My Leadership Fort Wayne Experience

When it comes to professional development, there are so many options that it can be hard to pick what’s best. Certifications, seminars, etc. Who knows what’s most effective? I’ve had my eyes on Leadership Fort Wayne (LFW) for a while and decided the time was right to make the commitment and seek this development opportunity.

LFW is a nine-month curriculum hosted by Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. (GFW Inc.) with nine full-days of programming, class projects, participation in community activities, opportunities for hands-on experiences and an internship on a not-for-profit board of directors. Area leaders and experts provide information about the community and its history, institutions, socio-economic composition and current issues. The goal of the program is to train, prepare and inspire individuals to positively impact greater Fort Wayne-Allen County through meaningful engagement.

My personal goal was to further expose myself to other leaders and to learn even more about the community. I consider myself to be connected and involved, through my personal engagements and, fortunately, also through work. However, everyone I know that has participated in the program has discovered even more about the community and made new connections. I believe personal and professional development is key to success. Leadership Fort Wayne was the next step for me.

We did so many activities and tours over the nine months, it was hard to pick out my favorites. One of our hands-on community experiences was a tour of the Electric Works campus. It was very cool! The tour reminded me of one of my favorite shows on the History Channel, Life After People. We also shadowed a community leader. I got my first pick—Nancy Jordan, Sr. Vice President Individual Annuity Operations at Lincoln Financial Group (LFG). Her team was incredible. I learned so much about LFG and that they have a HUGE presence in Fort Wayne. Nancy graciously scheduled coffee with me after the tour. I’ve always admired her as a female community leader. Coffee and conversation with her was such a treat! It even ended with a hug at the end. Because of LFW, I was afforded these amazing experiences.

Some of my key takeaways:
• Of about 50 classmates, I only knew two going in to it. I met a ton of new people!
• I could listen to Dr. Dave Johnson, who facilitated multiple sessions, speak on anything. He’s a very engaging speaker and covers teamwork topics from a brain development perspective, exploring why people behave in the ways they do.
• I enjoy assessments! We took the StrengthsFinder assessment and Skillscope assessment. It’s fun to learn about yourself.
• Personally, I learned a lot from the Early Childhood Education day. Since I’m expecting my first child, this topic was very timely!
• I am so fortunate to have grown up being exposed to many of our community offerings as a child. That exposure spurred my interest in getting involved in the community after college. I am also very lucky (bad pun, I know) to get to work with many incredible community projects as part of my job.
• Along these same lines, I am shocked at how little exposure to the community some people had. For example, several people in the class had never been to the Embassy. THE EMBASSY!
• GFW Inc. did an amazing job of getting us all over the city, touring so many community assets and having incredible speakers that represented so many areas of our community. I loved that the program days were held in a different place every time. For example, many people had not been south of downtown much and got to see more of Fort Wayne for our Human Services day at The League (located near Anthony & Paulding).
• There are thousands of people working in different facets all throughout the community who care deeply to make Fort Wayne the best place it can be. And it shows!

If anyone is considering participating in Leadership Fort Wayne, I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of work, but well worth it. Applications for the 2019 class are accepted through June 30, 2018. Visit their website to learn more about the program and apply.