Urban Leader Institute Class 26 Begins with Camp Joy Bonding Experiences

Urban Leader Institute Class 26 Retreat at Camp Joy.
“Life-changing” is how many Urban Leader Institute participants described their first program session at Camp Joy in Warren County.

The Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio’s Urban Leader Institute brings together leaders of color who want to understand and tackle issues of representation, inequality, and inequity in Cincinnati.

The program began on September 7-8, 2018 with 30 participants in Class 26. Many of them came together never having met before, so the weekend began with sessions designed to help the classmates learn more about each other, their background and future goals.

The retreat at Camp Joy is the bonding experience that kicks off the 10-month program. From rope climbs to campfire conversations, the Camp Joy activities are about tearing down external and internal walls and building friendships with fellow Urban Leaders.

The weekend experience can be emotional for some participants, so the Urban League asked an alum about her experience at Camp Joy. 

“Not only did we talk through issues facing Greater Cincinnati, but as a leader what we can do to address it within the places we work. That journey begins with me and the current role I play in our organization. The light bulb went off for me when we discussed starting the journey right now,” said Class 26 Urban Leader Institute participant, Elsie Saffron.

Pat Bready has been the Urban Leader Institute program facilitator since 2012.  She sees how the overall experience transforms participants into leaders who seek out ways to engage and improve opportunities to make differences in their own lives, in the community and within their organizations.

"It's my privilege to serve as facilitator for the Urban Leader Institute experience,” Bready said. “The journey is designed to be mentally, physically and philosophically challenging. During the experience, we work together to explore concepts of personal, professional and community leadership.”

Participants come from a variety of workplaces including the law enforcement agencies, corporations, and non-profits.

"I learned about areas that I can grow as a leader and started to really understand my leadership strengths. I've been able to realize that my approach is often times quiet leadership,” was the assessment of one of the Urban Leader participants.

Many local employers have partnered with the Urban League by sponsoring employees to participant in the Urban Leader Institute. If you or your corporation are interested and would like additional information, please contact Pat Bready at

Thank you to the following organizations for supporting the Urban Leader Institute by sending employees to participant in the program:


Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Cincinnati Police Department

Child Poverty Collaborative

Cincinnati Public Schools

Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

Citi Bank

Cooperative Business Services

Fifth Third Bank

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Messer Construction

Procter & Gamble

The Health Collaborative

The Kroger Company

UC Health

United Way of Greater Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati Public Safety

Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Western & Southern Financial Group