Leadership Wabash Valley, named for the second year in a row as one of the nation's top 100 leadership development programs, is looking for potential leadership candidates in Clay County for their 2008 classes.
"There is a distinct lack of leadership in Clay County in general," Board Member David Wright said about a lack of people who either don't know they have the potential or don't know how to step into leadership roles that are necessary to help a community to grow. "We need to find a way to tap into this group of leaders."
Founded in 1978, the program has trained more than 1,000 individuals to take an active part in their community.
"Clay County has the people and the potential to rise once again to become a terrific community that attracts business," Wright said. "Our goal is to show these people, whether they are factory workers or factory presidents, that they can be leaders, that it is not a scary thing to step forward and take that initiative."
A graduate of last year's nine-month class, Wright said that more than 80 percent of the class graduates through the years have continued to live and participate in a variety of community service roles throughout the Wabash Valley.
"I personally would like to see more people from Brazil and Clay County participate. Coming from all walks of life, students in the classes have a tendency to look at the needs in their communities and find solutions for their problems," Wright said. "If everyone sits back and waits for something to happen, nothing happens. This class has a tendency to create excitement about a community's potential."
Wright said one problem Leadership Wabash Valley has had in the past is it does not inform local communities what the program can do to help them grow.
The program, which is much like attending nine monthly leadership seminars, is designed to identify and assist potential community leaders in the development of nonpartisan leadership and problem solving skills while enhancing their ability to positively impact their community.
Each class is made up of only the top 25 applicants, which are divided into four/five groups.
These groups research, plan and implement class projects focusing on a specific problem or issue facing the community of their choice. Many of the projects are conducted cooperatively with other community groups or state organizations.
Primary benefits include more informed citizens with a network of contacts to help solve problems. Businesses and organizations have employees who have grown personally and professionally and have a broader knowledge of the Wabash Valley.
With their new knowledge and skills, Wright said communities and businesses experience huge benefits when graduates return back into their community with the power to make a difference.
Establishing collaborative connections and promoting inspiration through personal growth and community trusteeship is part of the mission statement of the program and it's the reason YMCA Director Chad Zaucha is participating in this year's class.
"I attended a few of the Leadership Wabash Valley functions with David Wright and learned about the program and its mission statement. I really bought into it, and I believe in the mission statement of this program," Zaucha said. "I believe in that purpose. I want to spend my life in service to my community. I plan on implementing these skills at the YMCA and in any other organization that I'm involved with."
Wright said class members may apply to receive Continuing Education units from Indiana State University for their course work.
A business/organization interested in providing leadership training for their employees could spend upwards of $10,000, according to Wright, who said this program is a real bargain.
"The cost is $1,200, which, spread out over a nine month period, is a great bargain," he said about the expense, which is usually paid for by an employer. "The development of a person/leader is well worth the investment. It's a real bargain because you get so much in return, a better person, a better employee. You get a community-minded civic leader, which is priceless."
For more information about Leadership Wabash Valley, contact David Wright at 448-8110 or Executive Director Dixie Brown at 812-237-3031.