In 2013, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce wanted to take its adult community leadership program, Leadership Dawson, to the next level.

“Previously, the program consisted primarily of presentations from local officials in a classroom setting,” said S. Christie Haynes, president of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce. “We felt like a personal leadership development component was missing, and we also wanted to make sure the participants bonded with each other and did not just sit in a classroom.”

To accomplish those goals, Leadership Dawson reached out to the Fanning Institute and its Community Leadership Program curriculum.

“Fanning’s curriculum gets people to interact with each other on different topics and learn about themselves when it comes to areas like their leadership styles, decision making process, and conflict management style,” said Carol Tyger, committee chairperson for Leadership Dawson, who also noted that the program is completely run by volunteers who have graduated from Leadership Dawson and are active Chamber of Commerce members.

Joan Talley, 2016 Leadership Dawson graduate, said the program helped her grow as a leader.

“It pushed me to be more out front in my career, and it really helped me learn how to address different issues,” said Talley.

Also, the institute adapted the program to meet Leadership Dawson’s goals, Haynes said, facilitating the opening retreat at the Len Foote Hike Inn, where the leadership class members actually hike into the facility.

“An instant bond forms among the class members,” Haynes explained. “Fanning faculty lead teambuilding exercises that engage the participants and build the relationships necessary to have honest conversations about the community later on in the program. They get to know our community, and they encourage honest conversations among the class members.”

The Fanning Institute’s Community Leadership Program curriculum and increasing engagement in leadership programs are just of two of the topics that will be highlighted at the University of Georgia’s third annual Community Leadership Conference, scheduled for Feb. 22-23, 2018, at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

Organized by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, this year’s conference theme is “Inspired to Lead.”

“Creating a culture of strong, action-oriented leadership inspires positive change in communities,” said Fanning Institute Director Matt Bishop. “Each year, the Community Leadership Conference brings those individuals at the forefront of developing that culture in their communities together to share ideas and information that energizes and excites attendees to increase their own community’s leadership development efforts.”

This year, the conference will feature workshops that follow one of four conference tracks. Along with the conference title track, there will be tracks focused on community leadership development innovations, best practices in community leadership programming, and leadership in nonprofit organizations.

Along with the workshops, attendees will hear keynote addresses, including from Rodney Bullard, vice president of community affairs for Chick-Fil-A, Inc. and executive director of the Chick-Fil-A Foundation.

“Our speakers understand the of importance of civic engagement in communities, and we look forward to hearing their perspectives on developing community leaders who are engaged and involved at all levels,” said Bishop.

Also during the conference, the Fanning Institute will award the second annual Innovations in Community Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals or programs who have moved beyond traditional community leadership programming.

For more information on the 2018 Community Leadership Conference, click here.