• Leadership Santa Maria Valley Celebrates Graduation, Looks to Future Community Involvement

    The Leadership Santa Maria Valley Class of 2019 wrapped up the 11 month program with their June topic day focused on leadership development, and a graduation ceremony celebration.

    The theme of both events centered around future plans for the group as they move on from the leadership program. 

    “The Chamber offers the Leadership program in order to ensure that our community has a broad range of individuals who understand what the issues are, know who is working on those issues, and are committed to getting personally involved in making a difference,” explained Glenn Morris, President/CEO of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber. “Our expectation is that graduates not only return to their employers as better personal leaders, but that they discover a passion for some element of the community and feel confident getting involved.”

    During the Leadership topic day, Lee-Volker Cox, Chairman of the Leadership Board of Directors, held a program debrief to hear firsthand what class members got out of the program, and what they plan to do with the leadership skills, connections, and better understanding of the community they had developed during the program.

    “Over the past 11 months you have visited over 40 locations in the community and participated in over 100 different talks, tours or other events,” Cox said. Now that the program is over, what’s next? What will you do with all that you’ve learned?”

    For some, the program was a realization that they do have the time to give back to the community. “Leadership Santa Maria Valley showed me that I can make time to make a difference in the community,” said classmate Matthew Morris. “Seeing that I was able to commit to this program is proof I could commit a similar amount of time to getting involved in the community. And I’ve really enjoyed this program and want to continue being a part of something that can have a positive impact locally.”

    For others, the program served as motivation to invest time in the local community. “Leadership has introduced us to so many local leaders across industries,” said class member Molly Schiff. “A common thread I saw was their commitment to giving back to the community beyond what they do professionally. I think as leaders, we need to get involved to better understand where we live and work, and also be a role model so others see the importance in having a positive impact on the community. Seeing how actively involved all of these community leaders are was really inspiring and showed me that I too want to get more involved in making a positive impact on the community I care so much about.”

    Leadership Program Director Terri Oneschuck says she enjoyed working with this year’s class, and sees great potential for their future leadership roles in the local community.  “My hope is that each member of this year’s class has gained self-confidence and increased their leadership skills,” Oneschuck said. “Going forward I look forward to watching them grow within their company or their industry and become a leader in our community.”