Culture of Ethics Remains Strong in PBC Nearly A Decade After LPBC Initiative

Courtney Curatolo
Leadership Palm Beach County
October 25, 2016

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead


This quote is the perfect testament to the amazing things Leadership Palm Beach County’s alumni do when they use the values of connecting, collaborating, and being a catalyst for positive change in our community.


The Ethics Initiative launched in 2007 is a strong example of the impact a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can have on the world.


Recently, the Inspector General released a letter on his two year anniversary in the position, and with so many new alumni members over the past eight years, it is important to remember how this historical initiative was implemented in Palm Beach County.


Here’s how it started….In response to the convictions of several county and municipal elected officials, LPBC’s past presidents, Marty Rogol and David Baker, brought people together to stimulate dialogue and change in our community.  A committee was formed to study best practices in ethics policy and education, survey opinion leaders, advise on public policy and host community-wide forums on ethics.  The Ethics Initiative successfully formed a coalition with a number of community and business groups to bring about ethics reform in Palm Beach County.


The Ethics Pledge was created in 2008 based on the Athenian Oath, which had its origin in Athens, Greece more than 2,000 years ago.  In 2009, following the issuance of a grand jury report on corruption in Palm Beach County, the committee partnered with other community organizations to advise on and draft county ordinances for a referendum to establish a Commission on Ethics, Office of Inspector General, and a Code of Ethics as part of the county’s charter.  In 2010, 72% of voters approved the referendum and extended oversight to the employees and elected officials of each of the county’s municipalities.


In 2011, the National Association of Counties presented its Achievement Award to Palm Beach County for its sweeping ethics reform measures. Again, due in large part to several LPBC alumni, the Ethics Initiative was recognized as an effective and innovative program which contributes to and enhances county government, and serves as an outstanding example of promoting transparency in government. 


While compliance measures were a critical solution to the corruption issues taking place, members of LPBC’s Ethics Initiative committee also helped to establish a Center for Applied Ethics at Palm Beach State College focused on providing education and training to assist organizations and employees in creating a culture of ethics.


Almost a decade later, Leadership Palm Beach County past presidents and other alumni are still working to ensure a culture of ethics remains; and the Inspector General is focused on promoting efficiency, effectiveness, and integrity in local government.


And for those who aren’t as knowledgeable about the issue, we’ve engrained the importance of ethics into our programming. Just recently, our Leadership Engage Class of 2017 participated in their first session, Civics and Government Day, and learned that good government is everyone’s business. 


Our participants ended that day with this to ponder (and I ask the same of you): what will you do to ensure a culture of ethics is spread through your organization?


Courtney Curatolo, PhD, is Chief Executive Officer of LPBC.