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In recent years psychologists have shown that leadership skills can be a learned trait. In other words, leadership is not something people are born with and it is attainable to everyone willing to learn the skill. The Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute offers this opportunity to improve your leadership skills within the Des Moines community.

The Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute is a non-profit organization that came to existence in 1982. Since then more than 2000 leaders have participated in various programs offered by the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, including the Community Leadership Program. The Community Leadership Program (CLP) helps participants to learn leadership skills and be “partners for change.”

The Community Leadership Program helps participants grow in their understanding of Greater Des Moines and how to lead within it,” Amy Jennings, the Executive Director of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, described the program and its goals. “The goal of the program is that graduates use their knowledge, skills, and relationships to effectively lead community change. This looks different for everyone, depending on which issues call to them.

CLP members of the 2020 class.

It is estimated that around 150 people from across Central Iowa apply to this program and only 50 are selected. In order to be part of the CLP prospective participants have to go through an application process and interviews. In order to start the application process one has to be nominated first, although those who desire to participate can nominate themselves. Ideally, the nominee will have some kind of leadership experience and he/she shows their commitment to community participation. All the nominated candidates will be invited to apply to become part of the program. Once prospective participants get accepted to the CLP the hard work of improving your leadership skills begins.

Sessions take place from 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. every other week, with a significant amount of time spent outside of class working in project teams. While the time commitment is heavy, this allows program participants to fully engage in their personal development and growth,” Amy Jennings explained what future leaders do and learn while in the Community Leadership Program. “Sessions typically focus on a particular community issue, such as education, equity and inclusion, or government. Class members also learn effective leadership practices and work in teams of 10 on a project that addresses a need of a local non-profit organization.

It might sound like a big commitment, but the skills learned from this program are worth the time spent participating in it.

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“I have participated in other leadership development programs but being part of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s Community Leadership Program has exceeded my expectations,” Tar Macias Hola Iowa President and participant of Community Leadership Program shared his experience with this program. “I’m impressed by their efforts of making the program inclusive and reflecting of the Des Moines community. Many organizations throw the terms diversity and inclusion around but fall short I’m their implementation. Amy and her team are very intentional in their efforts to make the CLP welcoming and inclusive.

It is also important to note that those who participate in the program don’t just graduate and just move on. A chance to be part of the program also gives an opportunity to participants to have a lifelong association with the Leadership Institute and have connection to many different professionals who are focused on making the Greater Des Moines area into a better community for all. Many who graduated from the CLP continue supporting the Leadership Institute and many have become strong leaders in their communities.

“Greater Des Moines is beautifully diverse and in order for our whole community to thrive, it’s important for many different people to work together on our critical issues,” Ms. Jennings stated. “Thus, it’s also important that participants in the Community Leadership Program come from all areas of our community. The Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute has taken this charge extremely seriously in recent years, which has prompted our organization to change its vision, enhance its curriculums, broaden its recruitment efforts, increase scholarships awarded, and intentionally engage stakeholders from underrepresented communities.

There is a cost involved, but the Leadership Institute offers financial assistance to those who might need it. This way the cost won’t be a barrier to learn to be a better leader of any community.

“I want to invite leaders in our Latino community to consider participating in this program or nominate someone that would proudly represent our community. The deadline for nomination is February 28,” Mr. Macias extended an invitation to those interested in learning the skills of being a better leader.

If you are interested in participating in the Community Leadership Program or know someone who you believe should be part of this program, you can make a nomination. Nominations are accepted until 11:59 PM on February 28. Once nominations are made for the Class of 2021 applications will be available in March through April. The candidate phone interviews will commence in May and in June there will be class selection and invitations. The program will start in August and will run until May of next year.

For more information about the Community Leadership program, to make a nomination for this program or to learn more about the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute please visit http://www.gdmli.com/CommunityLeadershipProgram

Leadership is a skill that can be learned and improved on. The Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute gives the opportunity to current and aspiring leaders to improve their leadership skills and engage in their community. After all great leaders can help usher big changes to many different communities in Des Moines area and beyond.

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