Raging for centuries is the great philosophical debate as to whether a leader is born or made. Marrying the two schools of thought by choosing candidates with innate abilities and training them intensively, the Leadership Academy of Madison County (LAMC) has equipped 1,200 individuals to enact change in the community through servant leadership.
“The most beneficial part of the program is how it stretches you to want to become a better leader,” said Ellen Daniels, administrative assistant/recruiter at Anderson University and 2010 graduate of the Leadership Academy. “Learning about the other leaders around you is important, too. You assume they will respond like you would in a similar situation, but that is simply not true. Knowing that helps you deal with others around you.”
Begun in 1980 by a group of local leaders with sights set on bettering the image of this community, LAMC was an all-volunteer endeavor with Anderson University and the Chamber of Madison County as partners. Although the name of the organization has changed a couple of times and the scope has broadened to include all of Madison County, the mission to equip leaders for the future has remained a constant.
“I volunteered in the community and was at a place where I wanted to learn more about how to better use my skill set,” said Bobbette Snyder, executive director, who graduated from the program in 1991. “I thought it was important for me to learn the skill set I needed for leadership. This was a way to meet with others that had the same mindset.”
Only 36 participants are admitted each year to the nine-month sessions, which are hosted at various locations throughout Madison County to expose each community’s individual culture. Topics in the sessions are designed with three key priorities in mind: community awareness of assets and needs, understanding past and current issues of the community and developing a shared vision for the future, and how to build collaboration and consensus.
“I think that people don’t come with all the right answers,” said Snyder as she discussed why the academy is important. “We come from where we are and what we know. This is a way to open dialogues and hear other perspectives about the community. We find that when two or three or four people come together, the challenges aren’t insurmountable. The solutions are far greater than what I would come up with by myself.”
In addition to training community leaders, the LAMC has also created a similar Youth Leadership Academy for juniors in high school and partnered with local organizations, such as the Community Alliance to Promote Education (also known as CAPE), Young Professional Group of Madison County and Madison County Education Coalition.
— Emma Bowen Meyer for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.