Leadership Marion County gearing up for 21st session

With the application deadline less than two weeks away, Leadership Marion County is continuing its search for class participants. The last day for applications, organizers said, is Friday, Jan. 30.

For 21 years the program continues to be designed for current and future leaders.

"I wouldn't have felt comfortable doing the leadership things I am doing now without this program," said Nicole Suderman, a 2007 graduate and Leadership Marion County board president.

"For me," she said, "Leadership Marion County was a great networking opportunity. I know more people and I gained a better perspective of the issues facing others in our county."

Substantiating the importance of these classes, Angela Lange, Marion city clerk and a 2008 graduate, said she would definitely recommend the class.

Born and raised in the area, Lange said she particularly liked the servant-leadership style of teaching.

“Leading to serve others is the core of the curriculum,” she said, “and it’s not always the person in charge, but it’s about helping everyone else and leading them.”

She also said she wanted to take the classes to learn more about the neighboring communities in the county.

As for taking on leadership roles, Lange said she is now Web master for the City Clerk Municipal Finance Officers Association and is vice-president on the Leadership Marion County board.

Rick Roberts, Marion County Extension agent and a 2006 graduate, said there were multiple reasons for participating in the course.

“I got to know people a lot more through interaction (provided by the class),” he said.

Roberts also talked about the servant-style of leadership.

He said the idea behind it is to take on more of a helping role and identify those special talents others possess.

“We did some traveling around the county and looked at the different attractions other communities in our county have,” Roberts said.

For Roberts, the experience of Leadership Marion County was an eye-opener.

“It afforded me the opportunity to pay more attention to what our communities have to offer,” he said.

The coursework includes 10 classes held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first and third Thursday of each month starting Feb. 5 and continuing through June.

The only exception is that one session is a full day on Feb. 19, which is set aside for a Topeka trip to experience a legislative session and tour the state capitol.

The other full day is May 19 in Marion for Hometown Competitiveness. This session gives participants knowledge on the framework for rural communities by helping them identify reachable goals and strategies focused on the reversing rural decline. Graduation is at 7 p.m. June 28 and includes a dinner.

The main requirement to participate is that a person be a Marion County resident or an employee of a Marion County business.

“Tuition is $175 and, in most cases, is sponsored by employers,” Suderman said.

Tuition scholarships are available on a case-by-ease basis, she said, but because Marion County is a small community, it cannot afford to offer many of these.

The classes include diverse topics of discussion to include business, education, agriculture, public policy, health, economics and government, Suderman said.

“We also try to select participants from each of the communities within the county,” she said.

Suderman said those who graduate from this program are more educated, energized and equipped to take on leadership responsibilities in their job and Marion County.

For more information, call Suderman at 947-5702.

Leadership Marion County applications are available at Hillsboro City Hall, 118 E. Grand; Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, 109 S. Main; Marion City Hall, 208 E. Santa Fe or Hillsboro Free Press, 116 S. Main.

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