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Sunday, November 10, 2013

ZBLA Class of 2013

Judge Bridges administers the oath to ZBLA '13
Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club
The view was beautiful from the Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club on Saturday morning. Inside the clubhouse we were making history.  It was Graduation Day for the Zion-Benton Leadership Academy, Class of 2013.

 ZBLA "identifies, assists, and empowers individuals to become active and inspiring contributors in our community, reflecting the diversity of our community."   Zion Township Supervisor Cheri Neal and I came up with the concept in early 2012 after a nominating committee meeting of the Coalition for Healthy Communities, on whose board we both serve. Cheri said, "It would be wonderful if our leadership reflected our diversity." I said, "It would be wonderful to leverage our social capital so that people will want to live, work, worship, and raise their families here." (I was thinking both of how many people grew up in the Zion-Benton community but choose to live elsewhere as adults and also of reasons that people from elsewhere would want to move here.)  
Blessed are they who clean up (in their good clothes)!
ZBLA 2012 was a great success.  ZBLA 2013 was even better. The twelve participants met every other week for five classes that taught self-discovery, organization and group dynamics, and networking in the context of the Zion-Benton community. Each participant had a mentor (an experienced community leader). The pairs met between classes to review the classes and also to continue the self-discovery. 

We have been supported by the Charmm'd Foundation whose staff teach the ZBLA classes.  Our ZBLA Blueprint has been requested by other communities who'd like to replicate it!  It's been wonderful for us, the ZBLA committee, to meet the participants and to get to know the mentors better. Beach Park, Winthrop Harbor, and Zion are in good hands!


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