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Leadership Programs through Iowa Valley Community College District

February 28, 2012
By Betsy Macke, Deb Sabin & Laura Schinnow , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Ever wondered "Why doesn't someone do something about ______ (fill in the blank) to improve my community?" Leadership programs give an individual the awareness, training, and networking to be that someone and take the lead to make it happen.

Leaders are vital assets to communities and workplaces, and new leaders are often hard to find. Some don't see themselves as leaders or feel unprepared to accept the challenge and responsibility of leadership. Encouraging and developing new leaders is the goal of Iowa Valley Continuing Education's four leadership programs.

Each Iowa Valley leadership program has a steering committee that guides the selection of topics and speakers; steering committee members also serve as facilitators. All of the programs have common elements, yet each has unique features that reflect the local community. Common goals include uniting emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds, increasing knowledge and understanding of community issues, broadening the collective vision of county and community, and enhancing each individual's ability to lead.

Marshalltown's Iowa Valley Leadership (IVL) began in 1987, co-sponsored with the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce. With knowledge of current community issues, IVL members are expected to assume more responsible and meaningful leadership roles. The format stresses interaction, inclusion, experiential learning and stewardship. Each year, participants complete a group project.

Leadership Iowa Falls Experience (LIFE) has operated for 12 years and educated over 100 leaders. The LIFE program is co-sponsored with Iowa Falls Chamber/Main Street Inc. This program emphasizes learning about the community of Iowa Falls and its history, economy, government and uniqueness. Participants explore topics such as healthcare, the aging population, agriculture and business and industry. Class projects have benefited the community in many ways over the years.

The Poweshiek Leadership Program (PLP) started in the fall of 2003, co-sponsored with Poweshiek Iowa Development, Pow I-80, ISU Poweshiek County Extension, and Imagine Grinnell. This program emphasizes personal, professional and civic goals including adopting a more global perspective, accepting challenges with confidence, taking advantage of an expanded county-wide network of contacts and colleagues, and promoting the essence of "community." PLP sponsors an annual golf tournament to raise funds for programming and scholarships.

Iowa Valley's newest leadership program is in Tama County, which just started last fall. Topics are a mixture of skill development (e.g., communication, creating a vision, and conflict management) and county-specific topics like population demographics and economic issues facing the county. Unlike other programs, participants only meet face-to-face for two hours each month. Monthly sessions are supplemented with online information including session handouts, reading recommendations, and leadership resources.

Participants in all of Iowa Valley's leadership programs develop a greater appreciation of issues facing today's leaders, increased confidence for seeking and leading change, hands-on practice using leadership skills, commitment to action for community well-being, and valuable links to people in diverse leadership roles.

"The leadership program was an eye-opening journey taken with like-minded professionals with various points of view, but with similar countywide goals," said participant Patty Kalvelage. "This program helped me to develop professionally and personally by being informed to step up and accept challenges and volunteer opportunities brought forth by groups and events in the county."

Betsy Macke, Deb Sabin and Laura Schinnow work with the four leadership programs offered through Iowa Valley Continuing Education.



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