Charlevoix County program helps leaders of today and tomorrow

“Leadership Charlevoix County helped me grow not only personally but professionally,” said LCC alumnus Hannah Sanderson. “Each session further developed my current skill set and added new ones. This program, along with my mentor, gave me the confidence to seek opportunities that I normally would not have sought out.”

Leadership Charlevoix County takes networking, civics and community outreach to a new level

There’s an emphasis in business, governance and charitable organizations about the importance of competent leadership.

But, what do you do when college classes, work experience and volunteerism just aren’t enough?

That’s where Leadership Charlevoix County comes in.

Begun in 2011, Leadership Charlevoix County is a joint effort of the Charlevoix, Boyne City, East Jordan and Beaver Island Chambers of Commerce to help emerging community business, civic and non-profit leaders learn important leadership skills, make vital contacts and give back to the community.

“Leadership Charlevoix County helped me grow not only personally but professionally,” said LCC alumnus Hannah Sanderson. “Each session further developed my current skill set and added new ones. This program, along with my mentor, gave me the confidence to seek opportunities that I normally would not have sought out.”

She added, “I highly recommend Leadership Charlevoix County to anyone looking to grow personally and/or professionally and that would like to learn more about their surrounding area.”

Each Leadership Charlevoix County class consists of participants from across the community.

The purpose of this class is to cultivate new, emerging leaders from the area, to strengthen individual leadership abilities, and to create awareness of leadership opportunities in the local communities.

“LCC was ideal for taking my leadership potential to the next level. I was surrounded by inspiring, like-minded individuals who helped me to acknowledge my strengths and act upon them,” said Sara Kessler, of Boyne City.

“The program provided a wealth of information on our area as well as a strong network of professionals who are focused on the betterment of our community.”

Leadership Charlevoix County was made possible, in part, by a generous grant from the Charlevoix County Community Foundation.

Along with generous sponsors, Leadership Charlevoix County is able to help local leaders, new and seasoned, to expand their horizons.

“After living in East Jordan for seven years and working in a local government management position, I still felt unconnected with Charlevoix County,” said Tom Cannon of East Jordan.

“Leadership Charlevoix County not only linked me to the region’s leaders but also gave me the tools to expand my career into the next level.”
Part of the participation requirement of Leadership Charlevoix County is for every class to identify a community need and develop a project around that need.

“Leadership Charlevoix County was such an inspiring and eye opening experience,” said East Jordan’s Cheltzi Wilson, class of 2013.

“Every session I attended, I couldn’t help but wonder how I could get involved or think of things that I wanted to change or improve in my life.”

She added, “This program gave me the confidence to pursue things I may not have normally done on my own.”

Sessions are held monthly over a nine-month period, with each class convening for an eight-hour day.

“By taking the initiative to plan for the future, the Charlevoix County chambers of commerce and The Charlevoix Community Foundation were able to successfully bring together 14 amazingly different people to unite in one cause—the future of Charlevoix County,” said Erin Nickel of East Jordan. “I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to gain such a wealth of knowledge about the County. The personal and professional connections made during the program are priceless, and I will always look back on the program with the fondest memories.”

She added, “I am excited to see the program’s continued growth and I am confident that it will be here for generations to come.”

The course, running from September through May, takes participants throughout the county and includes sessions in:
• Connecting with Your Government
• Ethics, Culture & Philanthropy
• Building Your Toolbox
• Economic Development
• Education Today
• Health & Human Services
• Environmental and natural resources
• Where do we go from here? Putting newly learned skills to use

Jill Drury of Boyne City, who graduated from the 2012 class, said the program is fabulous and that every business and organization can benefit from it.

“Through this program, the class participants have a very unique opportunity to learn about the business, education, environmental, social and political characteristics of Charlevoix County,” she said.

“Leadership Charlevoix County not only benefits the participants but also the sponsoring organization in many ways. By giving the participants the tools to be stronger leaders in our communities, the LCC program is empowering the businesses, organizations and the communities behind the scenes.”

Drury added, “From a managerial point of view, I believe the LCC program is extremely beneficial and I will recommend that we sponsor class participants in the coming years. The networking opportunities, leadership skill building and exposure to many aspects of the County was a wonderful opportunity for individuals who took part in the inaugural class. I look for many good things to come from the LCC program in the future!”

Back in 2014, Leadership Charlevoix County obtained its 501c3 Non-Profit Status.

Now, individuals looking to donate toward a non-profit organization enhancing leadership opportunities in Charlevoix County have that opportunity in Leadership Charlevoix County.

In addition to the monthly sessions, the course kicks off each year with an orientation and then an overnight retreat to Beaver Island.

Leadership Charlevoix County program participant Charity Gee said the program was an eye-opening experience for her.

“I learned so much through this well-run, comprehensive program and the experience has also helped to build my self-confidence,” she said.

“The countless resources provided to participants and opportunities to network with people at the top of their respective fields was amazing. It inspired me to better myself and help others do the same.”

Gee said her class of 19 had a close connection, and they have sustained those relationships following the program.

“I also gained a new appreciation for the area in which I live,” she said. “I want to be part of its growth and do what I can to support my community. I would highly recommend this program to anyone seeking professional and personal growth.”

Participants are also matched with a mentor who will help open doors to personal and professional growth.

The sessions culminate with a graduation ceremony in May.

Seats are limited, and interested individuals are encouraged to complete an application.

Tuition is $800 for the full course and includes materials, meals and other program costs.

If the applicant’s employer/organization is not a member of the Boyne City, Charlevoix, East Jordan or Beaver Island Chambers of Commerce, the cost is $900.

So far, there have been a total of 73 graduates of the leadership program.

If you are interested in donating to the Leadership Charlevoix County Fund, you can mail your tax-deductible check made payable to:
Leadership Charlevoix County,
PO Box 273,
East Jordan, MI 49727.

For more information, please contact or questions can also be directed to one of the following chambers of commerce:
Boyne City 582-6222
East Jordan 536-7351
Charlevoix 547-2101
Beaver Island 448-2505

Leadership Charlevoix County was chosen as the Gazette Givers program’s featured non-profit organization due to the tremendous amount of good it has done and continues to do for the community.

In addition to premium, full-color feature news coverage, Gazette Givers participants receive 20 percent of the revenue from their sponsorship pages.

To have your group considered for the Boyne City Gazette’s Gazette Givers program, call 582-2799 or e-mail