Since '93, group has focused on developing leaders

NEIGHBORS

February 14, 2002|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IF YOU WANT to make a difference in your community, get in line.

Leadership Anne Arundel, a nonprofit organization dedicated to community leadership, has been attracting applicants to its original "flagship" classes on county and state government and leadership skills since they began in 1993.

Two graduates have gone on to serve on the County Council, and others help communities such as Severna Park.

"The program was exciting from the very beginning," says George T. Moran, a past president of the Severna Park Chamber of Commerce who graduated from the first flagship program in 1994. "After starting my own insurance business from scratch 25 years ago and focusing on business and family, I had just found time to start giving back to my community."

"I could see the potential, the subtle power that comes out of a program involving people from so many different walks of life," says Moran, who owns George T. Moran Inc. on Ritchie Highway in Severna Park. "It gives you an interesting way of looking at things. Knowing how the county works gives you the tools."

Inspired by a program introduced more than 40 years ago in Philadelphia, Leadership Anne Arundel has expanded beyond its original flagship program to include the Executive Leadership Series and the Neighborhood Leadership Academy. The three have produced nearly 400 graduates, says director Griff Hall.

Each spring, applications are reviewed for the flagship program, which begins in September. The classes are not limited to people in positions of leadership. Participants come from business, government and nonprofit organizations. Classes of about 45 meet once a month for nine months at locations throughout the county to examine local government, education, law and public safety, health and human services, economic development, the environment, and culture and the arts.

What happens when this learning experience is over?

"You're part of a community of leaders," Hall says. "Our expectation is that graduates become involved in the community. Someone might be a volunteer on a board or serve a nonprofit in some capacity for the betterment of the community.

He says the two graduates elected to the County Council are current members Pamela G. Beidle of Linthicum and Barbara D. Samorajczyk of Annapolis.

JoAnn Lamp, a member of the Class of 2002, had been looking for volunteer opportunities since her retirement after more than 30 years as a government affairs officer in the insurance industry.

"In my own working experience, I always wished I'd had more time to give back," the Arnold resident says.

When she signed up for a daylong workshop on nonprofit organizations offered by Leadership Anne Arundel at Anne Arundel Community College, she was impressed with the organization and its presentation.

"I was interested in getting to better know the area, even if I had lived here for 20 years," she says. "When you're working, you don't have time to go as deeply as you might want to."

In 1998, the flagship program was joined by an Executive Leadership Series designed to serve senior level executives and officers of mid-size to large companies and organizations. The course, which includes four sessions over two months, provides participants with an overview of the county, its leaders and issues, says Hall.

The newest offering, the Neighborhood Leadership Academy, began in 1999. This course is conducted from September through June with the intent of helping people gain the skills to make a difference in their neighborhoods.

"There is a bond among members who've taken the classes," Moran says. "The networking between graduates helps make things happen. It's powerful when 300 to 400 involved and interested people, who have made a commitment of time and money, demonstrate their involvement."

The cost of the flagship program is $2,750; the Executive Leadership Series costs $1,750.

The neighborhood program is not tuition-based, Hall says.

"We typically award numerous scholarships," he says. "Our goal is that any deserving applicant has the opportunity to do the program."

Applications from the public are being accepted through May 1 for the flagship and neighborhood programs, which begin in September. Applicants for the executive series, which begins in April, should call immediately, Hall says.

Information: 410-571-9798, or www.leadershipaa.org.

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