Liz Dow, author and CEO of LEADERSHIP Philadelphia, joins the program to discuss her vision for the organization and the qualities that the best leaders possess. She reveals some of her most formative experiences, and shares a poignant story about her father’s one-of-a-kind interaction with the actor Hugh Jackman.

“What I have learned over the years is that the best leaders, the kind of leaders other people want to follow, are able to see the humanity in others and embrace diversity. When you bring those kinds of leaders together, they energize and trust each other, and the work gets done faster.”

– Liz Dow, author, CEO of LEADERSHIP Philadelphia

Episode Transcription

Intro: Welcome to Hidden Human, the podcast where we explore the stories behind the business leader. Get ready to hear insights from business leaders, speaking candidly about how they became who they are today and the lessons they learned along the way. And now, here’s your host leadership coach and speaker Kelly Meerbott.

Kelly Meerbott: Welcome to the space where we reveal our personal humanity, to reconnect with our shared humanity. This is a very special podcast to me because I am introducing somebody who is a personal hero of mine, Liz Dow, the CEO of Leadership Philadelphia. Welcome Liz, and thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to talk to us.

Liz Dow: Thank you.

Kelly Meerbott: So, okay. Tell me what leadership Philadelphia is in a way I can understand. So if I was a six year old child listening to this podcast, how would you explain to me what it is that you do?

Liz Dow: What I used to say to my kids when they were little, is that I help executives find a conscience. That’s kind of the bottom line. But it is a nonprofit organization that’s 60 years old, and its mission is to mobilize and connect the professionals of Philadelphia to serve the community.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh my God. I mean the way you said that about how executives, helping them have a conscience. It just put goosebumps all over my body because that’s exactly what it does. I mean I’m in the program right now. I’m a member of the core class of 2019, and that’s exactly what Leadership Philadelphia does. So what was it in your soul that drew you to this work list?

Liz Dow: I think it evolved. But I started out, I went to Wharton and so I ended up in the corporate world for 10 years, and I guess my soul was trying to show itself because the job before this one felt soulless to me. I was a senior VP in a publicly traded bank. The work was challenging, but it was a credit card bank and I had two little children and I was traveling all the time, and working all the time, and worrying about the work all the time. I think my soul just sort of popped up and said, “Are you kidding me? This doesn’t mean anything.”

I was about 40, and I started longing to do something that was meaningful. And so, I got a call that Leadership Philadelphia was going under, because I was an alum. The recruiter said they’re looking for a someone who knows finance and leadership who could turn it around. Because it was not going to be a going concern, it was just about bankrupt. They were looking for a referral, and I was like in Austin, Texas, doing some work for the bank.

The more I thought about it, I thought, “That’s the job I want. That’s the job where I can actually do something that means. I can pull together all of my credentials and put them to play. All the favors I’ve done in Philadelphia, and use my favorite bank. And I can have a little bit more of a balanced life, where I’m not traveling all the time and away from my kids. So, I mean my soul just sort of popped up and said, “Pay attention to me.”

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. I mean it’s so clear how much love and intention, not only you but the entire team, from Carla to Jackie at Leadership Philadelphia, you pour your souls into this program. What keeps you going every day to do this? Because there is a lot of work involved.

Liz Dow: Thank you for noticing there’s a lot of work. Thank you. Well, what keeps us going, is that it’s a calling for everybody that works. Carla and I will sometimes say we’re doing God’s work. I am not a religious person, but you can’t help but see it. Sometimes when the day is really magnificent, or an exercise is magnificent, I say in my head, “God is in this room.”

I think what keeps me going, is the watching the aha moment of people in the classroom. Because these are corporate executives, who have absolutely no time for themselves. They are working their tail off at work, and they’re trying to be a good parent, and most of them trying to be a good spouse and they have no time for themselves. So I feel so grateful that I can help them breathe for a minute and find some time for themselves. Because if they can energize themselves, then they’re a better leader.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, and I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed it in the past almost year. It’s very different from the other leadership programs that I’ve been through, which you know. I knew that going in, just based on the leadership you have. It’s comforting as a female entrepreneur who runs her own business, to work with an organization that is solely female staffed. Was that an intention of yours, as you went in? How did the people that are currently with you come to you, how did that happen?

Liz Dow: It wasn’t an intention when I came in. But honestly what happened was, we do 26 events a year. So it’s like putting on a wedding every other week. I have to have people that are driven, and they’re going to do the work and the work can be menial sometimes. I just over the years have realized, and this is going to sound politically incorrect, but we’re always the host and never the guests, that women are going to be out there as a host and do the menial work. So, it just sort of evolved that way.

But finding these women, we all have corporate backgrounds. This organization is a nonprofit by its tax status, but we all have strong backgrounds. Carla was the assistant to the president at a bank, I’m come out of banking, Angela was at Arthur Anderson, Jackie’s a lawyer. Sometimes people in the nonprofit world, they’re strictly because it’s mission driven and they’ve always been mission driven. So, they haven’t been tested in a corporation the way we’ve all been tested. We’re just all driven, and we’re corporate types that happen to be doing nonprofit work.

Kelly Meerbott: I have to say, just from my experience of all of you strong, powerful women, I used to do events for corporate radio, so I know what you’re talking about with putting on a wedding every other week. What amazes me is that no matter what’s going on in your lives, you are all pleasant, all of you. Which is, that’s really speaks to all of your character, because it’s a lot. You’re managing 120 executives, plus the space, plus… I could keep going of all the aspects of the events.

There has to be some kind of thing that you look for when you’re hiring in character. Obviously you all have corporate backgrounds, but is there something that you look for, something that “it” thing.

Liz Dow: I’d say other than, I mean they have to have a killer work ethic and be good at their jobs, is that they have to be other focused. So again, I used the terms host and guests. I’ve had to fire people, because they think at these events they’re the guests and not the host. Their character is, they’re all service oriented.

We choreograph the class. We actually go over every minute of the class or any event we do about six times before we do it, so we know every eventuality that could happen. So, that’s the infrastructure behind it. But the people themselves are very other-oriented. I tell them, I mean we set the tone. What matters in the class is the experience of the client. So, that’s all we’re going to think about.

Is it too hot in the room? Are they happy? Read the room and see if some comment didn’t go over well. Or if somebody is out of sorts, or if somebody is a mess we’re going to go deal with them and help them. I’d say that in terms of their character, their service oriented and they are other-oriented. They’re not thinking about their own needs or what they’re going to do this weekend. They’re fully present in the room, focused on the client.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, and you all set the tone with that. Which I love that, where you say, “Put your personal problems aside and get your head in the game, and be present,” or, “Be where your feet are.” And that to me, it’s a powerful thing, especially with the audience that you’re serving. Like you just said, very powerful executives that are used to… I like to call your phone an electronic leash. They’re always attached to their… You know what I mean?

Liz Dow: Yeah.

Kelly Meerbott: It’s like being pulled. I know one of the things that you said in a recent talk was, “Look up. Put your phone down, look up and connect with each other.” To me, that so deeply, because it’s all about that human connection. Did that always have a place in Leadership Philadelphia, or was it something that just evolved over time?

Liz Dow: It evolved. But it evolved, it’s like I might be the teacher in that class, but I’m also learning while I’m teaching. So it’s all about, I’m always watching what’s going on in the room. As I watched, I noticed early on that people were coming into that room completely spent. I realized they need nurturing in that room. And it’s part of why we made the curriculum loving, and the behavior.

Sometimes when I’m using these words, I think, “If somebody’s listening to me they might think this is lightweight.” I come out of Wharton, top of the class, I worked at the White House, I was a senior VP at a publicly traded company. This may look like soft stuff but it’s actually based on hard data, and it’s what makes a leader the kind of leader people want to follow.

Kelly Meerbott: That’s what I talk to people about all the time. Because when I’m interviewing a perspective client, it’s, “Oh Kelly, this sounds like soft skills.” And usually my response is, “Well it’s really crucial skills. It’s crucial human skills.” And I think that that’s really just infused in the curriculum, and carried out and embodied by each of you. And just spills over to us, as the people who are attending in class.

Liz Dow: Thank you. Yeah, and that is very intentional. What I have learned over the years is that what a really the best leaders have, the kind of leaders people want to follow, is they see the humanity in others. That plays out in embracing diversity, you just want to see who’s in there and relate to who’s in there. Then you energize each other, and you want to work together, and you trust each other and the work gets done faster.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, I saw that happen in [inaudible 00:10:42], when we went and did our project at River Bridge Environmental Center. It was all of us out there digging a ditch together, and none of us had thrown a pickaxe before. But we were just picking it up and going, and it was really a beautiful experience. So, thank you for that. I’m curious, how young were you in your life… and I’m looking between the ages of eight and 14, where you started to connect people? Because you’re really beautiful at that, and very intentional.

Liz Dow: I think at that phase, that young, I was probably just being nice. I mean I grew up in Minneapolis, and so the culture in the Midwest is, you better be nice. It’s a thing if you’re not nice. So, it’s kind of the currency out there. But I would say it started, just by being reinforced for being nice all the time. And then it’s also, I had the most extraordinary father. Everybody loved my dad, he was so respectful of everyone and he always asked everyone their story.

It would drive my mother crazy, but we’d go to the restaurant and he wanted to know the whole story of the waitstaff. Or out at the airport, he’ll start talking to the person at the front desk if they’re not busy. He would say to us, “Everybody has a story.” Again, you’ve got your phrase about stories. “That’s the door into their humanity.” So I was raised by a man that was a greatest generation person. Respectful of everybody, respectful of differences and curious about everybody’s story. I think if you ask me about that phase in my life, it’s because my dad acted like that, and he was teaching me how to do it.

Kelly Meerbott: So what did Dad do? Because I know you have great affection for your dad. I really want you to tell the story of Hugh Jackman, but we’ll get there. What did he do for a living?

Liz Dow: He was in sales and marketing at Deluxe Check Printers for 37 years. That was his day job. He was actually trained as an artist back then. Back then, he started at Deluxe as a secretary, because when he started there, right after the war, men were secretaries. So he was the secretary to the president, so he got the overview there. But that’s what he did for a living.

What he did for a life, is he just made everyone around him happy. He was completely committed to… he thought that that’s what his job was, to make everyone happy. And I’ll tell you, it wasn’t easy to make my mom happy, so he had a heavy lift at home. But he stopped working when he was 80, which I think is extraordinary.

He was starting to lose all of his friends. So when he would go out to lunch, and he’d go anywhere from Arby’s to a really high end restaurant, and just look to see if there’s anybody sitting there alone who might want to sit with someone. He’d walk up to them and asked if he could sit with them, and his goal was to cheer them up. he was just extraordinary.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh my gosh. That’s so moving. I’ll tell you, as his daughter, you can see those traits playing out. How do you leverage what you learned from Dad with what you do today at Leadership Philadelphia?

Liz Dow: I think it’s a huge echo of that. It’s also, my dad’s favorite movie was It’s A Wonderful Life, and we would watch that together every year.

Kelly Meerbott: I love that.

Liz Dow: Isn’t’ it the best? [crosstalk 00:14:07].

Kelly Meerbott: It’s the best movie ever.

Liz Dow: Yeah. Well it shows you that every person matters, and that the things that really matter in life are the things that other people don’t see. Maybe you’re going to see it when someone gives your eulogy. So I’m sort of living that out because I learned that from him. When you’re being a leader in a community, you’ve got a, you have to make a decision of how public you want to be, how out there or whatever.

I’ve made a conscious decision, most of my really powerful stuff is done invisibly. I’m doing that intentionally, because you’re less likely to get shot for doing it. And, I can get a whole lot more done if I don’t need the credit for it. So I’m doing a lot of work behind the scenes with people, helping them to be successful. That no one knows about.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. Yeah. I think the human experience is, at least for me, we learn in contrast. I know from you and from brief discussions, that your mom was a sharp contrast to your dad. Can you just share a little bit about what you learned from her?

Liz Dow: Yeah. I think it’s important for a leader to be open and honest. I guess, honestly what I learned from her was how not to behave. Because she was very self-centered and everything was about her in the house. So, you didn’t count to her. Now, thank God I had the dad I had, because I absolutely counted to him. But she was the one that was home most of the time.

I think now that I am older, it took me a long time to unwrap this, but I think because my mother was not respectful, she was not loving, she didn’t really care to listen to your story, I think I went the opposite way. I’m so attentive to other people’s stories. I’m so curious, and I’m so respectful. I saw my dad doing that behavior, and I saw the opposite with my mother.

My sister actually sent me a book on this about five years ago, because she had the same experience that I did. It was about how you know your best teacher can be the person that shows you what you don’t want. So, growing up in a house with her, where I experienced no compassion, I learned to be incredibly compassionate. So, I thank her for that. I would say it wasn’t fun. But I really thank her for that, because I would never have as many skills around those issues had I not learned from her.

Kelly Meerbott: This is Kelly. Thanks so much for listening to Hidden Human. We love having you as part of our audience. As a thank you gift from us to you, click to to download our free white paper, 7 Insights on Leadership from 20 Years of Coaching Executives. That’s K-E-L-L-Y M-E-E-R-B-O-T-T dot com, forward slash downloadables. Thank you so much for being part of the Hidden Human family, and make it a great day.

I can’t agree with you more. Because in our household, it was the opposite. My dad was very much about himself, whereas my mom always about being kind to everybody, no matter their station in life. She raised us by the mantra, “To those who are given much, much is expected.” It’s always important to give back. Like you said, it’s just recent I’ve been able to say thank you to my dad for that experience, because it showed me the contrast of how not to be. And I think those are powerful influences in our lives.

Speaking of your siblings, I had the good fortune of briefly meeting your brother, and you’ve touched on your sister. Do you have any more siblings besides the two you’ve mentioned?

Liz Dow: [crosstalk 00:18:18] three of us.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay.

Liz Dow: It’s just the three of us, and I’m the middle child.

Kelly Meerbott: If we had both your sister and brother in the room right now, what would they say about Liz as a child?

Liz Dow: I think my sister would just say I was nice and easy, and George would probably say the same. I think it would just be nice. That was probably the most noticeable thing about me as a child.

Kelly Meerbott: And it still holds true today. Since we’ve got George in our orbit now, would you mind sharing the story that you and George shared at Dave and Buster’s about your father and Hugh Jackman.

Liz Dow: Wow. Okay. And it’s not too long. You- [crosstalk 00:18:58]

Kelly Meerbott: No. No, no, no. We’ve got got time.

Liz Dow: My father’s father ran the Shubert Theater in St. Paul, which is now the Fitzgerald, where Prairie Home Companion was done. But it was a Schubert Theater, those are the big theaters in most cities. And so, my father, when he was a little boy, went to the theater every day. Back then a lot of Americans went to the theater every day, and that was kind of his babysitter. He was just enchanted by movies and plays and musical. So, it was like the big passion of his life was musical comedy.

So we grew up loving that. And when he was 79, I happened to go to Broadway to see Hugh Jackman in the play, The Boy from Oz. I was watching it, I had front row tickets, and I’m watching it and I start to cry because my dad has congestive heart failure, he’s not flying anymore. And I think, “This is exactly the kind of big musical that my dad loves. I would give anything to have him come see this, but he can’t.” So I get out of the theater and get into my car, and I think, “I’m inviting my dad to come out and see this. I don’t care that he cannot fly anymore. I’m just bringing him out.”

So I called him when I got home, and I said, “Dad, this is just so you’re kind of play, and I want you to come. I’m going to fly you out, and just bring your nitroglycerin. Will you come?” And my dad said, “Of course.” And then, my mother of course was mad at me for the next couple of months. I’m sorry, he was 85, I brought him out there for his 86th birthday to come to this play.

The week before he flew out, I checked to make sure he was still healthy enough to come and he says, “Yes.” So I decided that I was going to contact Hugh Jackman, and tell him that my 86 year old dad was coming to coming to celebrate his birthday. And that he was raised in the theater, and that he went to Broadway during the war. This is just his kind of play. It’s going to be the last play he ever sees on Broadway. And Hugh chit-chats with people at the beginning of the show. I said, “Would you just say happy birthday to my dad?”

So I FedExed it on a wing and a prayer, hoping that somebody would open it for security reasons, and crossed my fingers. Then Dad flies out, and we drive up to New York and I don’t tell him because I don’t know if anything’s going to happen. But we go in, sit down in our front row seats. The curtain goes up and Hugh starts his banter, and he walks over to my dad and says, “Is it your birthday?” And my dad says, “Yes it is.” And he said, “May I ask how old you are?” And Dad said, “You can ask.”

And so, there’s just a really funny banter going back and forth. Hugh talked to him for a while, and then he winks at him and goes back to their regular part of the play. Then Dad is grilled, because the star talked to him and I’m thrilled. So, I think that’s going to be it, and that’s the coolest thing ever. But the intermission comes, and right after intermission, he has sort of a cocktail club scene, he’s playing the piano.

He walks over to Dad and he says, “Are you a dancer, George?” And Dad says, “Of course.” And he says, “All right, come on up.” So my dad walks across the aisle, and he gets up to the back of the theater, and he said it was pitch black and all he could see was a little circle of light. He said he thought maybe he had died and he was going to heaven, so he just walked toward the light.

He gets out on stage, and Hugh hands him the microphone. He said, “Would you like to sing?” And my dad said, “Of course.” So, Dad turns around to the band and said, “Do you boys know Easy To Love, and they did. So, Dad sang Easy To Love, and he remembered every word, every note, and he sang it beautifully looking at me and my mom. So, Hugh was thrilled with that. And so Hugh said, “Are you a dancer?” And Dad said, “Of course.” So he pulled one of the dancers, and had the dancer and Dad dance for five minutes. My dad danced like Fred Astaire, it was just unbelievable and the audience was loving it.

It was kind of a wild play. So then, he had Dad Stand up and do kind of this dirty bumps and grinds dance with him, which was adorable. Then he grabbed Dad’s hand and pulled it up, like in the winning fighter pose. And he turns to the stage manager and says, “Turn the house lights up. I want George to get the full effect of a standing ovation on Broadway.” So, there was an incredible standing ovation.

For the rest of the show, Hugh kept leaving Dad into the storyline, I think just because he was very present and he was just making it fun. At the very end he’s wearing a white towel around his neck. So he throws the towel to George and says, “This one’s for you, George.” The curtain went down, and Dad got mobbed for autographs because everybody thought he was in the play. They didn’t know, they thought he was a plant in the audience.

Then we walked out onto the street, and Hugh’s assistant comes and grabs us so that we can meet his wife and his son Oscar, because he wants to have his wife meet George because George is so energetic. Then we walked down the street afterwards, and people would roll down their window and say, “There’s George.” We get in the car to go back to Philadelphia, and we’re just stunned. What just happened here? And honestly, Dad said it was the best day of his life. It was the best day of my life, too. Hugh Jackman is extraordinary.

Kelly Meerbott: Well, so are you for making that happen and taking that leap of faith. It wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t done that. That’s why I love that story, because it’s such synergy. Like you said, I’m not a religious person, but I certainly believe there’s something bigger than us.

Liz Dow: Well, I will tell you one of the things that I have learned from that, and that is just one of many things like that I’ve done. I went to a development program once, and you had to figure out what is something that’s kind of unique about you that nobody knows about. And what I realized is, there had been several occasions on which I reach out to someone to whom I have no business reaching out, and I ask for something ridiculous on behalf of someone else, and then I get a yes. That’s exactly what happened there.

In terms of one of the leadership things that we try to teach, is to step up and ask, insinuate yourself into something. So that’s a competency that showed up. Also, Hugh Jackman was fully present. He’s doing that play. I think he did it like 380 times, and he was fully present to see that Dad was funny, and to see that Dad could handle doing all that singing and dancing. I give him incredible props for being so fully present on the stage, so open to what’s possible.

Kelly Meerbott: We’ll have to send this podcast to him, and make sure that he listens. Because it’s true, it’s really about noticing. I think that we’re so busy and there’s so much noise in our lives, that there are so many moments that we miss because we’re not noticing and we’re not present.

Liz Dow: I would say that that is such an important word. And I can’t remember if you were at the alumni event. But I did a masterclass on caring, and the punchline was, “In 25 years of doing this work, the single, most important thing I’ve learned, is that everyone waits to be noticed.” It’s so important for you to notice the other person, because that brings them alive, it encourages them, it comforts them and empowers them. I think noticing is a huge leadership competency.

Kelly Meerbott: It really is. It’s just so interesting how time is evolving. I don’t know if you saw the world economic forums skillset that they’re predicting that people will need in 2025, and it’s everything we’re talking about. It’s empathy, it’s being able to be present. It’s leaders that demonstrate caring, that really set themselves apart. Like you said, these are not soft skills. These are crucial skills, that need to be formulated in the workplace and exercised.

Liz Dow: Right.

Kelly Meerbott: So Liz, for your great-great-great-grandchildren that may be listening to this podcast years from now, what wisdom do you have to impart for them?

Liz Dow: Be present, pay attention. It’s not about you, it’s about the other people. Do what makes you happy, act on your passion.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, that’s a great one. Is there anything in your life that if you could go back and change it, you would do that?

Liz Dow: I have thought about this question before. I guess this is an indirect answer, but it’s a little bit of a mystery to me. I am divorced. I was in love with my husband for a long time, and we have two wonderful children together, so I wouldn’t change that. But what I would change is, I would love to know what does it feel like to be in an incredible marriage? Because I do not know what that feels like.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh, wow. Well, there’s still time. There’s definitely still time. All right, I’m going to end the interview with four rapid fire questions, and you’ll know the answer to all of them. Then at the end, Liz, would you mind sharing how people can get in touch with you and the amazing team at Leadership Philadelphia?

Liz Dow: Sure.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay. So first question. What’s your favorite comfort food?

Liz Dow: Popcorn. I’m just a popcorn addict.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh, my gosh. Is there a certain seasoning that you like on your popcorn?

Liz Dow: Oh, that’s such a cool question. I put Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on the popcorn. Oh, and I put almonds sliver on them then.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh, I’ve never heard of that. That’s a great idea.

Liz Dow: Yeah, well, many times it serves for my dinner. So you’ve got to throw some protein in there.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh my gosh. Well, we’re going to have to rectify that. And my husband’s a chef, you know that. We’re going to have to change that up a little bit. What music is on your playlist right now?

Liz Dow: Well, there’s exercise music and other music. I guess my two go-to songs. Leslie Odom Jr. was here, the guy who within Hamilton, and he sang a song called Sarah, that I had never heard before. I just started to cry, because it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. It was a message of a civil war soldier. Apparently they kept a pen and pencil in their chest pocket in case they were killed, so that someone could take that and send this love letter to their loved one. And so, this was one of those love letters.

I was crying when I heard it, and I was trying to think, “This is beautiful, but why am I crying?” And on the way home I thought, “Oh, it’s a little link from my dad.” It’s the lyric of what my dad would say. That, and then I loved the film Seabiscuit, so I listen to the Seabiscuit soundtrack.

Kelly Meerbott: I love that movie. I love that movie.

Liz Dow: It’s the best.

Kelly Meerbott: You’re one of the few people that loves it. My sister complains about it, because she thinks it’s too long. I love it. And I love the moments when Diane Lane looks at the horse, and that connection is just… ugh, I love that movie. Okay, so what books are on your nightstand?

Liz Dow: Well, there’s always a ton of them. But one is called Overstory, which oddly enough, just won the Pulitzer prize last week. I am a nature freak. I have a cottage out in the woods, and I love trees. Parts of the stories are the trees watching you. Not just your experience of the trees, but what is the experience of a tree, planted next to a house with a family who lived there for generations? It’s also about saving trees. So that’s one.

Then the one I just bought, which I realize there’s a theme here, is plant intelligence. And I bought that because we’ve, my sister-in-law has been doing a lot of ancestry searching. So, we have all this royalty in our background. I thought, “Did any of that stay in my DNA?” I’m just perplexed by that, and I have a very romantic nature, so I hope so, the answer to that.

So I Googled, “What’s on your DNA besides the physical?” And it came up with plant intelligence. So, I’ve got this book and it’s things going on in plants that are not physical. Even in that Overstory, that other book, it talks the way trees are a community. They care for one another. If a tree is unhealthy, the other trees will send nutrients through their roots in the ground, so there’s some mystery. And my whole punch line in life is, “We are all connected,” and those trees are all connected as well.

Kelly Meerbott: 100%. I mean we’re all part of the creative force, that created what we’re living in right now. I love that you have a passion for trees, because I actually do too. And every year since, I think probably when I turned about 35, I started buying my mom really socially responsible gifts for different holidays. I bought an acre of trees, to replant trees in the Amazon.

Liz Dow: How nice.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. I think it’s important to give back, and I thought that that would be really nice to honor her and her name. I just have a thing about, like you said, plants. I’m not great at it, but I do respect them and love nature. That’s nice that to know we have that in common. What are you most grateful for in this moment right now?

Liz Dow: It’s two pronged. One is, I’m a person who gets to do the work that they love and it has meaning. The other one is, I have two awesome kids and they are becoming self-actualized. They’re both really confident, and they married wonderful people. They’re doing the work that they love to do. So it’s those two things.

Kelly Meerbott: That’s wonderful. Okay. If somebody wants to have the incredible 12 month experience of being part of Leadership Philadelphia, how do they find out information about that?

Liz Dow: The website is you can email us at

Kelly Meerbott: And you’re taking applicants for the 2020-21 class, correct?

Liz Dow: Yes. Yes, we’re taking them now. So we’ll interview people in the summer.

Kelly Meerbott: Yes. And it’s not one of those things that you want to pass up. If you live in Philadelphia, this is a must-do class. It just is. There’s no arguing that. Liz, just thank you for being you. Thank you for being vulnerable and real. And to our listeners, it’s our intention that this podcast inspires you to go out and have authentic conversations to deepen the connections in your life. Thank you so much and make it a great day.

Speaker 1: You’ve been listening to Hidden Human, The Stories Behind The Business Leader. If you’ve enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. To learn more about Kelly and the services she provides, visit Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll be back soon with a new episode.