Leadership - 10.10.2019

Leading from the Front in Your Community

My Journey to Finding Metropolitan Family Services

Tony Hunter Author: Tony Hunter

Leading from the front is not reserved for just your family and your profession. You need to also lead your community. 

Leading from the front is a mantra I refer to often…leading from the front of your employees, company, customers, community and family. During challenging times, the last thing you want to do is be out in front…but to be a great leader, that’s when it counts most. 

There’s no better time to step up than when people in your community and in your family are in need. I’ve been blessed to find an organization that helps the community by focusing on families in need. The journey to find Metropolitan Family Services (MFS) has been a long, winding road.

As I look back on the pivotal moments in my journey to MFS,  there’s one that sticks out like a sore thumb. I was in my final interview with my future boss, Vince Casanova, and he was reviewing the terms of my employment.

After informing me of my salary and bonus, he paused and said; “and you will be donating 2% of your salary to the United Way.” Before I could ask any questions he quickly said, “it is an expectation of our leaders at Chicago Tribune.”  

Why? Because it makes good business sense. Great companies recognize the importance of creating better communities and to assist those in need of basic services. Couple that with the moral responsibilities of people who are blessed with talent and treasure, and you see why those of us in leadership positions must be leading from the front.

After several years of passively supporting the United Way through monetary donations, I decided to get more involved and I joined my first board; the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. My time on the board helped me understand the importance of a father’s involvement in his children’s lives. That experience led me to look for a larger, more impactful social service agency. My family means the world to me and I wanted to help other families…enter MFS.

I’ve been a board member at MFS for nearly a decade. During that time I’ve witnessed the tremendous impact our programs have on families. We serve over 93,100 people and provide umbrella services ranging from early childhood, to employment, parenting, legal aid, and mental health to name a few. 

My involvement with MFS has allowed me to have an impact on my community. The organization is very near and dear to me and my family; I feel honored to be a part of their mission. I hope to inspire the next generation of leaders to step up and step in to make a considerable impact in the community, as MFS has for the past 163 years.

So as you think about how to lead from the front, make sure the community is part of your plan.

Oh, and to bring it back full circle; twenty five years later, I’m still supporting United Way.