Knowledge. Service. Leadership. All three are critical to the success of a community.
More than thirty years ago, business men and women in Manatee County shared a vision that, in order to prepare for growth and change, we needed to ensure our community never experienced a dearth of leaders ready to rise to challenges. The Leadership Manatee program was created to develop knowledge, inspire service, and strengthen leadership within a perpetual pool of committed citizens.
More than 1,000 local business and community leaders have completed the program since 1982 and you won't find a graduate who won't say it's one of the best things they have done in Manatee County. Through Leadership Manatee, leaders are exposed to many of the challenges and opportunities facing our community. Equally important, these men and women develop strong connections with one another -- relationships based upon a common desire to make Manatee County the best place to live and work. And, while each year's class members have significant leadership experience going into the program, all find new inspiration for service to the community. Past graduates lead many of our area's non-profits, hold public office and run businesses critical to our economy and job base.
The program, which utilizes a competitive selection process, is lead by a board of past graduates and members of the Manatee Chamber and Kiwanis Club of Bradenton. These board members are assisted by other past graduates in developing each day's agenda. There are 13 program days built around a curriculum that intentionally exposes class members to a diverse set of community sectors, issues and challenges. For example, there are days individually focused on agriculture, education, healthcare, transportation, local government and human needs.
The deadline for applications for the 2014-2015 Leadership Manatee class are due Friday, May 23. Due to the strong interest of a large applicant pool each year and a desire for class di
versity, it is common for class members to apply more than once. You will find more information about the program's criteria and application process at www.ManateeChamber.com or by calling 941-748-3411.
Finally, last month the Leadership Manatee Alumni Association honored Rick Fawley with its annual Kent Schulz Distinguished Leadership Award. Rick's impact in our region stems from his servant's heart and his ability to inspire others around a common vision. Congratulations, Rick, on the well-deserved honor!
Bob Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at BobB@ManateeChamber.com.