PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, OH – Challenging graduates to achieve success in life, James H. Hartung, President and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, addressed the Owens Community College graduating class as the academic institution held its 29th annual Fall Commencement on Dec. 14.
Serving as keynote speaker, Hartung shared with the record 558 graduates, including 89 from the Findlay-area Campus, and family, friends and relatives in attendance about the importance of becoming leaders through “extreme leadership” and a four-letter acronym of LEAP (Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof), which focuses on the ideals of understanding and cultivating leadership.
“Those who can be characterized by LEAP are the people who make a difference,” stated Hartung. “As you continue or begin your career LEAP to the future. Love what you do and don’t be embarrassed or afraid to say it. Let the energy flow. Be audacious and think big. Finally, go out and prove it to yourself and to all with whom you come in contact.”
As Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority President, Hartung is responsible for all operations involving the Port of Toledo, Toledo Express Airport, Metcalf Airport, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza – the region’s passenger rail station – and the administrator of innovative financing programs. He also oversees a staff of 60 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $12 million.
He joined the Port Authority staff in May 1994 after 11 years as Port Director at Burns International Harbor on Lake Michigan. Hartung holds the distinction of having served three terms as President of the International Association of Great Lakes Ports, the organization representing United States and Canadian Great Lakes Ports. He was the principal author of the Declaration of Indiana, the first agreement to unify the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system’s maritime industry. In 1992, he was founder and first President of the Northwest Indiana World Trade Council and formerly served on the boards of the Northwest Indiana Forum, Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, and Leadership Northwest Indiana. From 1970-80, Hartung served in leadership posts under three mayoral administrations in Chicago.
Hartung is the recipient of numerous awards. In 1999, he was honored with the first “James Hartung Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Northwest Indiana World Trade Council, which was named for him for his contributions and dedication to stimulating international trade in Northwest Indiana. In 1991, Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh proclaimed him “Sagamore of the Wabash,” Indiana’s highest achievement award. The Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Maritime Forum also named him Person of the Year.
He serves as Chairman of the Transportation Council for the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, Chairman of The University of Toledo’s Intermodal Transportation Institute, Chairman of The University of Toledo’s College of Business Advisory Board, former Chairman of the United States delegation of the American Association of Port Authorities, and is on the Advisory Board of the National Aviation Transportation Center. He serves as Chairman for ICHCA International Limited, an international cargo handling and coordinating association. He was also reappointed in 2006 to the Greater Toledo Urban League Board of Directors as Executive Vice Chair.
A Chicago native, Hartung received his bachelor’s degree in Sociology, History and Literature from Andrew’s University and did graduate study work in Public Administration at Georgia State University and DePaul University.
In addition, Isawaty Kasim, an Early Childhood Education Technology major, was selected as the Owens class representative and addressed the graduates during the Fall Commencement ceremony.
Kasim was born and grew up in Indonesia, a country most Americans remember as the area hardest struck by the 2004 tsunami. Her family came to the United States in the summer of 2000. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Secretarial Vocation from Jakarta, Indonesia. However, because of language and cultural differences, Kasim could not apply her skills in the United States.
The Sylvania resident enrolled at Owens in the fall of 2001 in business classes. Her direction changed when she took a job as an assistant teacher at a local church’s toddler program. After working with young children, she felt a calling to work in the education field.
An honors student with a 4.0 grade point average, Kasim is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and has been nominated for the Gerald Bazer Award and the Outstanding Graduate in the Field of Teacher Education Award.
Kasim credits the educational success she has achieved to her supportive family, including her husband, David Darmahkasih, and her two children, Andrew and Andrea.
“I began to see myself as a different person as a result of my Owens education,” Kasim stated. “Not only did I gain self-confidence and the courage to be a teacher, but I also felt prepared to set out and find my own classroom.”
The focus of Kasim’s commencement speech addressed her personal journey and the trials and tribulations she encountered upon arrival in the United States. Highlights also included her desire to pursue an American education.
“Today, we celebrate the victory of becoming college graduates after years of struggling with homework, assignments, projects and tests,” she stated. “Our hard work and sacrifice at Owens have earned us the diploma that bears each of our names. And although we may come from difference educational backgrounds, races and financial status, we have joined together to celebrate this important milestone.”
In the future, Kasim envisions continuing her education and eventually operating her own preschool program or child care center.
Owens Community College is one of the fastest-growing higher educational institutions in Ohio. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 45,000 credit and non-credit students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers associate degrees that transfer to baccalaureate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and over 130 technical program areas in Agriculture, Business, Health Sciences, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Skilled Trades, and Engineering and Transportation Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor’s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university. For more information, visit www.owens.edu.