Leadership Palo Alto is currently accepting applications for its leadership development program, which starts in September and occurs over a year. Potential local leaders and those already in leadership roles are encouraged to apply.
Program participants, called fellows, will take part in a 10-session course where they will gain an in-depth understanding of Palo Alto life, including local economic, social and government challenges, according to the Leadership Palo Alto website.
Fellows will also be equipped with 21st-century leadership skills such as effective presentation and storytelling, conflict management and collaboration techniques to run successful meetings and campaigns from presenters, which have included experts in technology, health care, education, the arts and other sectors, according to a press release.
Charlie Weidanz, a current member of this year's class and the executive director of Abilities United (a local nonprofit that supports children and adults with disabilities), said the program has given him the tools to be a more effective leader.
"Each month the presenters have challenged us to be best in class (and) in our industry to be impactful leaders (who) make a difference in this community," Weidanz said. "Each month I come away with a greater understanding and appreciation for Palo Alto."
Jeffery Phillips who graduated from the program in 2013 and is the general manager at Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto, had a similar story. He, too, wanted to be more involved in the Palo Alto community because "there's so much happening so quickly."
"(This) was the perfect opportunity to learn all that," he said.
Phillips lauded the collaboration between people within the business community and the city and everyone's commitment to the program.
"Every day was something different," he said of the sessions. "The day we learned about city government helped us understand the concept and complexity of city government and how everything is intertwined."
Phillips said he was able to bring back what he learned to his staff, "so that they understand the bigger picture of the city that they come to work in every day."
Other program participants include Leslyn Leong, founder of Prism Consultants, which helps businesses build relationships through social marketing.
Leong, who has been extensively involved in the school community since moving to Palo Alto more than 10 years ago, is also a current member of this year's class. The program, she said, has "helped tailor her skills and interests to benefit the community."
"For me, this program seemed like a perfect blend of giving me a macro view of Palo Alto with enough detail to understand how everything works," she said.
Leong has applied this gained knowledge to her work. She is currently in the process of creating a public art project at Palo Alto and Gunn high schools to encourage interaction between students.
Although there are many nonprofits that address teen well-being, Leong said she feels that most are aimed at adults, specifically parents. She hopes the grassroots art project will reach all students not just those in leadership positions.
Leadership Palo Alto has an extensive network of more than 400 senior fellows.
"It's a network of relationships," Phillips added. "These people are really committed and engaged and are helping create the change that they want to see."
Applications are due June 30. For more information or to apply, visit paloaltochamber.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650-324-3135.