Twenty-six individuals representing businesses and organizations from throughout Chautauqua County gathered in Bellinger Hall on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution in February to complete a two-and-a-half-day retreat designed to identify each person's leadership style, build new relationships with other community leaders and launch nine months of leadership development and community awareness opportunities.
Now in its 22nd year, Chautauqua Leadership Network is a not-for-profit organization designed to identify, recruit, train and network area professionals. To date, about 500 county residents have participated in the program, which was founded to replenish an aging population of invested leaders by developing effective community leaders who will continue to address the challenges and opportunities facing the county.
Class members, most of whom have been nominated by their employer to participate in the program, arrive at the retreat with little information about the weekend's activities. Through a series of hands-on activities, class members learn more about themselves and each other and begin a discussion of the values of the different leadership styles and how and when those styles can be most effective.
Members of Chautauqua Leadership Network’s Class of 2014 during their retreat weekend in February. Top row, from left: retreat facilitator Larry Robinson of Partners and Robinson; Michael Saar of Jamestown Board of Public Utilities; Holly Griffith of Buffamante, Buttafaro, Whipple PC; Charles Cornell of SUNY Fredonia; Scott Nuccio of Integrated Benefit Solutions; and Adam Dolce of Cassadaga Job Corps Academy. Second row, Mary Jo Dorler of SUNY Fredonia; Rachael Coon of SUNY Fredonia; Michael Restivo of Dawson Metal Company; Ida Klahn of Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation; C. Daniel Smith of Nestle Purina Pet Care; Benjamin Lindquist of Chautauqua Striders; Michelle Johnson of WCA Services Corporation; Tonya Himes - Lobello of Northwest Savings Bank; and Elisabeth Rankin, New York State Assembly. Kneeling: Jillian Kaczar of United Way of Southern Chautauqua County; Dawn Eckenrode of SUNY Fredonia; Roby Reger of SUNY Fredonia; Kelly Szymanowicz of The Resource Center; Laura Anderson of Jamestown Community College; and Vanessa Weinert of Chautauqua Institution. Sitting: Brittany Beckstrom of Chautauqua Institution; Magdalena Dye of Lake Shore Savings Bank; Jill Colburn of Jamestown Community College; Gina Bloomquist of Jamestown Area YMCA; and Tammy Anderson of Jamestown Board of Public Utilities.
Led by facilitator Larry Robinson of Partners and Robinson of Williamsville, with the assistance of several Chautauqua Leadership Network alumni, the retreat follows a rigorous schedule of self-assessment, conversation, group presentations and experiential activities.
"The activities kept both our minds and bodies moving at all times," said class member Ben Lindquist, executive director of Chautauqua Striders. "We were intellectually and creatively challenged to push beyond our comfort zone. I look forward to what the rest of the year brings."
Scott Nuccio of Integrat-ed Benefit Solutions said, "I learned more about leadership in three short days at the retreat than I have in my entire working career."
Following its February retreat, the network's Class of 2014 was welcomed to the organization with a reception March 8 at Shaggy's in Bemus Point.
The group has now begun monthly sessions of mostly half-day workshops covering such topics as business and economic development, boardsmanship and ethics. The curriculum also in-cludes group projects that allow class members to gain a broad knowledge of the assets of the Chautauqua County community.
The network's Class of 2014 will graduate in the fall. Members can remain active in the organization by volunteering for various Chautauqua Leadership Network events and through service on committees or the board of directors.
Alumni are invited to participate in class workshops during the year and often share news of employment opportunities and community fundraisers with the larger Chautauqua Leader-ship Network group of professionals.
The organization also hosts a community Leader of the Year Award recognition dinner to honor an area leader, business or organization.
"Our members build relationships beyond each one's own professional discipline," said Pene Hutton, the network's executive director. "CLN gives them the opportunity to not only hone their own leadership skills, but to share ideas and opportunities with one another. One thing they all have in common is a commitment to make Chau-tauqua County a better place to work and live."
For more information about Chautauqua Leader-ship Network, visit the organization's website at www.chautauqualeadership.org.