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Alumnus Publishes Book On Servant Leadership

Many University of St. Thomas graduates learn and embody the traits of a servant leader while studying at the University. Alumnus Laurence “Larry” Payne ‘72, host and producer of the television Public Affairs program “Dialogue Houston,” is no exception. Payne will release a collection of essays on servant leadership in a book titled, “The Heart of Houston: Lessons in Servant Leadership,” on Feb. 13.

Payne’s book, for which he wrote the introduction, explores different ways to create sustainable leadership, personal transformation and authentic involvement for individuals and organizations through the words of many prominent Houston leaders. Twenty-one essays come from five important Houston sectors—business, community, education, religion and healthcare—which include authors such as the Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Rabbi Samuel Karff, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel; Jim Kollaer, former CEO of Greater Houston Partnership; former first lady Andrea White and many more.

“A servant leader is charged with figuring out how to help the greater community,” Payne said. “It requires a person to have humility, compassion, empathy and the ability to listen and be non-judgmental. [The essays] exemplify the idea that the world is not solely about I or you, it’s about the togetherness of us.”

Payne, who originally came to UST as a seminarian studying at St. Mary’s Seminary, became interested in social justice and servant-leadership though his conversations with his Latin professor. Those conversations led to his involvement in several community projects and the University of St. Thomas Social Justice Committee.

“Servant leadership is about spreading the Gospel,” Payne said. “It talks a lot about all the things we learned in school—critical thinking, deliberation, collaboration, open mindedness, civic engagements, ethical integrity and mutual respect. It’s all about actions and behaviors. You have to look at the word and the deed and look at what is done versus what is said.”

In addition to producing “Dialogue Houston,” Payne also hosts “Interchange,” a talk show hosted on public radio. He also serves as board member of the Institute for Spirituality and Health, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, Children at Risk, Education Foundation of Harris County, SER-Niños Public Charter School and Houston Graduate School of Theology, where he served as president emeritus.

“I hope the book will raise the question, ‘What does it mean to contribute to the larger community?’” Payne said. “We are all servants and we can all help other human beings. When we help others, then we’ve done something right.”

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