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Leadership Whatcom: developing our future leaders.

In a community as diverse as Whatcom County, there is always a need for good leaders. Leadership Whatcom is designed to prepare those leaders, who will help shape the growth and change in the county in the coming years.

"The unique quality of life we enjoy in Bellingham and Whatcom County is a result of strong leaders and responsible citizens," said Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Guy Occhiogrosso. "Leadership Whatcom is a program offered by the Bellingham/ Whatcom Chamber that presents a rare opportunity for individuals to develop their leadership strengths, gain direct access to local movers and shakers, and define their roles as true stewards of our community."

Occhiogrosso and Mary Dumas, president of Dumas and Associates, have developed this year's program for Leadership Whatcom. The program helps teach two key elements of leadership: learning about the key issues facing our community and listening to everyone's ideas and perspectives.

"I believe a good leader is someone who is informed and someone who can consider varying perspectives," Occhiogrosso said. "Leadership Whatcom's curriculum informs participants about the issues and teaches soft skills like listening."

Leadership Whatcom is entering its 10th year as the county's leadership program and is accepting applications until April 20. The nine-month program begins April 24.

The class size is 12-24. Those students will have an experiential learning process involving panels of local experts on topics including economic vitality, government and education, and meeting basic needs of the community.

Class visits to local businesses and organizations help participants understand how the community works and allows them to have discussions with other community leaders about the issues they face. During the government and education session, participants meet with local and state policy-makers to gain a better understanding of how government works.

Another benefit to the course is the varying leadership styles participants are exposed to.

"Leadership Whatcom provides people an opportunity to build their skills in the company of other professionals and community members who may have different perspectives and experiences, which creates a very rich environment for learning," Dumas said.

"This year, we'll do more to include the program's alumni," said Occhiogrosso.

"The Chamber engaged alumni, sponsors and leadership curriculum professionals in focus groups over the winter, and we are excited to roll out a revamped program that offers participants and alumni several opportunities to apply their talents in a range of service projects and community conversations throughout the program year, uccmogrosso saia.

There are almost 150 Leadership Whatcom alumni from the previous nine years per Occhiogrosso. "The goal is to involve our alumni in building the content for each subject," he said. "It allows them to put into practice the skills they learned when they took part in the program." This includes assisting in the facilitation of programs and sharing their experiences to give students real-world applications of the material they are learning.

The chamber will also offer Leadership Whatcom alumni exclusive educational opportunities and networking events so they may continue their professional development.

"Leadership Whatcom is a continuing experience of learning and service through supporting robust thinking about important community issues and the leadership qualities needed for the future," Dumas said. "As adults our learning is never complete and this provides an ongoing environment to practice and showcase our skills."

So why is the chamber involved in developing new generations of leaders?

"Chambers have always been about relationships," he said. "Over the past 30 years our society has called this networking, but when you boil it down, it's building relationships. That's why the Chamber is involved, because it's important to facilitate those healthy relationships."

By helping develop leaders, the chamber brings a community of different people and perspectives together. '

"Few community organizations interact with government leaders, nonprofit leaders and business leaders," Occhiogrosso said. "There are only a few of us that can facilitate this type of discussion among those different types of people. We do this all the time in our regular programming, so it's a natural fit to house a leadership program in the chamber."

The sessions are a commitment of one day each month, with no sessions in July or August. Program participants need the full work day dedicated to Leadership Whatcom so they can take trips, meet with expert panels and hold group discussions.

Tuition for Leadership Whatcom covers transportation, food and facilitating and curriculum costs. The cost for chamber members is $ 1,000 and $ 1,200 for nonmembers. Payment is due to the chamber by the April 20 registration deadline.

A big part of being a leader in Whatcom County is learning more about the community and how it works together. Leadership Whatcom gives that continued education and opportunity for making your voice heard.

"Seize the moment," Dumas said. "There's no better time to step into new leadership and expand your network. In this, our 10th year of Leadership Whatcom, we're bringing the best of our leadership studies and our alumni together throughout the year and we hope you'll join us."

LEADERSHIP WHATCOM 2015 Program Schedule

April 24, 2015

Leadership Retreat for Team Building & Overview Whatcom County Sense of Place

This session will introduce participants to each other, review the program objectives and examine collaborative leadership styles and team building tools. Organizational issues will be addressed to maximize personal learning. The class will explore Whatcom County, its people and many distinct communities. Participants will explore local history and the features that create a "sense of place" in Whatcom County and principles of ethical leadership.

May 29, 2015

Economic Vitality

The class will explore the economic health of Whatcom County including the many sectors and employers that invest in the future of Whatcom County. Participants will investigate principles of situational leadership that support a culture of innovation and participation.

June 26, 2015

Government & Education

The class will use explore governmental approaches to managing the public good of our community and the county's institutions of higher learning. Participants will also explore principles of transformational leadership.

September 25, 2015

Creating Healthy Communities & Meeting Basic Needs

The class will examine principles of inclusion and dignity related to meeting basic needs across the county, including safety, food and housing. Participants will explore servant leadership practices and approaches.

October 16, 2015

Legal Systems & Public Safety

The class will explore the duties courts and other officials working in the field of public safety and justice. We'll also delve into the unique challenges that border communities face Participants will examine principles of facilitative leadership.

November 6, 2015

Community Stewardship & Quality of Life

* The class will celebrate foe many forms of caring and creativity that take place every day in Whatcom County thanks to foe many nongovernmental, faith-based and arts organizations contributing to our community's well-being. Participants will explore principles and practices of visionary leadership.

December 18, 2015

Putting Leadership Skills into Action & Evening Reception

The class will reflect on personal leadership development goals and the professional skills and networks developed over the 9month program. A short reception will be held to honor program graduates and hear about their plans to actively care for Whatcom County in foe years to come.
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Title Annotation:WHATCOM REPORT
Author:Peterson, Alex
Publication:BBJToday
Date:Apr 1, 2015
Words:1182
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