Chamber’s Leadership Auburn program thriving

Deadline nears to sign up for 2011-12 running
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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It’s been around more than a decade and the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Auburn program is more popular than ever. So far the chamber has filled requests for 40 applications for the 2011-12 running, CEO Bruce Cosgrove said recently. The program’s monthly sessions from October to June can accommodate 25. Cosgrove attributes the popularity to a couple of things. “No. 1, I think it is the fact that we’ve had 12 successful years and we’ve got 258 alumni of the leadership program,” he said. “Except for the few who have left the community, those (graduates) of our program go out there and they become ambassadors, so to speak. They believe in the program and the value of what it brings to them personally and to the community and so they recommend it to the community.” Class projects have also helped spread the word. “… The class actually goes out and constructs something or completes a study,” Cosgrove said. “That has drawn a broader community awareness of the program as they’ve seen the leadership class accomplish these projects.” Past projects include installing a bench on High Street, building a kiosk, a new sign for the Chamber of Commerce and building a leadership alumni walkway. “Last year’s class took a serious look at the potential for having an electronic information kiosk (computer touch screen) with information on restaurants, lodging and points of interest, hiking trails and things so see and do,” Cosgrove said. The value of Leadership Auburn goes beyond the actual project. “You’ve brought 25 people together who didn’t know each other,” he said. “They’re working together on how to raise money, how to accomplish the project. There’s the element of planning and working on logistics — working with someone to develop the plans if it involves brick and mortar — and ultimately completing the project, all along the way learning to manage the project and work with other people. It’s where leadership kind of proves its mettle.” Auburn’s program is similar to others in cities throughout the nation. “Community leadership programs generally have a basic format of providing citizens with a behind-the-scenes look at how their community functions — who are the people and entities that make the community tick, how do things get done and what’s the process,” he said. “As a result, they come away with a much better understanding of what it takes to get something done in the community as a volunteer, or run for public office.” The program begins with an orientation and retreat in October. Subsequent sessions cover the history of Auburn, state and local government, law enforcement and public safety, community planning and development, health and human services, education and technology, community utilities (water, power recreation), arts and culture and media relations. It is open to everyone in the community. There’s a brief application to fill out and submit. “If we have more applicants than capacity, they are on a waiting list for next year,” he said. For Mary Ball, a graduate of the most recent class, the feeling of being part of a team was something that really resonated. “(It was) most definitely that your opinions matter,” she said. “We were all able to voice our thoughts and feelings and that mattered. We were made to feel that we were a part of it.” Ball, a 30-year Auburn resident and retired state of California employee, said the experience was everything she expected, and more. “I got to meet some really interesting people from (many) aspects of the Auburn community,” she said. “I got an opportunity to see the inner workings of different Auburn agencies, which is what I wanted to know.” Ron Schwab, First Choice Business Brokers, signed up because he was new to Auburn and wanted to get involved in community service. “I felt the best way to do that was get out and meet influential people in the community and thought (Leadership Auburn) would be a good venue to do that,” he said. It exceeded Schwab’s expectations. “The thing that I enjoyed most was making a lot of new friends,” he said. “What I got I out of it was a better understanding of the Auburn community from kind of a 360-degree view … It was a very, very broad perspective of our community and I really appreciated it.” One direct result of participating in the program was that Schwab was tapped to be sponsorship chairman of this year’s Amgen Auburn. “I ran a team that raised the money to bring (the bicycle race) to Auburn,” he said. He’s also become a member of the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital foundation board. He’s on the committee for the Auburn Community Golf Classic and recently joined Auburn Rotary. “I just love living in Auburn. It is a wonderful community,” he said. “It is enhanced in many ways by the all the volunteer efforts that go on. I joined (Leadership Auburn) to find out where to put my efforts and really got a good view of that.” ------------ Leadership Auburn Deadline to apply: Friday, Aug. 19 Tuition: $695. Non-refundable fee of $25 must accompany application For more information: Call the Auburn Chamber of Commerce at (530) 885-5616