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Developing new leaders

New programs being developed by leadership organization

New programs being developed by leadership organization

September 10, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

Cindy Kalkbrenner has a favorite quote she likes to recite.

It was John Quincy Adams who said: "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

It's a fitting quote for Kalkbrenner, who in April took over as the executive director of Leadership Washington County. The organization, created in 1987 and previously known as Leadership Hagerstown, became independent of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and is expanding its programs.

At its core is a nine-month leadership program aimed at mid-level professionals and others in the community. About 30 people take part in the program every year, meeting once a month to discuss issues such as business and economic development, education, culture and quality of life, the history of Washington County, health and human services and other topics.

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Issues discussed have included uncontrolled growth in the county, housing costs, teenage pregnancy and the need for better jobs, Kalkbrenner said.

The program's goal is to make the participants stronger and more active leaders in the community, she said.

Kalkbrenner said she thinks it's working.

When Kalkbrenner recently attended a popular local festival, the first five volunteers Kalkbrenner saw were graduates of the leadership program, she said.

The program also gives participants a chance to network and employers, who typically pay the $1,200 cost, are investing in their employees, making them more likely to stay.

"Private gain is not incompatible with public good," Kalkbrenner said.

The class runs from September to June, with Class No. 20 set to begin with a retreat that ends today.

Newer programs either under way or in development will focus on students and others in the community.

Created three years ago, a leadership program similar to the one now offered to adults brings together high school students and Hagerstown Community College educators and students. They focus on issues similar to those the participants in Leadership Washington County study.

Under development is a new Boardsmanship Development program, which has as its goal building stronger boards of directors for nonprofits in the community, according to Dale Bannon, who is chairman of that development program committee.

Bannon said he hopes graduates of Leadership Washington County and others in the community will be prompted to serve on the boards of organizations in which they are interested. Training modules are being developed to show what it is like to serve on a board of directors, he said.

Another program, a CEO Orientation, will help new CEOs and other senior executives who are new to the area become aquatinted with Washington County, Kalkbrenner said.

She envisions having such a program about four times a year, gathering new executives.

As part of an Alumni Association program, Kalkbrenner said she hopes a fund will be created to allow the organization to match all or part of donations Leadership Washington County graduates make to nonprofits.

Another goal, similar to that of the Boardsmanship Development program, is to match graduates' areas of interest and expertise with organizations in the community.

Future goals are to have Leadership Washington County be more involved in community projects. Examples, Kalkbrenner said, might be to have participants build a house for Habitat for Humanity, help a nonprofit create a strategic plan, ride along with a police officer or hold a baby born to a drug-abusing mother.

Social change, Kalkbrenner said, is possible when one figuratively walks in another person's shoes.

Bannon attended Class 19, and was so impressed with the program, he agreed to serve on Leadership Washington County's board.

"I found it as a great way to reconnect with the community that I was born and raised in," but left for nearly 10 years, he said.

Bannon left the county in 1996 and, when he returned in 2005, found it had changed.

"Just to learn more about that growth and development and unique challenges, it was really an eye-opener," he said.

Bannon said he made a network of friends and colleagues, and still communicates with his fellow participants.

"The camaraderie and the networking aspect of the program is very beneficial, but the learning modules every month taught me more about my community than I knew," he said.

"I would say that I now have a greater appreciation for a tremendous quality of life we all enjoy in Washington County, and it also impressed upon me the need to give back to the community," Bannon said.

Bannon said he now is more active in the community than before he attended the leadership program.

"This program whets your appetite, so to speak, for community service," Bannon said.

Photo by Erick Gibson/Staff Photographer

Cindy Kalkbrenner, executive director of Leadership Washington County, sits in her office at Hagerstown Community College's Technical Innovation Center. Kalkbrenner took over as executive director in April.

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