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'Tomorrow' group puts spotlight on boosting leadership

Leadership potential — under the right circumstances — probably exists inside everyone. Terre Haute Tomorrow, a group of civic-minded volunteers hoping to improve the community over the next decade, wants to cultivate those latent leadership skills within the Wabash Valley.

A pair of recent surveys of local leaders found that a strong leadership development program is important to the success of the community. One survey was conducted by Rachel Leslie and Susan Turner of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the other by Terre Haute Tomorrow's steering committee.

As a result, Terre Haute Tomorrow established "Leadership Development" as one of its five "action teams," — committees within the organization dedicated to specific, high-priority goals. The leadership action team, chaired by B.J. Riley of the Tribune-Star and Tory Fears of the United Way of the Wabash Valley, also includes Leslie, Turner, Dottie King of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Beth Tevlin of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation and Jeanette Winchester, board chairwoman for the Chamber of Commerce.


An overarching goal of the action team is to improve communication and cooperation among those in the area already working to improve leadership skills. To that end, the action team plans to publish on the THT website a list of leadership openings on not-for-profit boards and a list of leadership training programs and seminars available in the area.

Another key goal of the action team is already firmly in place: The creation of a Leadership Institute to replace the former Leadership Wabash Valley program that closed up shop a few years ago. The institute will serve as a sort of engine to foster new leaders and help improve the skills of existing leaders, said Leslie, who established the WVLI along with Turner as part of their master's of leadership development degrees at the Woods.

When Wabash Valley government, not-for-profit, education and business leaders were asked whether the community could use a new leadership development program, "the answer was a resounding 'Yes,'" Leslie said.

The goal of the Institute, which graduated its first class of participants last fall, is to cultivate and enhance leadership skills in the Wabash Valley, Leslie said. It does this by identifying the leadership strengths participants already have, teaching practical leadership techniques and enhancing communication among local leaders, she said.

The WVLI is a "great focal point for leadership development in the community," said action team co-chairman Riley, who participated in the first Leadership Institute "cohort" last fall. The institute "really develops leadership skills," he said. Participants learn about conflict resolution, board governance, communication skills, motivation and more, he said.

Participants in the institute spend five days and five nights at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, which is a sponsor of the program along with Indiana State University, Ivy Tech Community College, Work One, the Tribune-Star, Hamilton Center, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Duke Energy, WTWO-TV, WAWV-TV and Tempo Furniture.

Spending five days together allows local leaders to build stronger relationships in ways that will improve cooperation and communication down the road, Leslie said. Each of the two classes offered each year will have a maximum of 15 participants, she noted.

Applications for the May 4-8 cohort are being accepted until 4 p.m. on March 31. They are available on the Institute's website at www.smwc.edu/wvli. For more information, visit the website or call Susan Turner at 812-535-5143. The cost of the participating in the class is $2,100.

From the Terre Haute Tribune-Star
Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2015
By Arthur Foulkes
812-231-4232 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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