By Susan Vlcek

Bankers. Nurses. Judges. Entertainers. Fishermen. Owls. Dolphins. Beavers. Foxes.  What an interesting cocktail party!

What conversation could possibly draw this hodgepodge together in a corner of the room?  Investments is probably not the one that comes to mind.  Who’s the first one to bail to the restroom?

Take another sip and a breath, and find yourself connecting with the chat circle.  Yes, I do make investments. Every day, every moment!  Yes, my money, but also my time, my energy, my choices.  And now the insurance agent and the school psychologist have broken off into a side conversation, sharing how everything they do is an investment that yields some level of return.

In truth, all of our LMC programs are focused on investment.  We then continue to invest in our alumni, and they invest back into the organization and the community.  That is what makes us a Community Leadership Program.

This summer LMC made an investment in its staff by supporting their participation in the national conference of the Association of Leadership Programs (ALP), where staff in turn invested their hours and days in hearing and learning the best of what other programs are doing.  LMC also invested in another alumnus, JrLMC Class of 2013 and Board of Trustees member Johnny Hojnacki.  Johnny and I co-presented on why we should celebrate our alumni engagement and recognize its value to both alumni and organization.

Along with other positive comments, one evaluator stated, “Thank you for bringing a new take to a perennial topic.”  That take was courtesy of  LMC’s investment in its alumni.

Johnny shared his evaluation of the time he invested in Phoenix with the LMC board. You’ll appreciate it, too:

Attending the conference gave me a new appreciation of our organization, staff, board, and programs. It’s easy to become used to what we have but after talking with other programs I realized that not everyone has it as good as us. I spoke with a board member of another
leadership program whose two co-executive directors both quit at the same time; the 8-person board was left scrambling to put to together the program for the year with no staff. In contrast, LMC has three dedicated staff members, a 25 person board, and many committees made up of community members all working together to run our organization.

At the conference I developed an understanding of the value an organization like ALP brings to the table. ALP is a network of community leadership programs across the country who are all wanting to improve together. There is no sense of competition; instead, people
share their successes, failures, and best advice with everyone else so that nothing is time twice without necessity. There is never a need to re-invent the wheel with ALP. Members can speak to each other at conferences, over the phone, through monthly conferences etc.

My recommendation is to take future incoming board presidents to the ALP
conferences. Understanding what ALP is, how it can help our organization, and building connections in the community leadership world would all be beneficial to a new president, in my opinion.

This valuable insight, as well as the value Johnny brought to all the conference attendees, is one of your investments offering a nice yield, LMC.  Thank you.

Did I mention that Johnny is working toward becoming a financial advisor?  Nice fit.

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