Building Systems that Are Resilient So People Don’t Have To Be: GPLEX 2023

By Amanda Owens

Melonie Butler, Executive Director of I Choose To Win returned to the Philly-area enthusiastic, encouraged and enlightened after attending her first-ever Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (GPLEX) event, hosted by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia held in New Orleans, Louisiana from September 30 through October 3, 2023. Thanks to the generosity of  HealthSpark Foundation, Butler was one of the 200 leaders from Philadelphia’s public, private and nonprofit sectors who attended this year’s event with the theme of “Resilience.” 


The overarching theme of GPLEX 2023 centered on the challenge to create resilient systems, alleviating individuals from the constant burdens of socio-economic injustices and challenges. This pervasive concept resonated throughout the conference, inspiring introspection, perspective shifting, and a comprehensive re-evaluation of organizational structures. The event’s emphasis on collective responsibility to construct robust systems garnered enthusiastic engagement during both large group sessions and intimate break-out discussions. Attendees were encouraged to connect with their personal missions, dream big, envision goals too vast to achieve alone, and lean into the larger community for support.


Jonathon Johnson, founder of Rooted Schools, delivered a compelling keynote presentation, initiating a participatory session that prompted attendees to contemplate their “Everest Project.” Throughout the conference, participants had ample opportunities to engage in thought-provoking discussions via main stage panels and informative breakout sessions, fostering dialogue and collaboration.


This immersive experience included exploring the local culture on regional trips, savoring culinary delights at nine Dinearound locations, and concluding the event with a memorable evening reception at Mardi Gras World. The authentic connections forged during small group workshops, table exercises, city landmarks visits, and intimate dinners underscored GPLEX 2023’s success in fostering not only professional growth but also a renewed commitment to creating resilient systems for the betterment of communities at large. To learn more about GPLEX, visit the Economy League Website