Why? Since 1972, the organization he leads, Bidwell-Manchester, has attracted national recognition for its innovative and career-oriented training that changes the lives of people in transition in southwestern Pennsylvania. Bidwell provides literacy and remedial education and partners with leading corporations to design high-caliber, market-relevant career training programs that lead to entry-level employment. For more than 40 years, its sister Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild has been a unique haven—a multi-disciplined arts and learning center that fosters a sense of belonging, interconnections, and hope within the urban community. Simply put, he’s broken the code.
The entrepreneurial leadership he has demonstrated over many decades is one heck of a Solving-Big-Problems Archetype. If we were able to amplify Bill’s efforts — let’s say by upping his funding so he could spread his training and crafts guild model around the globe — what would it look like?
Poverty and joblessness would disappear. And in the process the art of entrepreneurial wisdom would be handed down to the generations. Personal dignity and creative mastery would be on the rise. People wouldn’t feel lost. They would instead feel loved. And mentored — which come to think of is a true form of love. And the world would be a much better place.
Meet Bill Strickland, founder and CEO of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh’s North Side. This year Bill was honored with the 2011 Goi Peace Award, an international honor whose past recipients include Bill Gates, writer Deepak Chopra and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias SÃ¡nchez.
“By offering innovative educational and cultural opportunities with emphasis on the arts, beauty and respect, he has empowered thousands of youth and adults to restore hope and dignity and become creative contributors to their communities,” the Tokyo-based Goi Peace Foundation said of Strickland, who received the award on Nov. 19 in Japan.
“The award is an honor,” Strickland said. “But at the end of the day, I still have to go work.” Said like a true Saint. Which without going over the top — is just so easy to say of this man. Merry Christmas Bill and Manchester-Bidwell.
“A successful life is not something you simply pursue, it is something that you create, moment by moment.” – Bill Strickland
Julie Anixter is Chief Innovation Officer at Maga Design and the managing editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. She worked with Tom Peters for five years on bringing big ideas to big audiences. Now she works with the US Military and other high test innovation cultures that make a difference.