Connectors & Keepers FAQ 

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What is a Connector?

Malcolm Gladwell coined the term “Connector” to describe the people who seem to know everyone and who get things done behind the scenes. They are the glue that binds their organizations and/or the community.

What is the goal of this project?

  • Recognize, teach, and inspire good leadership in Greater Philadelphia.
  • Identify, engage, and retain the region’s young talent – the “keepers.”
  • Continue to celebrate and convene the kind of leader who seems to know everyone,
    gets things done (often “beneath the radar”), and serves the common good.

Why focus on young leaders?

According to a recent Pew study, “Since 2006, no city has experienced a larger increase in 20- to 34-year-olds than Philadelphia.” However, the Pew Study, as well as a recent Knight study, note that while the current number of young people in Philadelphia is unprecedented, they are unlikely to remain in the city long-term. LEADERSHIP Philadelphia has a track record of retaining the region’s talent. Young people bring vibrancy, innovation, and energy to our city. In order to keep them here, we need to cultivate them and help them to create lasting ties. To that end, we are asking citizens for help in identifying Philadelphia’s most promising and impactful young people – the “keepers.” We’ll take it from there.

Who is leading this effort?

LEADERSHIP Philadelphia (LP), a 55-year-old non-profit, non-partisan organization that mobilizes, connects, and inspires professionals to serve the community. LP began this project, which puts the ideas of Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point into action, to broaden the city’s definition of leadership to include Connectors.

What is the history of the project?

LEADERSHIP Philadelphia (LP) created The Connector Project in 2005. This project identified the top 101 Connectors and studied them so that LP could teach others to connect. In 2008, they recognized the region’s emerging Connectors. In 2011, they found the Creative Connectors from the arts community. Each time, LP recognized and convened the Connectors to spotlight this collaborative form of leadership.

How are these names used?

With their permission, the most frequently named Connectors are studied to determine how they lead. They are invited to events where they meet other Connectors. Their stories are covered by the media. Connectors have been invited to join non-profit boards and are convened to share their thoughts as opinion leaders.

Where can I learn more?