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A simple card game provided community and a career in public service for Bryan Barnett. He hadn’t found inspiration for his scholastic studies until he was invited to join a card game at lunch. It didn’t seem transformational at the time, but he “said yes, met a group of people… That led me to becoming the student body president among the myriad of other leadership roles in the university.” The seemingly simple invitation ended up paving his path into serving his community as a public servant.

The mayor has used his community of Rochester Hills, Mich., and his community of peer mayors to build a city with high marks for its business prospects, safety, fire department and more. While he was the youngest person in the nation to be elected mayor of a city with a population greater than 50,000, Bryan Barnett attributes his city’s many successes to the great team he has in Rochester Hills that focuses on innovation, infrastructure and inclusion.

Even despite the uncertainty and fear of the coronavirus pandemic that’s affecting the nation, Mayor Barnett believes that combating COVID-19 will require a local, state, national and global response that would be impossible without the notion of community. As social distancing creates feelings of isolation and loneliness, Mayor Barnett is inspired by his constituents that create community through their tremendous optimism and willingness to help.

Listen to the full interview to hear Bryan Barnett discuss glow-in-the-dark sidewalks, the importance of “being invited,” and how mayors across the nation are "In the Arena" together during this coronavirus pandemic.

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