Leadership El Dorado
● By Style
Photo by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
It’s a well-known maxim that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work, but even with that, as 2005 dawned in El Dorado County there was cause for concern.
“As we started looking around the community, we realized our leadership gene pool was getting a little shallow,” says Laurel Brent-Bumb, CEO of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce. “We realized we needed to groom new leaders to ensure a strong future for the county.”
Eight years later, Leadership El Dorado – whose mission is to provide education and training to cultivate a diverse group of better skilled, highly motivated leaders with clear visions of how to lead the way to a healthier community – has two graduates in public office and is preparing to recruit its eighth class. If history is any indicator, there’ll be more applicants than slots available.
Each leadership “class” commits to a one-year curriculum, followed by a one-year service project of its own choosing. The curriculum consists of one class every month, each focused on a different aspect of what makes El Dorado County tick. One month might concentrate on health care, for example, while other sessions focus on local government, law enforcement, education and economic development, among others. “The idea is to help them learn how our community operates and where the greatest needs exist,” Brent-Bumb says. “People who have lived in El Dorado County their whole lives will come out of these sessions surprised at how much they learn.”
The service projects are as diverse as the classes themselves. Some focus on building projects, others look to raise funds for local nonprofits. The Christmas trees placed along Highway 50 every year are there because of Class 3, which raised more than $20,000 and worked with CalTrans to ensure the holiday tradition continued after an improvement project temporarily shut it down. This year, Class 6 is organizing a “Stand Up for Kids” comedy showcase, to be held March 2, which will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hands4Hope and three other children’s charities in the region.
Applications are currently being accepted for the next leadership class, which starts in September; with limited space available, applicants will have to earn their seats. “Participants are selected based on their answers to five essay questions on why they’re interested in the program, their definitions of leadership, and understanding of issues facing the county,” Brent-Bumb says. With so much demand for the class, Brent-Bumb says she’s never had to “sell it,” but she does encourage people of all stripes to apply. For participants, the program promises a life-changing experience, as well as lasting friendships and community networks.
“Participants aren’t the only ones who benefit, however,” Brent-Bumb says. “The residents of El Dorado County can continue to live, work and play here knowing dedicated leaders are committed to the community’s well-being for today and the future.”
For more information on the upcoming event or to apply for the next class, visit eldoradocounty.org or call 530-621-5885.