Chamber seeks Leadership St. Mary program participants
MORGAN CITY, La. -- St. Mary Parish residents looking to build ties in their community, strengthen their appreciation for all the parish has to offer as well as initiating and expanding relationships and horizons are encouraged by St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce President Donna Meyer to consider becoming part of the third Leadership St. Mary program that will start in January.
About a dozen graduates from the first two classes gathered at the Lake End Park lake houses Thursday evening to welcome approximately 30 interested persons in a meet and greet social to talk about the advantages of participating in the program.
After thanking Morgan City Mayor Frank Grizzaffi and city councilman Louis Tamporello Jr. for joining them, Leadership St. Mary committee chairman Jason Bailey said participation in the program leads to valuable networking and connections.
“You will meet people you might not have ever met like the mayor or councilmen,” he said as he pointed to the two Morgan City elected officials. “Or it could be the superintendent, sheriff or some other current or future leaders in the community.”
Another committee representative, Kristy Toups, said the program brings both the west and east side of the parish together, strengthening the community in a cooperative relationship.
“We are one parish,” she said. “The program is about meeting key people and learning the resources we have throughout the parish.”
The program’s stated purpose is to help recruit and develop leaders who will be active and involved in moving the parish forward with a focus on improving the business, educational, governmental and community environment of the parish.
Two former students briefly spoke of what they got from the program when they participated.
Suzanne Wilkes, a graduate of the last class and a teacher at University of Louisiana at Lafayette said the program is an opportunity “to expand your knowledge about what goes on in St. Mary Parish.”
“We all learned things we never knew about the parish,” Wiltz said. “Our pride in our home and in our parish grew.”
Nakisha Singleton said becoming a part of the first class of Leadership St. Mary was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
“This is an investment in yourself and in your parish,” Singleton said.
The program begins with a two-hour orientation/reception in January followed by a February two-day retreat where the participants are housed away from all distractions.
After the retreat, participants meet in a day-long session each month for eight sessions, with a graduation held after the sessions conclude. The committee is still working on developing the programming for the sessions, Meyer said.
After their graduation each class votes to design, develop and implement a class project for the following year, Meyer said. Each project is designed so that it will make a difference in the community while developing the graduates own leadership and interpersonal skills. Meyer said she was part of the first leadership class and their project was to design a machine shop class in the parish. That was accomplished by partnering with the South Central Louisiana Community College Young Memorial Campus in Morgan City.
“We will continue to grow the program and get better,” Meyer said. “We are adding value to the program with each successive class.”
Individual tuition is $750 with some need-based tuition assistance available. Since the program has a strict attendance policy, applicants must have the full cooperation and understanding of their employers and family before submitting an application.
Participation in Leadership St. Mary is open to persons with residence or employment in the parish. Participants are chosen from applicants by a selection committee which reviews the information on the program application.
The committee strives for a demographic cross section from the community from people active in business, education, the arts, religion, government, law, media, labor and others.
“If you are even thinking about this then you should do it,” Wiltz said.
Further information can be obtained by calling 985-384-3830.
The program promises that participants will learn:
—About characteristics of effective leaders.
—To understand your own leadership style.
—How to identify peoples’ strengths and to utilize those strengths.
—How to encourage cooperation between seemingly competing sides.
—Effective communication skills.
—Strategic planning and how to get positive results in your career, community and personal life.
—How you can improve your life and positively impact others.