It’s 10:18 in the morning. You’re a human resources professional dressed in full O.R. scrubs, standing next to an anesthesiologist. You watch as a steady hand administers a fine-tuned blend of prescription meds. A monitor tweets out vitals of the patient in front of you. A resident finishes prep. Nods up to the surgeon who flips a switch on a tiny drill that spins into a whir. The drill dances delicately — closer and closer to the patient’s skull. Everything slows down. Colors get brighter. Details more focused. You angle for a better view. This isn’t your typical Monday morning all-call —
For 39 years, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce has invested time, talent and treasure into developing local leaders through a program simply called — Leadership Gainesville.
What began as a handful of after-hours seminars has evolved into a year-long experience in which a diverse class of 40 local leaders (or soon to be leaders) conduct a broad survey of the community and gain an in-depth exposure to the issues and individuals that make Gainesville what it is today.
Love the public school system? You’ll get an up-close view of the people and politics that make it happen.
Frustrated with unpaved roads or city-county gridlock? You’ll engage directly with commissioners, municipal staffers and the business leaders impacted by their decisions.
Ever wonder who feeds the homeless, protects battered women, advocates for child victims or helps turn today’s at-risk youth into tomorrow’s community leaders?
Or wonder why more social services aren’t being provided? You’ll be face-to-face with the players involved.
The idea is that through working with a small group of other leaders and exposing you to some of the biggest obstacles and opportunities our community faces today, you’ll help incubate tomorrow’s answers.
Part of the experience is bonding with a group of your peers from the community. Part of it is designed to take you out of your comfort zone and put you into an elementary school classroom, or a squad car for an overnight ride-along, or even an operating room at 10:18 on a Monday morning observing brain surgery.
All of it is meant to make you a better leader.
The Director – Jan Patterson (a member of LG Class 25) is part tour-guide, part life-coach and all heart when it comes to the program she’s spearheaded for nearly a decade.
As the official Chamber representative, Jan’s job is to “lead leaders,” working with a small group of deans to map out and execute an individualized experience for each class.
“One of my favorite things about Leadership Gainesville is helping to make connections,” Patterson says. “The fruit of Leadership Gainesville is the fabric that it weaves. Each group is part of that, with their gifts and talents.”
The Deans – Three members of the previous class are assigned to each year’s group of 40 leaders. The deans help plan the programs, encourage the participants and maneuver the potholes based on lessons learned the year before.
The Class – The Chamber builds each class as a diverse mix from “business, law, religion, civic groups, the arts, minority organizations, education, healthcare, government, human services and volunteer organizations.”
It’s hard to measure the full impact of the program, but the list of Leadership Gainesville graduates over the last 39 years is lengthy.
Some impact occurs in unexpected ways. For example, Matt Davis, COO of North Florida Regional Medical Center, spent one of his LG sessions with volunteers from Gainesville Harvest, a local non-profit aimed at ending hunger in our area.
After seeing first-hand the group’s mission and, Matt directed NFRMC to donate the hospital’s extras to Gainesville Harvest.
The result? A four-fold increase in the number of meals the charity can serve to the hungry. Small connection. Big local change.
Class projects may be the easiest impact to measure. Several have morphed into ongoing fundraisers for local nonprofits, including Kids Start, the LGAA 5K, O2B-A-Kid Again and A Taste of Home.
Recent efforts include the Nonprofit Center of North Central Florida and the Youth e-Safety initiative, which helped secure a $400,000 law enforcement grant to keep kids safe from online predators.
The single largest byproduct of the LG experience is relationships. Participants are connected with classmates, deans, staff and local leaders in almost every area of our community.
There’s no doubt that the strength of a leader’s relationships — being able to pick up the phone or stop by the office or send a quick email to just the right person at just the right time — will ultimately make a community stronger and better.
Bottomline? This program increases your relational strength.
The Leadership Gainesville experience comes at a cost. Here’s a breakdown:
Financial — Each member of this year’s class will invest between $1100 (Chamber of Commerce member) and $1400 (non-members) to participate.
Many participants receive full or partial tuition from their employers, and the Leadership Gainesville Alumni Association offers a limited number of scholarships.
Time — The program runs from mid-August to late-May of the following year, with at least one group session a month and several all-day experiences (medical and educational shadows, law enforcement ride-alongs, etc.).
LG 39 ROSTER
- Erik Anderson, McLeod General Trades
- Ashley Bank, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
- Shareen Baptiste, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce/FloridaWorks
- S. Yvette Carter, GRU
- Channing Casey, Frankel Media Group
- Chris Coleman, Falcon Financial Management
- Kelly Douglass, Campus USA Credit Union
- Eric Drummond, Oelrich Construction
- Carole Duval, Info Tech, Inc.
- Byron Flagg, The Flagg Firm
- Ife Goodson, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Jane Harris, Capital City Bank
- Jamar Hebert, Cox Communications
- Kelly Henderson, Trend Management Solutions
- Amy Howard, Venture Realty of North Florida, Inc.
- Blair Janes, Brightway Insurance Agency
- Bob Krefting, Carr Riggs and Ingram, LLC
- Meghan Latorre, Info Tech, Inc.
- Troy Lauramoore, Charles Perry Partners
- Michael Lavoie, Windstream Communications
- Chantele Martin, UF College of Medicine
- Makaya McKnight, Florida Institute for Workforce Innovation
- Allison Megrath, Plum Creek
- Amber Miller, HOME Magazine
- Prem Paul Murrhee, Atrium of Gainesville
- Jackie Paris, McDonald’s
- Jane Parkin, Santa Fe College, Charles Perry Construction Institute
- Mike Powell, Mike Powell & Associates
- Douglas Pratt, TD Bank
- Jennifer Quinn, Junior League of Gainesville
- Mike Remer, Computer Care, LLC
- Greta Rice, GACAR
- Claire Rini, Sun Country Sports Center
- Daniel Rodkin, Santa Fe College
- Craig Sainz, Craig A. Sainz Chiropractic
- Rachel Stimler, The Education Foundation of Alachua County
- Carrie Tam, Florida Works/FIWI
- Meg TheLosen, Info Tech, Inc.
- Chris Towne, DRMP, Inc.
- John VanDuzer, James Moore & Co.,P.L.
- Jordan Webb, Gentle Dental
GET INVOLVED: With only 40 seats available each year, participation in Leadership Gainesville is competitive. Applicants are asked to describe past community involvement and share future plans for putting what they learn in the program to work.
Not already a standout in your workplace, civic group, non-profit or your church? Apply anyway — part of the program’s purpose is to identify and develop leaders on the rise.
The class is intentionally diverse and typically includes a wide-range of participants, including entrepreneurs, social service pros, law enforcement, marketers, managers, government workers, builders and more.
ON THE WEB: Learn more about Leadership Gainesville, including how and when to apply, and follow Class 39 through this yearlong experience.
NEXT MONTH: Leadership Gainesville Alumni Association