In Memoriam of Georgia Sorenson
By Cynthia Cherrey, President & CEO, International Leadership Association
This month we lost one of the pillars of the leadership field and one of the founders of the International Leadership Association. Georgia Sorenson leadership author, mother, teacher, mentor, thought leader, editor, grandmother, passed away on October 18 with her daughter, Suzanna, by her side.
Georgia raised a smart and tenacious daughter, Suzanna who is now an ILA member who is passionate about healthcare leadership. She has left a legacy far beyond all of us that will be felt for generations and decades to come. The ILA was one of her legacies.
How did the ILA become the ILA? It was Georgia, along with Jim (James MacGregor) Burns who had the vision of a professional association for leadership, which was then championed by W.K. Kellogg Foundation Program Manager Larraine Matusak. Larraine saw in Georgia what we all came to realize upon working with her — she was a visionary, a dreamer, and a doer. She knew how to get things done through others working alongside her. Georgia, through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, brought together for the first time leadership scholars and scholarly practitioners from different disciplines to meet each other — convening at the University of Maryland, to share ideas and write together for the duration of the five-year grant. A subsequent “Meeting of the Minds” gathering — a prequel to ILA’s global conferences — was held at the University of Southern California between those who study leadership and those who practice leadership. From these gatherings the ILA was created to keep the leadership conversation going and growing. Georgia was the force that made this all happen. From those conversations the International Leadership Association was created in 1999.
Georgia has a long list of accomplishments and was honored as an ILA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in 2015. Her most recent appointment was as a Fellow at the Møller Institute at Churchill College, Cambridge University. To celebrate her many scholarly accomplishments there will be a session at the ILA global conference on Monday 9 November from 15:15-16:30 EST titled, "Georgia Sorenson: Scholar, Activist, & Institution Builder."
Her scholarly accomplishments are many. But it was her humanness that made her endearing to so many. Georgia was an inspiration, and we were fortunate to have such an influential beacon in our lives. She taught us about transformational leadership, encouraging us to speak our voice, be present in the moment, and making a difference. She made us better thinkers, kinder people, and wiser influencers. Quite simply, she represented the good in all of us.
Georgia embodied the values of the ILA plus some. She leaves with us an extraordinary legacy to carry forward.