Leadership Greater Madison: Graduates impact local community issues

Contact: Lynn Wood

Coordinator, Leadership Greater Madison


Trained Civic Leaders Tackled Big Issues of Community-Supported Education, Neighborhood Engagement and Work Force/Economic Development

[MADISON] — Seventeen local members of the Madison-area business and nonprofit community completed their ten-month civic leadership training program and celebrated their noteworthy community impact at a graduation ceremony Tuesday. Members of the 18th graduating class of Leadership Greater Madison (LGM), a civic training program for emerging leaders sponsored by the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Wood Communications Group, presented the final reports on their collaborative team projects. The projects were completed in partnership with local organizations in the areas of community-supported education, quality of life and work force/ economic development.

“Now, more than ever, citizen engagement and understanding of the critical issues facing the community is crucial to securing a prosperous future for both Dane County and Wisconsin,” said Jennifer Alexander, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Thrive. “Our elected officials have made, and continue to make, difficult policy decisions that impact all of us and it is critically important that people understand those issues and are prepared to take an active leadership role to ensure successful outcomes.”

Jim Wood, President of Wood Communications noted, “The more our issues such as jobs, economic development and education continue to be at the forefront of discussion throughout the community, the more important it is that committed local leaders have the understanding and the skills to actively engage in the decision-making progress. Leadership Greater Madison is an excellent example of how we can prepare people for those challenges.”

Through the course of the year, the class breaks into small groups to address a critical need related to a key community issue and identifies a tangible way to impact that issue. The teams partner with local organizations to plan, create and implement their projects. This year, the teams engaged in the following projects:

* Quality of Life – The team partnered with the Prairie Hills Neighborhood Association and the Madison Police Department to help create a more cohesive and supportive neighborhood structure. The team surveyed residents, worked with association volunteers and helped forge new relationships with community resources in order to increase neighborhood engagement by residents. The results were significant increases in community commitment and participation.

Gloria Meyer, vice president of the Prairie Hills Neighborhood Association, explained how the LGM team helped stimulate increased neighborhood involvement. “The team has provided us with research, planning and organizational advice, and materials to use in strengthening our organization. Because of their work, our annual meeting was the best meeting we’ve had to date, with an attendance much greater than we expected. At all times, they have been professional and enthusiastic. This has been a true partnership with excellent results for our organization.”

* K-12 Education – With the goal of strengthening business support of the education community, the K-12 education team worked with the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools to expand the Adopt-A-School program in the Madison Metropolitan School District. The project team organized and facilitated the first Adopt-A-School Summit. Nearly 100 stakeholders from the community, including large and small businesses, government partners, school district leaders, individual school leaders, parent teacher organizations, concerned citizens and the media met for a three-hour forum hosted by CUNA Mutual Group. The program consisted of a panel discussion and various break-out sessions that provided essential information and encouraged engagement in the Adopt-A-School program. New business and school partnerships were formed and a guidebook for the Adopt-A-School partnerships was also created as a result of the summit. The Foundation plans to continue to summits in the future.

* Economic and Workforce Development – The economic development/workforce development team focused their efforts on bridging the gap between existing training programs for skilled workers and the current kinds of entry level employment opportunities. The team worked closely with Operation Fresh Start and the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Foundations program to help increase awareness about the need for a greater connection between the skill training that is offered and the jobs that are available. The group conducted in-depth interviews with nonprofit organizations and human resource departments; analyzed job training programs to determine their utility; and explored methods to help bridge the gap between in-school and nonprofit job training programs and potential employers. Ultimately, the team’s public awareness efforts led them to coordinators of the promising Madison Metropolitan School District partnership with the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, a partnership that is well positioned to serve as a critical link for bridging in-school job training programs to industry.

Together, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Wood Communications Group offer two leadership training programs which provide the education and skill training that motivate individuals from businesses and nonprofit organizations to assume leadership roles in their community. Civitas, a six-month, high-level overview of critical issues and local government operations, and LGM, an in-depth training and skill development program that includes life-changing experiential learning and community partnership opportunities, offer an insider’s look at local government and some of the most important issues facing Dane County. These programs provide a behind-the-scenes look at several topics including, but not limited to, local government and public school operations; economic and workforce development efforts; and the delivery of social services. Both programs offer perspectives and insights on the greater Madison area that are unique. Graduates of both programs praise the quality of the topics and discussions; the relevance and importance of the training offered; the high caliber of the speakers; the richness of the experiences; and the benefit and enjoyment of the relationships that are formed.

Hilary Kleese, marketing director of First Choice Dental and LGM18 graduate commented, “I could not be more pleased with my LGM experience, from the standpoints of community and civic education, building my knowledge and skills base to be a more effective participant in my community, as well as facilitating the right local people connections in order to be able to reach out to others as I participate as a community leader.” Kleese continued, “I am more excited than I’ve ever been to roll up my sleeves, dig in and do just that, and I feel more equipped than ever to be of real value to my community.”

LGM and Civitas are both accepting applications for the 2012 sessions which are scheduled to begin in February. Interested individuals can apply by visiting http://www.leadershipgreatermadison.org or http://www.civitaswi.org.

Leadership Greater Madison – Class of 2011

The following individuals have successfully completed the Leadership Greater Madison’s 18th class:
1. Karen Ball – Program Development and Education Manager, South Central Wisconsin Area Health Education Center; formerly with Operation Fresh Start
2. Steve Broeckert – Director of Underwriting, Dean Health Plan
3. Darlene Davis – Owner, Little Explorers Nature Center Preschool
4. Arlington Davis – Compliance Attorney, Wisconsin Physicians Services Insurance Corporation
5. Chad Eschler – Director of Small Projects, J.H. Findorff & Son
6. Becky Johnson – Director, Business and Financial Performance, Alliant Energy Corporation
7. Matthew Karnick – Assistant Vice President, Business Development, First Business Bank
8. Hilary Kleese – Marketing Director, First Choice Dental Group, S.C.
9. Molly Lahr – Executive Director, MAGNET
10. Jessica Mac Naughton – Senior Manager, Wipfli LLP
11. Jessica Meier – Assistant Vice President, M&I Business Banking
12. John Patterson – Lieutenant, Madison Police Department
13. Brian Thill – Attorney, Murphy Desmond S.C.
14. Dale Tomalin – Senior Brand Strategist, CUNA Mutual Group
15. Jenifer Warrell – Director, Marketing & Sales, American Girl
16. Jessica Worley – formerly with Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau*
17. Barbara Zabawa – Attorney, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek
*did not complete the program due to a family job relocation.