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Editorial: Local leadership program strives to make difference

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Every year for the past two decades, residents from across Johnson County have spent months learning about local history and commerce, learning and practicing leadership skills and implementing service projects that have addressed issues of local concern.

Leadership Johnson County is in its 20th year and continues training new generations of leaders, teaching people ways they can make Johnson County better.

Kate Taylor, assistant director of Leadership Johnson County, said, “It’s always important for leaders to continue to grow, whether you’re a leader in your home as a stay-at-home mom or leading an organization such as a hospital or school district. Sometimes you get so busy you don’t take that time. Leadership Johnson County is a great opportunity to do that.”

The program was founded in 1995 after area residents expressed concern about the direction local agencies, government and business would go in the future. The class meets once a month, focusing on a different aspect of leadership each time. Participants learn how to lead meetings, to identify the best people to help with a particular job and how to organize a team.

“We strive to help educate people about issues going on in the community and how they can plug in to solve those problems,” Taylor said.

One of the requirements of the program is to break into small groups and pick a community project. Members of this year’s class have spent the past five months working on ways to improve their communities.

Some have been focused on helping a local women’s sanctuary create a shelter house and stock its food pantry. Others have envisioned a pet show for children that will benefit dogs and cats without homes. Increasing youth volunteerism and building life skills for the underprivileged also has been a focus.

Throughout the years, some of the projects have been one-time affairs. Others have become annual traditions or ongoing endeavors for local organizations. All of them have made a difference in the community.

More importantly, though, the participants in Leadership Johnson County have gone on to help dozens of local organizations through their enhanced skills, truly a significant investment.

We salute this year’s class of Leadership Johnson County. Their projects show passion, commitment and creativity and are certain to have an impact.

And we are equally confident that the graduates will continue to play significant roles in the community’s nonprofit sector for many years to come.

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