In 2002, I moved to Manhattan to attend K-State. Just before graduating in 2005, I discovered I loved the city: the natural beauty of the hills, lakes and rivers, the cozy coffee shops in Aggieville, the friendliness of my neighbors. But I didn’t think of Manhattan as a place to stay. I was sad to leave Manhattan when I graduated, but I thought I would never be back. Manhattan was a college town, and I didn’t see myself staying in one.

One year later, I returned for work, but I knew I would be gone in two years. I passed those two years quickly as a social worker and surprised myself completely by meeting my husband. By the time those two years were up, I was married, attending grad school and soon afterward, having our first child and buying our first home in the Northview neighborhood.

I didn’t think of Manhattan as a place to stay long-term, but as I discovered my calling as a therapist and worked with Soldiers and their families on Fort Riley, served in my church and in my neighborhood, I discovered a new side to Manhattan. It turned out, so many of the qualities that made this a great place to attend school also made it a great place to work, play and raise a family.

Manhattan was a city I could call home.

Manhattan is becoming a home to many young professionals and young families like mine, and yet we have work to do to build long-term opportunities for the upcoming generations and create a sustainable culture and future in Manhattan.

The truth is, Manhattan is at a pivotal moment in its history. We need strong, compassionate and visionary leadership to help us make the right decisions that will take us into the next season of prosperity and longevity.

I want to see our city define who it is, to uncover all its resources, abilities and beauty and in so doing, develop a flourishing and magnetic quality of place that attracts our next generation’s workforce and the businesses we want to build with.

Despite the challenges ahead, Manhattan’s future can be prosperous and sustainable. With the right leadership, Manhattan can take steps to build a great future while firmly planted on our traditions and relationships.

This is the moment to pass the baton.