By Joel Hall
The Clayton County Grassroots Leadership Institute, a training program for those interested in local, community involvement, has begun accepting applications for its 2010 class.
From now until Friday, June 4, the Clayton County University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service will accept applications for the 12-week leadership course, which begins on Aug. 31. Through weekly, three-hour-long workshops, graduates will walk away with a basic understanding of effective leadership, forming group consensus, and government operations at the county and state levels.
Marie Barber, chairman of the Grassroots Leadership Board of Directors, said the course was developed to give those with a desire to be involved in county affairs the tools to be more-effective leaders.
"The point is to prepare leaders to meet future community challenges," Barber said. "It is open to all interested men and women, who are dedicated and are truly committed to [the] development and unity of our community. I think a good candidate would be a person who wants to learn about the cities, the county government, and who wants to get involved."
The course, which is facilitated by the Cooperative Extension Service, calls upon the expertise of county and state officials, as well as local leaders in business, finance, economic development, and community organizations.
Kim Siebert, director of the extension service, said the program uses a curriculum developed by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership at UGA. "This is definitely a community effort," Siebert said. "The [Grassroots] board is made up of different organizations from all over the county. There was a sense among many organizations around the county that there was a need for basic leadership skills [training]. It [the course] helps them understand the barriers to access, and how they can get around them."
Siebert said the course will touch on topics such as: understanding leadership; effective communication; conducting successful meetings; forming a group consensus; conflict resolution; forming collaborative partnerships; understanding poverty issues; and understanding diversity. Most of the classes, she said, will be taught by guest speakers specializing in certain subject areas.
According to Barber, guest presenters this year include: Yulonda Beauford and Ron Shipman of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce; Archway Partnership Professional Gail Webb and Clayton County Assistant Economic Development Director Randall Toussaint; Clayton State Social Sciences Professor Sandy Harrison Golden; Clayton County Juvenile Court Detention Alternative Coordinator Adolphus Graves, and Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley.
"The community benefits because the participants that graduate from Grassroots Leadership will be more informed about the affairs of Clayton County," Barber said. "They will also have a lot of opportunity to develop team-building, leadership, personal and inter-personal skills."
Applications for the institute can be obtained by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting the Cooperative Extension Service, located at 1262 Government Circle in Jonesboro. All applicants will pay a $25 interview fee, and those accepted, will pay an additional $25 enrollment fee. For more information, call (770) 473-3945.