Leadership Development Academy of Rock County
About a decade ago, some Rock County business leaders came together and determined they needed to create a leadership pipeline. With that in mind, they formed the Leadership Development Academy of Rock County (LDA), an organization that gives participants the opportunity to learn about Rock County’s history, economy, culture and government.
“It’s a wonderful concept,” says executive director Russell Lindquist. “I lived in California, Oregon, and Colorado, and I had never heard about anything like this. But it reminds me of a powerful experience I once had in high school. A philanthropic organization came to my school in Colorado and turned us into philanthropists. They gave us money and taught us skills and said, ‘Figure out where the money needs to go in order to do the maximum good.’ That left an enormous impression on me.”
LDA is made up of individuals, businesses and organizations interested in impacting local communities. The program begins each September with a two-day retreat and continues with one full-day session per month from October through May. Each class is limited to 25 people. Tuition is $1,000 per person; some scholarship opportunities are available.
Sessions consist of site visits, guest speakers, case studies, professional presentations, and role-playing activities. Each participant works within a small group to produce a collaborative project that addresses a specific community need. “We have a lot of projects out there,” says Lindquist, who graduated from the program in 2011, and became the organization’s executive director last year. “They learn to work with other people, learn about the community and deliver something of value.”
Among LDA projects are funds raised to help build a bridge over Goose Creek in Big Hill Park and volunteer work at the YWCA Care House. “Our volunteers do everything like deliver furniture, paint, even putting up curtains,” says Lindquist. “There’s a deep sense of accomplishment. These are projects from the heart. That bridge, for example, will be there for a long time.”
Jean Randles, LDA Board Chairwoman, is one of about 300 alumni of the LDA program. She was a participant 10 years ago and joined the board in 2011. “The program offered an empowerment experience, both personal and professional, by introducing me to community leaders and
helping me better understand the community,” she says. “The exposure to Rock County was eye opening and educational. The program promotes leadership skills and provides a platform for the members to put their skills into practice through collaborative projects addressing specific community needs.”
Following graduation, many participants stay connected and even participate in committees, social events and volunteer-led projects.
“I’ve seen good work being done here on a much larger and deeper level,” says Lindquist. “These opportunities allow people to network with people they’ve never meet before. We deliver something to the community that impacts the lives of people. You get leadership skills that you wouldn’t normally get. It’s a wonderful thing we do.”
Potential candidates for the LDA program are often referred by various businesses and program alumni. If you’re interested in applying for the next LDA session, please visit www.ldarock.comBack To The Beloit Experience