- The Insider Newsletter
This spring, triumphant graduates of the University of Florida celebrated with their families while high school seniors prepared to fill their shoes. But Gainesville isn’t only home to the state’s oldest university; it’s also home to one of the state’s oldest leadership forums, and its graduates generated similar buzz in the business community. Graduates call it “LG,” and it’s become a right of passage of sorts for those in the know.
On May 23, the 38th class of Leadership Gainesville (LG) celebrated their graduation from an intense yearlong program that fosters community connections and leadership.
Sponsored by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, the program was created to build a resource of networked, community-aware members who make a positive impact in the area. It is known for significant time commitment—in addition to equally as significant connections and learning experiences.
LG, the fourth oldest “leadership forum” in the nation, allows students to network with those in the fields of business, law, religion, civic groups, the arts, minority organizations, education, health care, government, human services and volunteer organizations.
Jan Patterson, the director of Leadership Gainesville and a graduate of LG 25, sees the program as an invaluable tool in getting to know the community she serves. Her network of contacts, which includes past classmates, has helped her tremendously.
“I’ll just be sitting at my desk and run into a problem,” she says, “and I’ll think about who could help me out with it or open the right doors and I always think back to my LG class.”
In addition to daylong monthly meetings (in which topics include social services, education, public safety and medical issues), participants shadow a physician and an educator, ride along with a law enforcement officer (added in ’91), attend government meetings and travel to Tallahassee to meet with state legislators. Each class also collaborates on a class project over the course of the program—often a charitable initiative to benefit local children.
After graduating, participants have access to an extensive network that’s been in the making since 1974. Graduates have gone on to hold Gainesville and Alachua County public office and seats on Citizen Advisory Boards. Alumni include Florida House Representative Larry Cretul; City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins; County Commissioner Lauren Poe and former mayor Pegeen Hanrahan.
The class is traditionally made up of 40 diverse locals who already have established careers and local involvement. After a competitive application process, they are selected by a committee made up of former graduates.
Applications for LG 39 were due April 30. The class members will be announced next week in the Chamber of Commerce’s e-Journal.