Every Idaho town and city has the “STP” problem: The same ten people seem to be the only ones who step up to volunteer for community programs. How does a city groom new people to take their place?
The answer is a “Leadership” program, which are sponsored by Chambers of Commerce in a number of Idaho cities. Such programs gather a group of promising individuals, generally sponsored by their employers, to take classes over a number of months with each other. The Leadership programs teach the people new skills, provide invaluable contacts and, most of all, develop a camaraderie with each other that lasts for years.
And yet these programs are unfortunately not always very well known. We sat down with Madison Warner, leadership development manager for the Boise Metro Chamber, to find out more about its program.
How and when did Leadership Boise start?
The Leadership Boise program was developed by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce in 1975. Since its inception, the program has graduated more than 1500 civic leaders from all sectors of the community. The Boise Chamber’s program is one of the first to be established by Chambers around the country.
How many people go through the program every year, and how has that changed over time?
Like any program interest start small and has evolved in popularity among professionals and the business community over time. The reputation of the program has brought higher interest every year and in turn continues to bring leaders in who proceed with tradition as well as continue to develop the program around our metro’s pressing needs and topics. Each year, up to 54 leaders are selected to participate in this two year, masters-like community leadership program.
The following additions to Leadership Boise have continued to build a stronger program and community partnerships: Leadership Boise Academy, Leadership Boise Golf Tournament, Opening Retreat at YMCA Camp at Horsethief Reservoir and the Leadership Boise Alumni Association.
We see shifts in class size and business involvement with economy changes because of time commitment and financials.
How do you select people?
The application process for Leadership Boise begins every February. Selection of Leadership Boise participants is based on an interview and written application. An Interview and Selection Committee made up of LB Alumni begin the selection process for the class beginning in May and the new class is chosen and notified by end of June or beginning of July.
The Selection/Interview Team will evaluate both the written application and the interview for an overall candidate rating. The team will strive to identify each candidate’s demonstrated leadership roles, interpersonal communications skills, commitment to the community, commitment to the Leadership Boise program and other important traits agreed to by the committee.
The intent of the selection process is to identify members of the community who clearly demonstrate a sincere interest and commitment in contributing time and effort to the betterment of the community; who would thus benefit from a greater working knowledge of the community’s infrastructure components; and who represent a commitment to a tenured stay in the Boise area. This commitment may be demonstrated by prior service in Boise or other communities or may, due to age or professional role, be a newly dedicated interest.
What do you hope participants gain from the experience?
The purpose of Leadership Boise is to identify these new and potential leaders and offer a comprehensive program that will: Enhance and develop knowledge and understanding of our community, its complexities and its potential. Motivate and encourage participants to assume leadership roles in the community.
Provide an opportunity for participants to meet and exchange ideas with each other and with current community leaders.
How do you come up with the format of the program each year?
Participants who are accepted to the program on an annual basis attend monthly, day-long sessions about relevant and pressing topics that affect and impact living and working in Boise in the first year of the program. Our leaders extensively examine the past, present, and future of the Boise Metro area. Through the intentional curriculum and sessions, our leaders benefit from hearing a variety of perspectives and developing a foundation to expand their leadership in the community.
During their second-year, participants work in teams with their classmates to plan and develop each monthly, day-long session for the new class after them. The curriculum of each day is developed by the second years themselves after experiencing the sessions during their first year and reflecting on what relevant information should be passed along, built on more or altered altogether to reflect community needs and changes.
Who are some people who’ve been through the program? I know a lot of prominent leaders have participated.
Some additional participant quotes:
“Leadership Boise is a wonderfully interactive leadership program that promotes community awareness. The program has provided opportunities to connect and collaborate with leaders from many professions and nonprofit organizations. I am grateful for new friendships, a heightened awareness of our amazing community, and lessons learned on how to be a contributing member.” – Suzy Cavanagh, Tetra Tech
“Leadership Boise gave me the opportunity to connect, collaborate, and make an impact on my community. Thanks to Leadership Boise I’m a more well-rounded professional. The program challenges you to adapt and work collaboratively in teams with the betterment of Boise in mind. Leadership Boise is one of the many reasons Boise is such a great place to live, as it fosters community members who have a profound appreciation and pride in Boise.” –Kyle Bellnap, Northwest Banki