10 emerging leaders finish training
By Peter H. Milliken
Ten emerging Mahoning Valley leaders celebrated completion of a 12-week neighborhood leadership- development course Tuesday at the Raymond John Wean Foundation offices.
They were the second group to complete the program, the first having completed it in 2013.
The foundation-sponsored Neighborhood Success: Cultivating Leaders program, enrolls people engaged in work through faith-based organizations, neighborhood associations, block watches, resident groups or other activist groups.
The Wean program seeks to cultivate informed and meaningful resident participation in decision-making processes affecting their communities.
One of this year’s program participants was Thomas M. Smith of Girard, a board member of Friends of the Mahoning River, an advocacy group for the environmental cleanup and recreational use of the river.
“I wanted to learn leadership skills so I could help our club out,” he said.
Smith said the course taught him to prioritize goals and focus his energies on the most important ones, rather than spreading his efforts across attempts to accomplish too many goals.
Tuesday’s event was billed not as a graduation, but as a “Share the Learning Experience” to celebrate participants’ completion of the training, said Jennifer Roller, foundation president.
“It’s really about next-level engagement and what they do with this information,” gleaned from the course, she said of the emerging leaders.
“If the community acknowledges and starts to take advantage of all the skills and training these folks have, I think we’ll be on fire to get some real work done” in community improvement activities, Roller said.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, who attended the event, said the course is a valuable tool for cultivating new leadership to replace leaders who have left the area.
“There’s always opportunity when we engage with young leaders and new leadership,” the mayor said.
Besides Smith, others who completed this year’s training program are: Sheila Brantley, Shaq Jones, Latoshia Miles, Rikki Queener, LaKita Williams and Tara Walker-Pollock, all of Youngstown; and Roger Matlock, William Phinisee, and Mary Smith (no relation to Thomas Smith), all of Warren.
Among other things, the course explores negotiation and conflict resolution, the dynamics of race and class and community-organization skills.