The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce championed the creation of a local leadership training program for mid to upper-level business managers 30 years ago. The purpose of the Chamber offering such a program was to encourage business participation on boards, commissions and to be more active in public policy development, including running for public office. The focus was a holistic approach to the community with major emphasis on how all aspects of the community come together to form a unique culture. Since its inception over 340 individuals have graduated from the Mesa County Leadership Program. Many of them have gone on to serve on nonprofit and local government boards and serve the community in a more visible way.
“We are proud to bring this program to our members and the community at large,” noted Diane Schwenke, President and CEO. “It is one of the ways we help ensure that a business perspective is brought to our community dialogues and discussions. It helps promote our community with a behind the scenes learning approach.”
Benefits not originally anticipated in terms of the value of the training to the workplace have also emerged. Stuart Hall, Entrada CEO (class of 2014) said, “The Mesa County Leadership Program opened my eyes to the inner workings of Mesa County and to the people that make our government function. I was able to make connections and build relationships with other leaders throughout the community. It was an excellent class that helped to shape my professional development.”
While there is value in all of the classes, the Annual Trip to the State Capitol is a perennial favorite. Without a doubt, it offers class participants the chance to become active in state public policy development. Ken Brownlee, Mesa County Assessor (class of 2015) recently shared this perspective on his use of his Mesa County Leadership experience. “It’s not only an opportunity to connect with our own legislators but with others across the State including those with opposing ideas. We get a chance to visit, talk and share perspectives if only for a short while. I am still in touch with some legislators from the front range who I met through the program two years ago. I was able in just a few minutes to make a connection which led to an invitation for a phone call and changes in legislation. This opportunity is invaluable in a republic, our form of government.”
Businesses and organizations have also used the program to acclimate new employees from outside the region as well. Elizabeth Fogarty, Director of Visit Grand Junction (class of 2019), makes note of how this has helped her. “Being new to the area, the Mesa County Leadership Program has proven to be an invaluable experience and has provided me a thorough understanding of the region.”
Applications for the next Mesa County Leadership Program will be accepted April 1st through June 15th. Class size is limited to no more than 25 participants and those chosen are expected to attend all ten sessions, most of which are a day long.