December 14, 2010
Leadership program marks 35 years
The Chamber’s Leadership Cincinnati is the preeminent leadership program in the region. Since 1977, more than 1,400 men and women have graduated from the program, many going on to lead large corporations, new startup businesses, social service agencies or arts organizations that define the identity of our community. And along the way, Leadership Cincinnati has established itself as one of Cincinnati USA’s most important talent development initiatives.
Every September, 50 to 52 community leaders start the 10-month program intended to stimulate concern for the quality of life in the region using Agenda 360 as a guide. The goal is to prepare participants for more active involvement in public affairs.
The Leadership Cincinnati curriculum is focused around three themes: community leadership, regionalism and innovation. Each class breaks into five or six teams that are tasked with developing and implementing projects that will contribute to the quality of life in the region.
Successful projects range from Crayons to Computers (Class 19); Power Pack (Class 31), a program to ensure that more than 1,000 low income students have something to eat on weekends; and Flush No Drugs (Class 33), encouraging citizens to properly dispose of old prescription drugs and protect our water supply.
One of the most successful projects was the Charitable Pharmacy at St. Vincent de Paul (Class 27). Since it opened in 2006, the pharmacy has dispensed 70,000 free prescriptions worth $7 million to needy Cincinnatians. And on Oct. 7, the League of Women Voters awarded its Daniel J. Ransohoff Award (named for a member of Class 1) to the team.
It’s clear that Leadership Cincinnati has had a significant impact not only on the participants, but the community. So what makes Leadership Cincinnati so successful?
“We work hard to make sure that the curriculum is current and relevant to the needs of our region, and gives participants opportunities to interact with leaders from every walk of life,” says program director Dan Hurley. “But the most important resource that we provide is assembling each year a class of amazingly talented and diverse people who will support each other and work together for the good of our community for the rest of their lives.”
Each June, the admissions committee reviews the large pool of candidates of senior leaders who have already demonstrated significant success within their own companies and professions. The committee’s task is to make sure that the class reflects a broad diversity of personal backgrounds and experiences.
For example, Class 34 includes the managing partner of a major local law firm, a major accounting firm, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank and the president of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the executive director of the Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library, a public-interest lawyer who is leading the effort to change fair-hiring policies, the president of Midwest Latino and the executive director of Over-the-Rhine Community Housing.
In 2009, Class 33 included immigrants from Bermuda, China, Greece, Japan, Mexico and Nigeria.
Perhaps two of the strongest indications of the lasting impression the program has on its participants are the alumni association and steering committee. Nearly 70 graduates volunteer each year for the steering committee to help plan the curriculum. For the last two years, Kevin Canafax of Fidelity Investments has chaired the steering committee, guiding a process of updating the curriculum. And the alumni association provides programs that allow graduates to expand their networks to members of all classes.
The formal application process for Class 35 will open in early February 2011 and be due Monday, May 2. For more information, visit leadershipcincinnati.com.