Leadership Gainesville: Establishing connections to strengthen our community

Walk into the Leadership Gainesville (LG) office in the Chamber of Commerce Building on University and find the hidden realms of Gainesville with all of the lines to connect you.

According to Joe Johnson, LG Program Manager, leadership is knowing the people of the community, and using that to ‘create a better community by working hard for that community’ in a way that creates as much inclusion of all the community as possible.

Leadership Gainesville was built on the belief that the community requires strong leadership to thrive and prosper.  Now over forty years mature, Leadership Gainesville is a 10-month community program designed to develop the skills leaders need to excel.  The program includes a combination of in-depth seminars and skills development designed to enhance knowledge of leadership approaches.

Through LG, the Chamber brings people who have potential as leaders through businesses into a program to connect them to all of the assets possible here in Gainesville. Started to bring these different companies and institutions of the community together, the program is designed to help Gainesville as a city, and the people, to reach their highest potential.

Mr. Johnson explains that participants learn how policies, regulations, and government institutions interact so they know how to deal with this crucial intersection of people and institutions. Meeting one day each month of the program, it involves a very intense and strong embedding directly into the community, not looking from the view of classes.

Sally Lawrence, a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones Investments went through this program twenty years ago and still remembers shadowing a physician through his rounds and learning the difficulties they face. Participants are exposed to a wide number of sectors of the community, and the ‘benefits of seeing behind the scenes such a wide variety of different businesses, organizations, and institutions’ was eye opening. She added, the communication lines, friendships, and the understanding of the breadth of our community still benefit her today.

Of course in Gainesville, the major educational institutions are seen to be the University of Florida and Santa Fe Community College. A thorough connection is made with them, and these future leaders see how these institutions lead Gainesville from within the community.

Reaching into the high school levels, including the School Board and the schools themselves can be eye opening for many. Through LG, connections established between leaders and the next generation benefit everyone. The leaders see how to reach those who will follow them, and the students see and learn to know those who can show them how to be leaders themselves.

William McElroy, Principal of Loften High School, describes the relationship with Leadership Gainesville as a ‘feedback loop’ which benefits both the students who meet and talk with business leaders on a face to face basis, but the business people also see the next generation as human beings with talents which will add value to both their company, but also the community.

This Leadership program goes on to embed these new leaders in Shands, the Police Department, NF Hospital, LifeSouth, and shadowing a physician through their day. Knowing what these institutions and individuals go through creates a bond otherwise nonexistent.

Companies and organizations who would like their employees to participate in this program can contact the Chamber of Commerce for more information, or simply contact Joe Johnson at 352-334-7120 or [email protected]

Or better yet, come down to 300 E. University Avenue and get connected to all the best in Gainesville. Encourage your business to grow in this tried and true method for outreach and development.

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