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Duffy: Planting the leadership seed to grow

As spring approaches, for many (especially in the Midwest) that means the start of the planting season. People work hard at preparing the groundwork for planting seeds to have a bountiful return once the seeds have had a chance to grow in the proper climate.

Saturday at Faranda’s, Proudly DeKalb sponsored a DeKalb Leadership Symposium with the same idea in mind – planting a seed for leadership development. The symposium brought together a diverse and cross-generational representation of people in the community that have been a part of many of the leadership programs in the area. Attendees included students representing the Kishwaukee Education Consortium Business Leadership Academy, Community Foundation’s Youth Engaged in Philanthropy, Kishwaukee College leadership programs, Northern Illinois University Leadership Programs, and the DeKalb Chamber Leadership Academy along with representatives of the faith-based community, city of DeKalb, DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership, Kishwaukee College and NIU leaders, and more.

The event kicked off with keynote speaker retired Col. Jill Morgenthaler. Col. Jill, as she’s known, spoke of many of her firsts as a woman in the military and what she learned through her successful rise in leadership in her career. She touched on some stories from her book on leadership and led a breakout session on navigating change.

The day provided breakout options for the nearly 100 representatives in attendance. The sessions included Navigating Change, Crisis and Chaos, The Ethics of Good Leadership, Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship, Leading by Generation – Bridging the Gap, Leading a Team and a panel discussion on Diversity & Inclusivity. 

While each of these breakouts were offered, there was a concurrent session throughout the day that was a facilitated discussion about leadership in DeKalb. Everyone in attendance was invited to participate to help us look at how we can better prepare and support leaders in DeKalb. Participants provided feedback on the day’s events and thoughts on ways that we can create a community-wide infrastructure that ignites leadership potential.

The day provided a true community partnership by bringing together multiple generations of aspiring leaders. Everyone was involved in this event for the purpose of building leadership in DeKalb. No politics, no hidden agendas, just terrific networking and discussions. The mission of the Proudly DeKalb Leadership group is to develop leadership in the community as outlined in the following statement: Cultivating leadership skills will unlock your highest potential and provide you and your community the greatest aptitude for success.

This symposium was simply a step in the process and the feedback received will help guide the direction of what happens next. Be sure to follow #ProudlyDeKalb online to find out.

Upcoming Events

March 8 and 9 – Candidates’ Nights for the upcoming elections will be held at the Egyptian Theatre starting with a meet-and-greet at 5:30 p.m.

March 14 – Business After-Hours at Cracker Jax from 5 to 7 p.m.

March 30 – Community Expo at Sycamore High School Field House from 4 to 7 p.m.

• Matt Duffy is executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.

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