New Leadership Program in planning stages

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | 4:33 p.m. CDT; updated 1:32 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — A new Neighborhood Leadership Program aimed at better equipping citizens to become community leaders is in the works among city staff and might be offered as early as fiscal 2009.

The program was originally proposed to the City Council in fall 2007 in a group with other programs, but the council recommended splitting the programs to provide more in-depth planning.

The Neighborhood Leadership Program would teach participants about how local governments function, and then provide leadership training to encourage active participation in community affairs.

Cavanaugh Noce, head of the East Campus Neighborhood Association, is behind the general idea.

“It’s better to be more educated about these things than not,” Noce said.

The program will cost an estimated $1,500 to $3,000 but would have limited seating.

Leigh Britp, coordinator of the city’s Office of Volunteer Services, is planning the program. She said limited seating is necessary because the staff expects more people will be interested than the program can accommodate. Britp said screening will also ensure “we get a necessary cross-section of people from different neighborhoods.”

City Manager Bill Watkins, who has worked with Britp on the program, said allowing applicants on a first-come, first-served basis is another option.

“We don’t have anything concrete yet,” Britp said.

The Leadership Program probably will become a yearly program once in place, so citizens who miss their chance will have opportunities the following year, said Britp.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” neighborhood response specialist Bill Cantin said. “Offering this class would help level the playing field and get people more involved in government.”

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