God had me there for a reason. And again, I say that it was the perfect preparation for the work that I am doing now and in the future.
00:31:09.270 --> 00:31:15.870
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I'm really energized and I know it's because I took the time to fly to Aspen to dedicate my time and money.
00:31:16.770 --> 00:31:21.720
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But what it was God's prompting I can't tell you why I signed up to that I even told my husband on the way to Aspen
00:31:22.230 --> 00:31:34.350
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I really don't know why I signed up for this. The seminar and then I laugh at God, I'm like okay like so maybe you know better than I do the work that I needed to do before I lead some of these initiatives.
00:31:35.040 --> 00:31:47.850
Tom Baker: And maybe the your path, even before you decided to go to Aspen, the experiences that you had Frank created the individual that was necessary for us all in that room.
00:31:48.360 --> 00:31:55.560
Tom Baker: To to have their for us to have the experiences we had it is a very is very good. I'm also a spiritual person as well so
00:31:56.520 --> 00:32:06.510
Tom Baker: I do, I do feel as though, is it's very you know I it's it's inspiring when I, when I think about it in that in that kind of the way. So yeah, I can see how you feel about
00:32:06.930 --> 00:32:07.440
Tom Baker: Well, yeah.
00:32:07.500 --> 00:32:15.540
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I pray a lot. I pray over our land. I pray for people. I pray for our leaders, I pray for our police officers man pray a lot
00:32:16.710 --> 00:32:26.280
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And you do believe in the power of prayer. So that's kind of how my faith enters into my kind of professional life and kind of who I am. I'm only one person. So it's all incorporated into one.
00:32:27.000 --> 00:32:44.880
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like, as you said, energy, but it's all, it's all into one thing, but I'm constantly my faith is my faith is tested a lot and and i think that you know with conviction and and you know through through my understanding of Scripture and how I believe it. It keeps me on course.
00:32:46.650 --> 00:32:48.390
Brenda Gerber Vincent: So that, that's kind of where
00:32:48.780 --> 00:33:00.690
Tom Baker: Do you feel as though, like the work you're doing now. Do you feel like especially on these issues of these issues of race, do you feel as though that is your duty as a Christian to promote
00:33:02.850 --> 00:33:07.050
Tom Baker: healing of the of the injuries that have been caused by, you know,
00:33:08.250 --> 00:33:09.810
Brenda Gerber Vincent: That's an interesting question, Tom.
00:33:10.920 --> 00:33:20.400
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I feel that I have been given tremendous opportunity and I feel that you know God's blessings upon me, have been great. And, you know, as they say much who's given, much is expected.
00:33:21.120 --> 00:33:33.270
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I, I, I, I felt it was a spiritual journey for me to go to Aspen, I felt like it was I felt like in the moment. Like I had, I didn't know what what God was preparing me for
00:33:34.440 --> 00:33:46.020
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I mean, why was, why was a white woman from the Midwest, whose conservative and Christian pick to go. I think I was the only Midwesterner, and in the group. I was one of maybe five white maybe five white people in the group.
00:33:46.590 --> 00:33:52.980
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I was, you know, I don't know how many only I was, but I know that I wasn't it didn't feel like I was like everybody else. Right.
00:33:53.490 --> 00:34:02.340
Brenda Gerber Vincent: So why was I picked do this and I've had lots of discussions about this again. I keep coming back to God's perfect plan, but then coming back to my community to make a difference.
00:34:02.670 --> 00:34:07.290
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I would not have been the first person in the community, people would have pointed to and said she's going to make a difference.
00:34:08.070 --> 00:34:20.370
Brenda Gerber Vincent: In, in, you know, raise conversations within our community. And I'm really stepping forward to to get out of my comfort zone to lead some of those efforts that wouldn't have happened without God's provision.
00:34:20.850 --> 00:34:33.240
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And you know the all of those things that had to line up to me that's not a coincidence at all. I believe that that was that that was planned out well in advance of of me going, I don't know. I mean, that's how I feel. No.
00:34:33.270 --> 00:34:34.830
Brenda Gerber Vincent: No, that's, that's kind of how
00:34:35.940 --> 00:34:38.040
Brenda Gerber Vincent: My faith place in that and
00:34:38.130 --> 00:34:40.260
Tom Baker: My mind is about the
00:34:41.280 --> 00:34:46.590
Tom Baker: The sense of within the, in the end, we're gonna, I had this feeling that we're going to look
00:34:47.130 --> 00:34:54.000
Tom Baker: There's going to be a moment where we look back on our lives as we've lived them and the decisions we've made and the impact, we've had on the people around us.
00:34:54.420 --> 00:35:01.440
Tom Baker: And I don't, I can't, I don't fully understand and exactly our wire this turn into a conversation if our religion. I'm sorry for
00:35:03.420 --> 00:35:03.930
Brenda Gerber Vincent: My faith.
00:35:06.180 --> 00:35:17.280
Tom Baker: And I, and I think and i don't know i don't understand what that judgment will look like if it's something of judging myself for some external force, but I do feel as though that there is some
00:35:18.690 --> 00:35:20.400
Tom Baker: Some overriding
00:35:21.420 --> 00:35:32.130
Tom Baker: Thing that we need to be right to whether we call it God. I don't know what it is, but I, I respect your perspective on it. And I think I understand it better than
00:35:32.970 --> 00:35:39.600
Tom Baker: I might have thought I, you know, then some people might think I would as another not not a practicing Christian. But anyway, I just wanted to
00:35:39.690 --> 00:35:42.030
Tom Baker: Like okay so
00:35:43.530 --> 00:35:48.900
Tom Baker: You, you're this, you're part of the conservative conservative movement business, you go to
00:35:49.260 --> 00:35:59.820
Tom Baker: Aspen your, you know, your embedded in this very different environment and it's it's a it's an informative experience for you and you want to evoke change in your community.
00:36:00.180 --> 00:36:13.890
Tom Baker: And you return, how, how is this received. I'm sure there are different groups and different perspectives of people variety wide variety of people that you know, can you talk a little bit about maybe some of the positive experiences you've had, and maybe. Have you had any sort of pushback.
00:36:14.610 --> 00:36:19.290
Brenda Gerber Vincent: No, you know, I think the best conversations I had with my children. I have to
00:36:19.770 --> 00:36:26.070
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Two amazing kids. I said, You know, I raised them and then they turned around and raised me. I mean, most, most of the most important to kind of
00:36:26.460 --> 00:36:37.920
Brenda Gerber Vincent: We have, we have good we have good discussion. My daughter lives in San Francisco and and my son lives in New York City. So I have them both. I have them both. I have on one on both coasts.
00:36:38.580 --> 00:36:53.040
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And we have we have different views, but we really truly respect each other I raised two very independent thinkers. I mean, I was mostly a single mom, raising these two children, and I always laugh on like how did this conservative mom from the Midwest race such liberal
00:36:53.280 --> 00:37:02.070
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know over and who now or on the coast. But you know what they've opened my eyes to different perspectives. I mean, my, my son is is
00:37:03.420 --> 00:37:18.450
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Is is a writer. He's a professional writer and he wrote a piece on quiet racism and it was beautifully written and it and it was the depth of knowledge that he brought to it as a 28 year old you know almost 20 year old.
00:37:19.800 --> 00:37:37.230
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Male and it was like one of those feelings of like he gets it. Like he gets it, like, maybe it will be this generation that really truly now. I mean, maybe this generational do it so I you know. So I think for me.
00:37:39.660 --> 00:37:45.630
Brenda Gerber Vincent: It's continuing to kind of walk through all of these uncomfortable situations. I've never been afraid to stand alone.
00:37:46.290 --> 00:37:57.750
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I've never been afraid to put my stake in the ground and say this is exactly who I am, you know, people ask all the time. Why are you Republican. I've been a republican through five, five different you know
00:37:59.010 --> 00:38:09.930
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Five different presidents and that doesn't waver i mean i republican because I believe in smaller government. I believe in a strong military and I believe in capitalism. I believe the business can do it better than government
00:38:10.380 --> 00:38:19.380
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I don't waver on those things, you know, but are there things that have. Do I agree with anybody fully No, absolutely not. I mean, I have my own ideas about
00:38:19.770 --> 00:38:33.930
Brenda Gerber Vincent: about social issues and and and how that plays out. So I've never been one who's always been like willing to stand alone because I know my why behind it. I mean, and that's what gives me conviction because i don't i don't change.
00:38:35.580 --> 00:38:40.080
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I'm a, I'm able to stand alone. So when I want. So now I go back to your question.
00:38:41.460 --> 00:38:43.350
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I will, I will continue like being
00:38:46.080 --> 00:38:54.540
Brenda Gerber Vincent: This person who wants to make a change in my community because, number one, I think that we have to, but I feel resolute in in if I don't
00:38:56.160 --> 00:39:05.460
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I watched George Floyd be murdered. Like I watched that whole thing and I and I forced myself to watch it several times and I wanted it burned in my memory.
00:39:06.180 --> 00:39:18.390
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But why did that have to be my wake up call, like right white like it caused a sense of urgency. So when you said when I came home from Aspen unfortunately was like a slow burn. I didn't do a whole lot out of the gate.
00:39:19.440 --> 00:39:37.680
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I talked about it to people. I told him about my experience was. But I didn't go into action that it wasn't until these recent events. Did I accelerate my conversation. My attitude my, you know, talking to my team so unfortunately for me, which is, you know, not proud of.
00:39:39.270 --> 00:39:42.840
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But it took something. It took something like that for me to accelerate
00:39:44.010 --> 00:39:44.700
Brenda Gerber Vincent: My action.
00:39:45.660 --> 00:40:08.010
Tom Baker: No, I, I feel the same way. Like, I, I, and I study. I've been studying this for four years now, I guess, and I feel a sense of urgency watching that I mean that was I mean I've so I've like in this last year I went through 1700 and 59 different police related deaths and read accounts.
00:40:08.100 --> 00:40:09.120
Brenda Gerber Vincent: From them for my
00:40:09.120 --> 00:40:17.040
Tom Baker: Work and I've watched countless. I mean, I don't know how many times I've watched videos of police officers involved in shootings and
00:40:17.430 --> 00:40:24.690
Tom Baker: Running people over and I look at them and I'm able to say, okay, well, I think the officer made this mistake or this one looks like it was justifiable.
00:40:25.200 --> 00:40:38.400
Tom Baker: I think this was the officer panic. This is a training issue, you know, very, very, very rarely do I look at an incident, say, oh, well, this officer was acting in a malicious way. I mean, it's very, very rare for me to see that.
00:40:38.910 --> 00:40:45.930
Tom Baker: And this particular incident and I was talking to a friend of mine. A couple of days ago. It was as if it was this is if it was designed
00:40:46.440 --> 00:40:54.720
Tom Baker: In Hollywood. I mean, it's just like the perfect storm of horrid to watch this police officer with his knee across his neck.
00:40:55.110 --> 00:41:08.550
Tom Baker: And the casual nature, while people are pleading and he's asking for his mother, and there was no and analyzing it as a person who studies police use it for us. There is absolutely no justification.
00:41:09.570 --> 00:41:24.210
Tom Baker: In that you can put anywhere near it. So it's, it's just such a shock. It was such a shocking experience to watch that that I don't think you're alone. Like, even me. Who's desensitized to them found it. I mean, it was jarring.
00:41:24.630 --> 00:41:34.680
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Right. Oh, it was and that you know. And after that, you know, we felt as an organization convicted to put out a statement and we did, but it was a first start. And I've even asked people
00:41:35.010 --> 00:41:36.840
Brenda Gerber Vincent: In my community to hold us accountable.
00:41:37.260 --> 00:41:45.840
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like I'm still going to be talking about this six months from now, and my biggest fear is that we're going to go back. We're going to go back to normal. Again, because that's what history is repeated over and over and over and
00:41:46.350 --> 00:41:52.410
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Over and over again, and I go back to my Aspen first hour. It's we're not here to make you feel comfortable
00:41:52.950 --> 00:41:53.820
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like what, like
00:41:54.030 --> 00:42:02.670
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I'm not. I'm so far out of my comfort zone. But I'm going to keep pushing forward because I really do feel convicted to make a difference.
00:42:04.050 --> 00:42:08.190
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I really do like it's in my core like I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna let down
00:42:09.120 --> 00:42:16.380
Tom Baker: And so let's let's shift gears a little I've had you on it for quite a while, so I won't keep you too much longer, but I wanted to talk specifically about
00:42:17.070 --> 00:42:31.710
Tom Baker: Leveraging well I don't say leveraging your power, but as a person who has influence in your community and someone who has a voice and has the ear of people who are in positions of power and will be shaping
00:42:32.790 --> 00:42:40.500
Tom Baker: The future of policing in America, whatever that's going to look like. Because we're going to still need to pull. We're gonna need police
00:42:40.590 --> 00:42:42.780
Tom Baker: And advanced industrial era.
00:42:42.810 --> 00:42:43.500
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Yeah, right.
00:42:43.590 --> 00:42:44.130
Tom Baker: Right, so
00:42:44.370 --> 00:42:45.870
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Great police officers out there.
00:42:46.020 --> 00:42:55.020
Tom Baker: Yeah, and and it's just I don't feel as though we're. I mean, when I think about a utopia in the future. I'm a huge Star Trek fan.
00:42:55.320 --> 00:43:03.660
Tom Baker: Okay. Star Trek and I, and if I imagine my utopia. I don't imagine police officers, because everyone's gets along and you know that, but
00:43:04.170 --> 00:43:11.130
Tom Baker: There are going to be there. There are going to be people who are going to need help from the state protect them from violence tonight.
00:43:11.640 --> 00:43:27.660
Tom Baker: And they're going to need to call somebody, and I believe that the government has an obligation to its citizens to protect them if they are in fear of physical danger or having their things taken from them. Like I fundamentally believe that. So we have police
00:43:28.230 --> 00:43:38.610
Tom Baker: Right, you have, you're gonna have, you're not going to dictate what police. It was like, but you as a member of community, you're going to have some sweat and some say what would you like to see
00:43:39.090 --> 00:43:47.070
Tom Baker: Happen and policing and I know you're not an expert policing, but as a citizen. What do you think, like, what would you like to see
00:43:47.640 --> 00:43:48.360
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Change.
00:43:48.660 --> 00:43:55.170
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know, today the mayor just appointed a community task force to do just this. He pointed a member
00:43:56.160 --> 00:44:02.970
Brenda Gerber Vincent: A black female member of our city council to lead the task force. It's a really diverse really wonderful group of leaders that the
00:44:03.330 --> 00:44:08.040
Brenda Gerber Vincent: That the mayor has appointed to to look at just this issue with the policing.
00:44:08.640 --> 00:44:16.950
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I know that body cams have been brought up. You know what that you know I have to, like, I'm not going to duck, your question, but I think it's so much bigger than that.
00:44:17.340 --> 00:44:30.270
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I mean, we can have this discussion in health care and we can have an education. We can have an policing, we can have it in economic development, like it's across the board policing is just one lane.
00:44:31.800 --> 00:44:39.120
Brenda Gerber Vincent: It's at least that's my belief, it's just one lane. There's like six lanes and and. None of them. None of them are good like
00:44:39.540 --> 00:44:50.580
Brenda Gerber Vincent: When I across the board. So we need to look at all of them and policing needs to be in there but healthcare and all of it. All of it needs to be in there. So I'm not ducking your question because I
00:44:50.670 --> 00:44:51.570
Tom Baker: Know what
00:44:51.870 --> 00:44:52.770
Brenda Gerber Vincent: My future
00:44:52.920 --> 00:44:54.300
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I think it's so much bigger than that.
00:44:54.660 --> 00:44:58.290
Tom Baker: Yes, and I think that's the and I think that is the correct answer. I mean, I
00:44:59.070 --> 00:45:10.140
Tom Baker: I, I think that we have a tendency to say, well, we have all of these social problems. Let's send the police to handle it and then it doesn't look the way we want it to look. So we say, well, we need to reform the police.
00:45:10.650 --> 00:45:18.000
Tom Baker: When in actuality, there are complex social problems that needed to be that needs to be addressed through health care, mental health, all these
00:45:18.240 --> 00:45:27.570
Tom Baker: So I do think that that is the answer you gave is the best answer that we need to really pull back and look at these complex social issues and pull every lever that we can
00:45:27.750 --> 00:45:30.930
Tom Baker: Like with your economic development Weaver that you're trying to pull
00:45:31.230 --> 00:45:42.930
Tom Baker: I think that's, that's an important that developing an economy in Fort Wayne area is going to be just as much to prevent police violence as training the police and, in my humble opinion, right.
00:45:43.140 --> 00:45:46.170
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Now that that would be my answer. I had that conversation with my son today.
00:45:47.370 --> 00:45:57.150
Brenda Gerber Vincent: They have, you know, like, like many businesses now maybe two months ago. They didn't. They now have diversity task force within their within their organization.
00:45:57.660 --> 00:46:07.500
Brenda Gerber Vincent: People are saying like, let's form a committee to talk about these things. My son's COMPANY IS TAKING FRIDAY OFF OR TOMORROW TOMORROW. They're there for June for June.
00:46:08.460 --> 00:46:26.310
Brenda Gerber Vincent: To change. I was going to add another syllable to it Juneteenth and, you know, to see the to see like action again put behind the words like I like it just, I don't know why it took so long and I and I again like I prayed it people keep going but
00:46:28.560 --> 00:46:33.540
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know, it's such a big, it's such a complex big issue. And again, like when I go back to Aspen
00:46:35.580 --> 00:46:38.910
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Every single thing. I read every single book I read just lead to more questions.
00:46:39.990 --> 00:46:50.580
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Right. None of them. None of them solve the problem. They all just led me down this path of man. We got to really understand what this last 400 years of look like
00:46:51.480 --> 00:46:53.730
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know, we have to really understand
00:46:54.510 --> 00:47:06.030
Brenda Gerber Vincent: What we've done in our, in our, in our communities. And I think, and I think for white people like we have to really get it and I didn't get it. And, and now I get it.
00:47:06.870 --> 00:47:24.870
Tom Baker: Yeah, there definitely needs to be a major unwinding. And because it's so messy and so deeply ingrained in our society. It's going to, we're going to do it wrong. Like, I'm sure. Like right now, people who are listening to this, I'm sure that we're saying things wrong word.
00:47:25.440 --> 00:47:26.280
Tom Baker: About things wrong.
00:47:26.790 --> 00:47:31.140
Tom Baker: And in six months. People look will be better. Right, right.
00:47:31.440 --> 00:47:32.670
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And I'll be better like
00:47:33.090 --> 00:47:42.480
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I don't like I'm not, I'm not pretending that I'm any expert. I'm not pretending that I know all of it. I'm not even pretending that I have the right language but I what I am what I am committing to
00:47:42.750 --> 00:47:51.120
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Is that I'm going to keep pushing forward. I'm going to keep making mistakes until I get it right. I'm going to keep you know keeping being, you know, I'm going to keep the like I keep saying the pedal on the gas.
00:47:51.630 --> 00:48:04.380
Brenda Gerber Vincent: That we can open up avenues for change. Like that's, you know, if that's what I do. I wrote you an email the rest of the group. You know, I mean, it changed the world. But I'm praying that I change a little bit of my community.
00:48:05.760 --> 00:48:19.380
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And and that's important to me and really important to me. And I think we've been given this amazing opportunity and now we have to keep going. But I'm not going to be quiet about it, even if I say the wrong things right. I'm going to keep talking.
00:48:20.340 --> 00:48:21.060
Tom Baker: And in
00:48:22.290 --> 00:48:32.370
Tom Baker: And it is important that that we just continue to be willing to make ourselves uncomfortable because like you said, a lot of people don't have a choice about feeling comfortable
00:48:32.430 --> 00:48:33.570
Tom Baker: Or uncomfortable about this.
00:48:33.570 --> 00:48:40.320
Tom Baker: Way so we don't. We can't just have that as a luxury for ourselves. Like, I, I know I had an experience recently where
00:48:40.740 --> 00:48:48.480
Tom Baker: I had a fellow graduate student who had been very kind to me as a and, you know, when I was having a rough times they're very kind to me and supportive
00:48:48.810 --> 00:49:04.770
Tom Baker: And I wanted to reach out to them during this with what was happening there person of color as a graduate student and and I suspected that they were feeling about with what was happening that they would be feeling things about it, but I didn't know what
00:49:04.830 --> 00:49:06.480
Tom Baker: Words, I should use
00:49:06.810 --> 00:49:18.150
Tom Baker: To approach them and I didn't. So I just didn't say anything. And then I found out that they had expressed. Well, I saw that them express this feeling of
00:49:19.050 --> 00:49:28.500
Tom Baker: Not being reached out to buy and you know it's that was me doing that, not being brave enough to feel this shouldn't be me being gripped by like
00:49:28.920 --> 00:49:38.340
Tom Baker: Not being considered enough to make myself vulnerable and we can't, we can't do that. So I, I appreciate that. Your, your willingness to make yourself vulnerable in the way you do. Yeah.
00:49:38.460 --> 00:49:53.490
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I am I am just because I feel like we have to like there isn't a choice here. Like, it's not like a choice. It's not like we can go back to the way things were never going back to the way things were, you know, we just we simply there's no there's no other choice here.
00:49:54.480 --> 00:49:57.450
Tom Baker: And I'm going to just, I want to ask you one more question.
00:49:58.260 --> 00:49:59.940
Tom Baker: And then I wanted to leave it on our
00:50:00.120 --> 00:50:06.630
Tom Baker: What we are shared our shared experience and aspen. Can you just talk a little bit about if somebody like I'm going to put in the
00:50:06.930 --> 00:50:17.880
Tom Baker: Key. I'm thinking, this might be something that someone might want to listen to, if they're thinking if they're considering adding up there, can, can you just talk a little bit about what your advice would be, and your thoughts on on making the plunge.
00:50:18.240 --> 00:50:23.520
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Yeah, my, my advice would be to to fill out the application as quickly as you can.
00:50:24.060 --> 00:50:28.470
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Whether you're a liberal or conservative whatever you've heard like whatever the whatever
00:50:28.800 --> 00:50:38.970
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Background you come from whatever color you are whatever sexual orientation. You are whatever you think you think it for a reason and your perspective is needed at the table.
00:50:39.720 --> 00:50:56.310
Brenda Gerber Vincent: And and i would go, it's worth. It's worth their financial commitment, it's worth the travel commitment. If you have to take time off work. I would say to be in those walls to have this opportunity to sit with a group of people and really dialogue about very important things
00:50:56.580 --> 00:51:07.050
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Is a once a lifetime experience and I would tell every I think everybody should have to do you like mandatory that that people enter into this kind of dialogue.
00:51:07.350 --> 00:51:08.430
Brenda Gerber Vincent: With other people
00:51:10.740 --> 00:51:15.600
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I I'm already signed up for the summer. Like, I'm already signed up for summer so
00:51:16.080 --> 00:51:16.740
Tom Baker: I'll see you there.
00:51:18.090 --> 00:51:23.880
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Yeah, so I'm already going back, I want that. I want to keep the conversation going. So I would say for anybody who's contemplating
00:51:24.600 --> 00:51:28.650
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Being involved. I would say jumped at the opportunity. It was life changing for me.
00:51:29.370 --> 00:51:39.240
Tom Baker: Saying, same here, it was, it was really unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. And like the the environment that was created was very
00:51:40.410 --> 00:51:46.500
Tom Baker: It was amazing sitting around a table with, you know, how many were there 11 of US total at the table.
00:51:47.100 --> 00:51:59.100
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know what, I don't even know. Anyway, and it's the Socratic method. That's what it called Socrates. And it's just this you're forced to share ideas and to grow and to push and challenge yourself and you're surrounded by these
00:51:59.430 --> 00:52:10.530
Tom Baker: brilliant people by one piece of advice you were, you were full of energy up there about prepare for the altitude and maybe take some altitude sickness pills, because it took it took the wind out of my sails, a little bit.
00:52:10.890 --> 00:52:21.030
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Today we you know we actually went skiing like on morning like I actually did not have a trouble sleeping, but I think that was also because I was waking up. As you know, in the middle of the night.
00:52:22.170 --> 00:52:27.990
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like I couldn't, I couldn't stop my mind. So I would get up and I literally would have because my husband was with me.
00:52:28.320 --> 00:52:37.980
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But I had my cell phone and I was literally journaling for hours during the night from like three to six in the middle of the night, writing down all my thoughts.
00:52:39.420 --> 00:52:50.070
Tom Baker: I was I was rolling around and praying that I would be able to make it, make it enough energy to get the class the next morning. So sometimes I was worn out, but it still was still was amazing.
00:52:51.150 --> 00:53:01.230
Tom Baker: So before I let you go, I just wanted to turn turn the floor over to you. You like we're our country. I think is sort of an inflection point like
00:53:03.960 --> 00:53:12.300
Tom Baker: We're going to be changes coming down. I don't know what I don't know what's where this is leading but it feels as though this is an important moment in American history.
00:53:12.930 --> 00:53:21.030
Tom Baker: Can you maybe do you have any final thoughts what your hopes are for the country or you know how you're feeling right now maybe
00:53:21.450 --> 00:53:28.650
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Well, I am a true optimist. I mean, I believe that that I am so thankful to be alive right now.
00:53:29.760 --> 00:53:38.670
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I'm so thankful that, you know, to, to be going through these things that we're going through. I mean, I know that people have looked at this, like this has been the worst year it's the best year
00:53:39.210 --> 00:53:55.530
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Like you know we slow down, we, I mean, I mean we I mean I can't, I can't overlook the fact that people by the thousands and thousands and thousands of hundred thousand plus and close to 200,000 people have been affected and so many people have that def tool at 200,000
00:53:57.390 --> 00:54:05.070
Brenda Gerber Vincent: I mean, I can't, I would be remiss if I didn't recognize that suffering and the pain that this is all caused our nation and world.
00:54:06.300 --> 00:54:20.580
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But there's an element to the slowing down to having that reflection period and then with with the leading up to all of the social injustice and the racial conversations
00:54:22.680 --> 00:54:24.240
Brenda Gerber Vincent: It's a pivotal point in our history.
00:54:25.950 --> 00:54:31.980
Brenda Gerber Vincent: It's an election year. I mean, there's so many things that are that are at play, and I believe being an optimist.
00:54:32.400 --> 00:54:48.870
Brenda Gerber Vincent: There are great people in this country. I mean, I think that we have. We have great people I've great people in the community. I have great people in the state. We have great people in this country and I believe it, my core that people want to do what they want to do the right thing.
00:54:49.530 --> 00:54:55.710
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Now is, is everybody doing the right thing. You know, like there's a lot of people doing like really bad things.
00:54:56.430 --> 00:55:03.750
Brenda Gerber Vincent: But I think there's a lot of leaders and a lot of people who want to do the right thing. And now it's just like focusing that energy into what does that look like
00:55:04.050 --> 00:55:13.590
Brenda Gerber Vincent: People are looking for this roadmap and now what do I do so many white leaders say to me, What should I do, what can I do, what should I say like they're looking for someone to give them answers.
00:55:14.640 --> 00:55:20.100
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Which I find curious because we've been talking about this for a long time, right, and myself included.
00:55:20.670 --> 00:55:25.110
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know you wake up the next day and you're like, what am I going to do like What's my role. What's my lane.
00:55:26.070 --> 00:55:37.290
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know, I don't know, like I i don't i'm really optimistic that our that our country is going to pull together the that maybe, maybe not even maybe because we don't have a choice like
00:55:37.560 --> 00:55:42.390
Tom Baker: A choice that we, that we have to we have to continue moving forward. I believe in the people I believe in.
00:55:42.780 --> 00:55:57.780
Brenda Gerber Vincent: That people. People want good things. I really do. And there's a lot of bad, you know, like I said, a lot of bad things happening but but I don't know. I still believe that we, as a country, we live in a great country and we have great people and that we need to do better, a lot better.
00:55:58.170 --> 00:56:11.400
Tom Baker: And and struggle as part of improving a society. And when we look back. I think when we look back on history. A lot of times we we we do it with nostalgia me think of the progress that was made and we forget that.
00:56:12.660 --> 00:56:23.490
Tom Baker: That comes with the at the cost of blood, sweat and tears, and this is this is what we're going through now and it's a period of growth and it's very difficult, but I do appreciate your, your optimism.
00:56:24.090 --> 00:56:35.730
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Hey, I do, I do. I feel a renewed sense of energy in the country that I mean we have protest, every night and I couldn't be more proud of the people who are getting up and going out and like
00:56:36.720 --> 00:56:40.890
Brenda Gerber Vincent: You know their resolve is is is high. There's young people who
00:56:41.700 --> 00:56:51.450
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Who I you know who are standing for something. And I've always said I don't care if you believe, like, I believe, but I want you to stand for something like I'm not, I'm not like all about the fence sitters.
00:56:51.900 --> 00:56:59.730
Brenda Gerber Vincent: So I see people who maybe were on the sidelines, who are now jumping in and saying, you know what I'm going to be a part of this, and we need we need it takes everybody
00:57:01.980 --> 00:57:14.130
Tom Baker: Democracy is getting people involved hearing their voices coming to an agreement. It's very, very messy, but the the thing that I find most encouraging is that
00:57:14.820 --> 00:57:28.350
Tom Baker: I can go to. I see all of the social strife. But then I also looked to organizations like the Pat Tillman Foundation, which I'm a part of which is who sent me to Aspen and then I go to a place like Aspen and I sit at a table and I meet people like you.
00:57:28.560 --> 00:57:45.150
Tom Baker: And I meet the other people around the table, who come with all of these very, you know, very different perspectives on on the world, but they can agree on these fundamental things and that's what we need to do as a community if we want to move move forward. Right. I think
00:57:45.420 --> 00:57:46.290
Tom Baker: No, absolutely.
00:57:46.560 --> 00:57:49.320
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Thank you for starting US national. Oh. Oh.
00:57:50.130 --> 00:57:53.040
Tom Baker: Well, we'll see. I see how many people, how many people tuned in, but I
00:57:53.040 --> 00:57:54.060
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Didn't matter I
00:57:54.690 --> 00:58:00.120
Brenda Gerber Vincent: Know I have so enjoyed we I don't even care to do anything with it. I have so enjoyed just talking to you, Tom.
00:58:00.570 --> 00:58:09.000
Tom Baker: Thank you. I've enjoyed talking to you as well. And when maybe a few months down the road. Can we touch base again and do this again and see where we're at, as a society, and
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Absolutely. I can tell you where all of our initiatives are we're hope that we'll have them rolled out by then.
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Brenda Gerber Vincent: Hopefully we'll have some, some will have some real tangible results will have, you know, I'll be able to share how we're moving our community forward, how we can use our community as an example for other communities, hoping to do the same thing. So would love to do that.
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Tom Baker: And hopefully this isn't corny, but I look forward to seeing you at Aspen and anybody's listening. I hope to see you as well. All right.
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Tom Baker: Great, thank you.
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