Looking for Leaders …..Everywhere
By Rep Sylvia Gale
We are at that time of year when many schools and colleges are wrapping up the academic year and graduation time looms near.
I have noticed over the past several years that many Leadership Programs have also been established, often by local Chambers of Commerce and other government and business oriented organizations to identify and develop those who are identified as leaders for the future. Some, if not all of these Leadership programs charge fees for the privilege of participation and these programs vary in length, but often run concurrently with the traditional academic calendar. Over the past year I have become aware of several other Leadership Programs that are cultivating Leadership among much more diverse and somewhat surprising demographics.
One of the longest-standing peer-Leadership programs is the NH Women’s Leadership Series sponsored and developed by New Hampshire Citizens Alliance. Now in its 7th year, this program offers a 6-week course which teaches skills from Analyzing Power and Fundraising 101 to How to Run a Successful Issue or Political Campaign. Over the years, more than 200 women from all walks of life throughout New Hampshire have participated, ranging in age from 16-89 years old, and to date at least three former attendees have now been elected to the NH House of Representatives! Other participating members have gone on to open new businesses and to accept leadership roles in various grassroots organizing campaigns.
This year, the NH Coalition to End Homelessness initiated the NH Granite Leaders Program. Over the course of six months, more than 25 individuals from across the state who have been homeless in the past, or who are currently without safe and stable housing have participated in this inaugural program. Through a variety of community and corporate sponsorships and partnerships this program was designed and delivered to build Leadership skills within the homeless and formerly homeless community, increasing their capacity to take on influential roles on issues pertinent to their lives.
As an elected member of the NH House of Representatives I was honored to host this class at the NH State House for one of their first sessions. In collaboration with the League of NH Women Voters and Senate President Morse and Senator D’Allesandro the participants were provided with information as to How a Bill Becomes a Law and a vigorous question and answer session as to how voters can bring their ideas forward into the Legislative arena as well as how to fully participate in that process from voting, to testifying in Committees and how best to convey their concerns and positions to their elected officials throughout all levels of state and municipal government.
Two weeks ago I had the honor of attending the Graduation Exercises for the Emerging Leaders Program in Nashua that was produced and delivered through a collaboration between the Adult Learning Center and the Granite State Organizing Project, with support from the Greater Nashua Interfaith Council. During this event each of the nineteen graduates delivered a speech on what the 6-week sessions had meant to them and what they were taking away with them as a result of having completed this program. Each of these very proud graduates, coming from a vast array of cultural, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds gave the program high praise and expressed gratitude for the self-esteem building and personal goal-setting skills that they had gained from their participation.
What is common to all of these Leadership Programs is the strength of relationship building that goes on throughout the time these program participants are spending together on a shared course of learning and development. I applaud the accomplishments of all of those who have completed their individual and group course and project requirements this year, and look forward with great excitement to see these emerging leaders take their next steps toward making our local and statewide communities more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to all!
Representative Sylvia E. Gale
Hills 28- Nashua Ward 1