Great Grants: Leadership Lorain County
Take a look at some of the good things happening around Lorain County and, chances are, an alumnus of Leadership Lorain County is involved. From judges to mayors, non-profit directors to school superintendents, marketing managers to engineers, this 19-year-old organization now boasts over 600 graduates of the 10-month long program. “In a recent survey, we have discovered that our alumni give an average of 100 hours of service to the community per year,” said Gail Stumphauzer, Executive Director of Leadership Lorain County. “The volunteer service is of the highest quality because our alumni are skilled, knowledgeable and committed to the community.”
Leadership Lorain County kicks off each class year with an afternoon orientation and picnic with alumni in August and then an intense 2-day retreat held in September. The Class of 30 to 40 individuals then meets monthly on the first Wednesday to learn more about Lorain County and the issues affecting it. These session days are planned by class members and are based around one general theme. For example, a day might focus on Law and Government, or on Economic Development, Arts and Culture, Health, or History. Leadership classes have visited the steel mill, metroparks, wineries, schools, and just about any other landmark in our community that you can think of. The year then culminates with graduation in May where the new class joins the ranks of Leadership alumni.
Several years ago, Leadership added a mid-year retreat to provide further focus and expand on the community service element of the program – the class project. “The class project is one of the most important pieces of the Leadership experience,” says Stumphauzer. “Each year, the class must choose at least one way to give back to our community, and they usually choose 2 or 3 projects.” Past class projects have included the formation of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Lorain County, the creation of the Golden Apple Awards to salute area teachers, Habitat for Humanity projects, a county-wide calendar on LorainCounty.com, and many, many more. The Class of 1995 chose to change the Leadership experience by including high school students as part of the class. Now, at least 4 students from area schools participate annually as equals to the adults in the program.
Leadership Lorain County and the Community Foundation have enjoyed a long relationship. Leadership was created as an initiative of the Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County in 1985 with a $6,000 grant, and the program was housed in the Foundation’s offices for several years. In 2003, the Foundation approved a $15,000 grant to support general operations for the Leadership Program and another $10,000 as a challenge grant for alumni dues. The Community Foundation is also an active participant in Leadership Lorain County, and nine current and former staff members are Leadership graduates. But the relationship does not end there. The Community Foundation also holds an Agency Endowment Fund for Leadership, established by those who believe that Leadership Lorain County will build leaders from our community well into the future and encourage them to leave their mark on Lorain County forever.