Individuals interested in becoming active and engaged leaders in Union County are encouraged to apply to join the Lead UC class of 2018-19. This year marks the start of the 10th class of the Union County Development Association’s (UCDA) program available to those who are interested in building an understanding of community leadership.
Lead UC is a five-month program featuring distinguished community leaders, content experts and successful executives who share their ideas, perspectives and experiences. Aric Bishop of Creston, who currently works as a library assistant at Southwestern Community College, said the program is for individuals interested in building an understanding of community leadership through exposure, enrichment and engagement while experiencing curriculum specifically designed to assist individuals in becoming active and engaged leaders in Union County.
Bishop is a 2017 alumnus of Lead UC’s leadership program. He chose to become part of Lead UC’s program after completing his Masters in Business Administration from Upper Iowa University in 2016.
“UCDA’s leadership program ‘Lead UC,’ formerly known as High Lakes Leadership, is really about creating opportunities for young talent to become inspired about the potential Union County has to offer,” said Bishop. “It also empowers participants to become better leaders and advocates for our community.”
Because the class consists of a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds, Bishop said the diversity creates not only increased awareness of current challenges in the county, but also more opportunities for solutions and networking that build lasting relationships, which help make Union County a better place to live and work.
Bishop said his employment and leadership skills were strengthened by the activities the students participated in, such as roundtable discussions, developing an online presence, and volunteering within the community.
“We did so many things within the program, which included getting acquainted with our leadership, strength-based leadership skills and assessment, creating a LinkedIn profile, guest speakers and Meals of the Heartland and Community Bus Tour,” said Bishop.
Bishop said the class discussed topics of networking, public speaking techniques, learning about Union County’s natural, human, social, political, financial, historical and cultural capital.
“I really enjoyed the networking aspects and learning about the various capitals present within Union County,” said Bishop.
Bishop said, to this day, he is still in contact with the majority of his Lead UC classmates.
“UCDA’s leadership program is a great way to build your network, to fall back on people when you need help, to bounce off ideas and share insights. It starts a conversation, which I think is important for our area, because too often we don’t have the discussions we need to be having to get things done,” said Bishop.
Bishop believes the program provides an opportunity for individuals who have not had the chance to develop their leadership skills or meet others outside their normal network.
“I firmly believe that what organizations need to do now is invest in the development of the people that work for them,” said Bishop. “I feel that this program offers that for employers as well as the employees that work for them. I think by strengthening ties, and creating partnerships with local business owners, organizations and industries the UCDA could spark more impact, especially to businesses that aren’t typically associated with the UCDA Leadership classes.”
According to the UCDA, Lead UC challenges individuals in all sectors of the community to build capacity for identification of local issues, engagement in positive community change and shared leadership.
While the goals are to build personal leadership skills, the benefits reach beyond the individual by creating a corps of informed community leaders, building positive collaboration for community development, enhancing team building in the work place and connecting employees and individuals to local decision makers.
UCDA is currently accepting applications to the LEAD UC program, which should be turned in by Oct. 31. The new session will begin Jan. 23. To learn more about Lead UC, visit http://unioncountyiowa.com or call the UCDA at (641) 782-2003.