City considers leadership program

Saturday, November 3, 2007 | 4:02 p.m. CDT; updated 5:56 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Class will be in session next year for the Columbia Community Leadership Program, pending the approval of the City Council.

The goal of the program will be “to provide training to current and potential leaders on the city’s boards, commissions, neighborhood associations and non-profit organizations,” City Manager Bill Watkins said in a memo to the council.

The free program would consist of six sessions on six different nights, with each session lasting between two and three hours, Watkins wrote.

Titles for the sessions would be: Introduction to the City of Columbia, Developing Your Leadership Skills, Navigating Local Government, Development Issues, Grassroots Efforts: How Citizens Can Make a Difference and Developing Resources: People and Funds.

Cavanaugh Noce, president of the East Campus Neighborhood Association, said the program might be a good way for community members to learn “things that you’re not going to bump into and you don’t know.”

As active as Noce is in East Campus, for example, he wasn’t aware until recently that half of East Campus sewers are private. Noce said he picked up that piece of information in a Columbia Daily Tribune news story, and he hoped the leadership program might provide citizens with that kind of information.

The program would be geared toward “current and future board and commission members, neighborhood leaders and others in the community with an interest in local government,” Watkins said in the memo. “Class size is limited, and applicants will be screened by a committee made up of citizens and staff.”

Pat Kelley, vice president of the Ridgeway Neighborhood Association, said she appreciates the idea behind the leadership class. But “I don’t know that the way this is conceived is going to be all that helpful.”

When Ridgeway started its neighborhood association, Kelley said, “There was no one to go to for this (type) of information.”

“It would be wonderful if we could get that information to a lot of citizens, but a lot of citizens aren’t going to go to six classes. It would be helpful to have that information in one night.”

Kelley also questioned the plan to screen applicants.

“My sense is that a committee screening applications, the idea that there’s a class that certain people are going to be allowed in and others are not, that’s just not what citizenship is about,” Kelley said.

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