Leadership Manatee is a critical development resource

April 29, 2013 

Leadership Manatee has vital role

Leadership: It's a word that means different things to different people, but its importance cannot be underestimated -- or overvalued.

This month, the Leadership Manatee Alumni Association honored one of its own with the annual Kent Schulz Distinguished Leadership Award. This year's recipient was Jaymie Carter, a graduate of the Leadership Manatee class of 1987. Jaymie's generous service to a long list of non-profits has made a huge difference in critical services to women, children and the quality of life in Manatee County. Congratulations, Jaymie, on this well-deserved honor.

As a graduate of Leadership Manatee, I know Jaymie would tell you that the program is one of the best in our community to develop leadership skills and hone in on the issues and causes that mean the most to you. The Manatee Chamber Foundation, in partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton, has offered the Leadership Manatee program since 1982. We have now surpassed 1,000 graduates, each possessing an in-depth knowledge of Manatee County, its opportunities and challenges. The vision for Leadership Manatee is that our community never lacks leadership for our critical non-profits, in elected office and in our businesses. Applications for the 2013-2014 class are available now at www.ManateeChamber.com and are due back no later than May 24.

I encourage you to review the program's goals. Class agendas evolve each year to ensure that class members' experience is relevant and a dedicated board of directors utilizes the talents of past graduates to shape curriculum. Beyond the knowledge that participants gain, lifelong friendships are cultivated. I can still pick up the phone and call the members of my class (1982) when I need advice or resources.

The Leadership Manatee Alumni Association has also strengthened its partnership with our neighbors to the south. The Leadership Sarasota and Manatee Alumni began a new partnership last year through which graduates of both programs come together to learn more about our communities. For the Sarasota leaders, we highlight important business, economic and community assets and they do the same for us. Regional issues bring us together in ways that foster a broader network, appreciation of each other's strengths and common goals that benefit us all.

Leadership: A community without it is like the proverbial ship without an oar. Thankfully we have Leadership Manatee as a critical resource for leadership development.

Robert P. Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at 941-748-3411 or BobB@ManateeChamber.com.

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