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Chamber seeks to mold tomorrow’s leaders

HOUGHTON – In order for a community to be progressive, it needs leaders who understand what is needed to move forward. Identifying those people is the purpose of the newly created Leadership Keweenaw program.

Cheryl Fahrner, executive director of the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce, said the Leadership Keweenaw program is funded by the chamber’s Portage Lake Enrichment Foundation. The inaugural sessions of the program run from this August to May 2017.

The program should benefit most businesses who have employees they think can benefit their companies in the future, Fahrner said.

“We’d like the employers to look at their future leaders,” she said. “They must have a rising star they want to identify.”

The program, which can benefit organizations as well as businesses, provides leadership skills for the participants through presentations about government and community, human and public services, the legal system, natural resources and more. It will take place in several venues.

Fahrner said chamber leadership programs began about 25 years ago. Escanaba began one more than 10 years ago, and about 200 people have taken part since it started.

The program is needed, Fahrner said, because often in a community the same people assume leadership roles in government, organizations and business, when it would be better for a community to have a diversity of people participating.

“People are afraid, almost, to step up and take the leadership roles,” she said. “More people need to step up.”

The program begins with a two-day retreat at the Michigan Technological University challenge course at the Tech Trails. Then there are one-day, nine-hour sessions each month.

“Leadership development is part of each session,” she said.

Each of the sessions will have guest speakers talking about the various topics on the schedule, Fahrner said.

The organizers of the program are still setting up the schedules for the sessions, Fahrner said. They’ve started taking applications, which must be received by May 1. There is a $1,195 tuition, which is refundable if the participant withdraws before July 1, less a $250 administration fee.

“We’re looking for participants,” she said.

For the inaugural Leadership Keweenaw program, Fahrner said organizers would like 20 people to take part. To apply for the program, go online to keweenaw.org, or call Fahrner for more information at 482-5240.

Fahrner said she participated in a leadership program, and she found it very beneficial.

“You really learn about yourself and how you interact with other people,” she said.

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