Jennifer Neff, Human Resources Manager at Avon Protection Systems, tells about her experience with the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have completed the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program with the class of 2013/14, and now have the privilege to stay connected to the program through serving on the board of directors. So why live, work, play? This program defines how the Cadillac community lives, works and plays together. With that said, here is a quick snapshot of the program and how you can get involved.

What is the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program?

The program started in 1991, and since then, over 400 community members have completed it. It is a nine-month program dedicated to the development of leadership skills through education, awareness and networking relationships (and a whole lot of fun!). The curriculum focuses on full-day sessions designed to showcase many areas of the Cadillac community. These sessions provide first hand understanding of trends, challenges and issues facing the greater Cadillac area, with the intent of developing future community leaders who anticipate change and act decisively. The other critical component of the curriculum is the class project. Each year, the class partners with a community organization to complete a community service project, which is always a valuable asset to the community. For example, some of the projects that past classes and their community partners have accomplished include the development of Chamber “Spirit of the Community” award in 1997, purchasing defibrillators for all emergency vehicles in Cadillac and the surrounding townships in 2000, and the erection of an ADA compliant play structure in 2014.

How does the class choose their community project?

Leadership project suggestions are submitted in writing with a brief description, cost quote and community partner commitment prior to the class opening retreat every mid-September. New class members are encouraged well before their class starts to research and network to seek out project ideas. All submissions are reviewed and selection is based on the criteria of the Cadillac Leadership Service Project Guidelines with final approval of the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The goal of the service project is to identify a community need and come to a consensus on how to meet that need. Project activities give participants an opportunity to practice and enhance their leadership skills.

Who can be in the class?

Participants must live or work in Cadillac or the surrounding area and agree to attend the orientation, retreat and all monthly sessions. Often participants are identified and tuition is sponsored by their places of employment. There is no age limit and it does not matter how long someone has been associated with the Cadillac area. Participants just need a desire to grow personally, professionally, make lifelong business associations and friendships…and have a whole lot of fun!