LIA Member Story Bently Senegal

Bently B. Senegal, director of community services for Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, shares how his Leadership Lafayette experience better equipped him to serve our community.
Bently Senegal

Which LIA program(s) have you participated in?

Leadership Lafayette – Class XXVI

Briefly describe your life as a leader before LIA.

I was active in the community before Leadership Lafayette through volunteering on several non-profit boards and community projects. However, I was reluctant to seek out and/or accept leadership roles when the opportunities presented themselves.

How did you hear about LIA and/or its programs?

I was recommended by our CEO at the time that thought I would be a good candidate. I also had coworkers and friends that had gone through the Leadership Lafayette program and who spoke very highly of it.

What made you want to participate in a LIA program?

I wanted to participate in Leadership Lafayette because I had hoped to acquire the tools, experiences and networks needed to help develop new ways to lead change in my organization and in the community.

What were you hoping to learn and/or gain from the experience?

I expected to expand my knowledge of the diverse dynamics, issues, challenges and opportunities that impact my work, personal life and the community that I love and serve. My expectation was that my role in the community could be impacted by using the knowledge gained to practice innovative leadership strategies to become a catalyst for positive change.

What were you most nervous about prior to participating?

I wasn’t nervous about participating in the program, but I did wonder about the expectations and any time commitments required beyond the weekly meetings.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

I really enjoyed most of the days/activities of the program. The trip to the Louisiana State Capitol where we met with congressmen and saw the legislative sessions in action was great. I also liked the visits/tours of the schools in upper Lafayette. Although I was very familiar with these schools, it gave some of my classmates a different perspective that perhaps was new to them. This helped when we talked about disparities in education in Lafayette Parish.

What surprised you the most about your experience?

I was most surprised to find that at the time there was not an element of healthcare in the Economic Engine Day with healthcare being such a vital part of the economy in Acadiana. I did help implement a healthcare piece into the program the following year, however.

What has been your greatest or most rewarding achievement since your experience with LIA?

Being named one of the ULL Christiana Smith African American Alumni Chapter’s Outstanding Graduates for my work in the community and being asked to give the commencement address for South La Community College’s (SLCC) graduation (as Immediate Past President of the SLCC Foundation Board).

Who do you think would benefit from the program and why?

I really think that anyone can benefit from Leadership Lafayette, simply by going through the process. It will teach you a lot about yourself in terms of discipline when you must meet the expectations of making the classes each month, being on time, monitoring your phone usage, doing homework when applicable, etc. Also, I’m almost certain you will learn something about Lafayette that you did not know before the class. Just the engagements and interactions with your classmates will be enlightening as you witness their different personalities, professions, gifts and talents. At the end of the program, I think anyone that goes through the Leadership Lafayette Program will gain knowledge and experiences that will help them back at their workplace, home and in the community.

Is there any advice you’d like to give future participants?

Go into the program with an open mind and an understanding that other participants will have backgrounds, beliefs, opinions, convictions, interests and motivations that may be different from your own. However, don’t let it tempt you to be judgmental or closed-minded. Rather, accept it as an opportunity to learn from others. You will have the opportunity to gain some valuable knowledge of how Lafayette “works” and make some great friends and network connections. Your classmates and presenters’ different viewpoints will remind you that people are different but there is strength in diversity.

Any feedback and/or ideas for how you’d like to see LIA, or its programs grow in the future?

Please keep healthcare as a part of the program. Healthcare is so important in our community on so many levels. Disparities in healthcare would be a GREAT topic of discussion, especially in what we are seeing with the disproportionate deaths with COVID-19.

Anything else you’d like to comment on or say about LIA?

I thought I knew Lafayette before participating in the Leadership Lafayette Program. However, what I learned was that I knew Lafayette from the “outside in,” but after graduating from the Leadership Lafayette Program I had the opportunity to get a close-up view of Lafayette from the “inside out” which truly made a difference for me as to networking, serving and just knowing how to get things done in the community. It was very beneficial for me and I am better equipped to serve our community for having gone through the Leadership Lafayette Program.

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