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Join Me in Leadership Wilmington

I’ve always been an advocate of personal and professional development. Even at this stage of my career I’m learning every day—and strive to do so—to more effectively perform in my role as the Wilmington Chamber CEO, as a mother, as a friend, and even as an (hopefully) entertaining dinner guest! While most of that knowledge is derived from new experiences on the job, interactions with others, and my own efforts to stay current on issues and trends, I have also found leadership courses to be very influential in my growth. I’ve been a part of several over the course of my career, and have learned something valuable from each.

As I settled into my new position and learned more about our own Leadership Wilmington program, I knew that I wanted to be part of the next class. What better way to learn about the city I promote than to hear firsthand from so many various community, non-profit and business leaders and from touring their organizations?

In addition, the leadership training sessions will surely yield many useful tips. Leadership Wilmington Co-Directors Scott Czechlewski and Faye Dunaway made a concerted effort when they took over the program last year to expand the leadership training portion of the program, adding sessions on team building, achieving consensus, emotional intelligence, and leadership philosophy. Those are all skills that each of us surely uses on a daily basis when managing employees, building rapport with clients, or imparting our wisdom to our children in a way that makes an impact.

The main objective of the Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Wilmington program is to educate, challenge and motivate leaders and future leaders to utilize their leadership skills to work for the betterment of our community. This is an area of keen interest for our Chamber board of directors. Developing leaders to serve on Chamber committees, on the boards of local organizations, and to run for public office was identified as an area of opportunity for the Chamber at our recent strategic planning sessions. Several members of our Chamber board are Leadership Wilmington graduates, and understand the value of the program and the conduit it creates to community involvement.

The components that will be stressed throughout the program include leadership skills and styles, community issues and challenges, and dynamics of regional social and economic change. The ten-month program consists of eight all-day sessions, an orientation social, a two-day retreat to begin the program, Work On Wilmington, and a graduation ceremony.

The all-day sessions occur once a month from September through April. To complete the program successfully, each class member is expected to participate in the orientation/social, retreat, all monthly program sessions, and Work On Wilmington. Participants must make a serious commitment to the program and employers must agree in advance to grant participants time off from their duties to attend all scheduled activities.

The class project is to organize and execute Work On Wilmington, an annual volunteer service event held every April.  On average, 1,000 volunteers roll up their sleeves and dedicate a half-day to tackle 30+ projects at schools and non-profits across Wilmington. The LW class solicits project applications, determines those chosen to be completed, provides logistics to conduct the projects, recruits volunteers, and raises the funds needed for supplies.  Each LW class member serves as a project leader at one of the sites, which include activities such as painting, landscaping, laying carpet, constructing playgrounds, etc.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the networking opportunities the program provides. Class members often create lifelong friendships, which are encouraged through alumni socials after the completion of the program.

If I’ve piqued your interest in participating, check your calendar against the program schedule and apply:

  • August 10, 2017: Orientation/Alumni Award/Social
  • August 24-25, 2017: Class Retreat, Fort Caswell, Oak Island, NC
  • September 19, 2017: Session 1 – Arts/History/Culture
  • October 17, 2017: Session 2 – Environment
  • November 14, 2017: Session 3 – Education
  • December 12, 2017: Session 4 – Human Services
  • January 9, 2018: Session 5 – Infrastructure
  • February 13, 2018: Session 6 – Crime & Punishment
  • March 13, 2018: Session 7 – Growth & Development
  • April 3, 2018: Session 8 – Politics & Government
  • April 28, 2018: Work On Wilmington
  • May: Graduation (Date TBD)

The application deadline for the 2018 Class of Leadership Wilmington is June 30, 2017. Participants will be sought from corporate, business, education, professional, non-profit and governmental sectors. A maximum of 35 participants for the class will be chosen which will reflect the diversity of our community. During the selection process, each candidate’s leadership potential, community involvement and accomplishments will be reviewed. Tuition for Leadership Wilmington is $1,500 and covers all expenses for the program.

If you are interested in learning more about your community, growing as a leader, giving back, learning new ways to get involved, and creating contacts and friends, join me in the 2018 class. I look forward to learning and working alongside you!

Natalie English
President & CEO
Wilmington Chamber of Commerce