By Sally Pyne
There are a few experiences in our lives that we can call pivotal. You know, those things that make you realize—sometimes later—that had you not done that, your life might be different. I can say that Leadership McLean County, a program done through the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, was just such an experience for me. It is an eight-month program that develops and cultivates your skills, awareness and engagement in your community through intentional learning experiences. The curriculum is amazing, with days that cover agriculture, education, health care, government and other topics. As a “townie” I really thought that there wasn’t much for me to learn when I went through the program in 2003. Was I ever wrong!
I learned so much about our county that I didn’t know. I was introduced to the people in the various roles that make a difference in our community and was able to learn how things really worked, and what there was to offer in terms of community service. I’m confident that had I not gone through Leadership Mclean County I never would have had the nerve to run for office. Employers that want to cultivate talent and provide professional development to their “diamonds in the rough” can invest $1,200 to do so. Limited scholarships are also available.
When I am asked what I one thing I got out of this experience, I always answer that I learned “followership.” I have been studying this topic over the years and was able to do several presentations on my thoughts. A good leader is not effective if they have no followers. A good follower must have confidence in and trust their leader. However, the largest take-away for me, and literally most of the Leadership McLean County graduates, is the opportunity to meet and network with 30 or so other ambitious leaders. These folks are the future of our county. Life-long friendships are forged. While the program only meets every other Friday from from October through April, the days spent are intense and filled with valuable information. The people you have in your class are intelligent and thoughtful and make you a better person—let alone a better leader.
Each class completes a project in the community. Those are now called “Leaders on Loan” projects whereby a small group from the leadership class works with a community organization on a project they have submitted. Those applications will be available to agencies very soon. Normal Township was chosen to work with an excellent leadership group last year who studied the best possible use for our ARC kitchen in Normal.
Applications for this program are due May 18. You can access it on-line at www.leadershipmclean.org. I have joked in the past about graduates “drinking the Kool-Aid.” It’s true. Once you complete the program you will be a better person and a believer. Check it out!
Dr. Sally Pyne is a lifelong resident of Normal. She is a retired educator and served both Illinois State University and Lincoln College Normal. Her husband Ed owns the Normalite newspaper as well as seven other weeklies in McLean County.
The opinions expressed within WJBC’s Voices are solely those of the Voices’ author, and are not necessarily those of WJBC or Cumulus Media, Inc.