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Neighborhood Centers CEO Named to Fast Company’s Generation Flux

HOUSTON – October 19, 2012 – Innovative leadership has Neighborhood Centers riding with Fast Company.

In its November issue, Fast Company, one of the world’s leading progressive business media brands and magazines focusing on innovation in technology and leadership among others, includes Angela Blanchard, the President and CEO of Houston-based Neighborhood Centers Inc., in a major cover story on global business leaders who are managing the “chaos” of today’s business environment with energy and panache.

Fast Company editor Robert Safian first coined the phrase “Generation Flux” to describe these champions of resourcefulness, flexibility and adaptability in a February feature story. In a forward-thinking follow-up now published online and in the November issue, “Secrets of the Flux Leader,” Safian wanted to show “how the characteristics that breed success for individuals in an era of constant change can also aid corporations and not for profits,” and he puts Neighborhood Centers’ Blanchard alongside such powerhouse brand names as Nike’s Mark Parker and Cisco System’s Padmasree Warrior. The hot list also features leaders from Foursquare and Intuit, a retired four-star Army general and Lady Gaga’s business manager.

Defining Leadership Through the Scope of Generation Flux
“You must move through this chaotic, fast-changing world with an eye for an opportunity – focusing on what works and what is strong, using what’s available to build something better, faster more effective,” said Blanchard. “It is not about choosing to be either flexible or predictable; it’s about being flexible and predictable at the same time.”

Blanchard believes that it’s paramount to create and nurture an evolving and responsive organization. She is not surprised that Neighborhood Centers would be included and credits the agency’s 1,200 employees for being responsible for an amazing story of growth and evolution.

“Built upon the strengths and aspirations of our region’s hardest working neighbors, Neighborhood Centers continues to grow as Houston grows and change as new issues emerge,” Blanchard added. “Many leaders feel locked into a command and control structure. The most pivotal decisions, the most impactful innovations in community development cannot be executed in a command and control environment. Like any living system what’s required is the capacity to respond – to learn and evolve, constantly moving resources out of what’s dying, into what’s working.

Leaders have to understand how to live at the edge of certainty and complete chaos. At that edge, what strengthens our resolve is a set of deeply held beliefs about people and the world we live in. We have to hold tight to what we believe and be completely open to how we do our work. The “how” changes constantly as learning occurs, as new information comes to us, as experimentation pays off. What doesn’t change is the “why” of our work. That’s the North Star.

When we are conscious about our beliefs we can be clear about how tightly we will hold on to them. I believe every single human being is driven by two hungers; the hunger for connection, and the hunger to realize potential. These are not beliefs I am willing to abandon – even in the face of stories to the contrary. I am committed to action, committed to leading as if what I believe is true,” Blanchard said.

To learn more about Blanchard’s work with Neighborhood Centers and the rest of Generation Flux, read this month’s issue of Fast Company (LINK) or follow #GenFlux on Twitter.

Neighborhood Centers Garnering National Attention
This isn’t the first time Neighborhood Centers’ powerful philosophies and work have been recognized. In August, the agency was invited to speak at the White House Forum on Urban Innovation, and last spring Bruce Katz, a Brookings Institution vice president and founding Director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, heralded the nonprofit as a national model for all agencies, creating a region that is more collaborative and cohesive in action and more globally fluent and connected. Moreover, the Board of Advisors for the Metropolitan Policy Program (known as Metropolitan Leadership Council) invited Blanchard to serve as a key respondent for an upcoming November program in Washington, D.C. entitled “How can Cities and Metros Problem Solve in a Time of Fiscal Constraint.”