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Leadership Akron Signature Program creates leaders focused on advancing Greater Akron community

March 22, 2018

Leadership Akron Signature Program creates leaders focused on advancing Greater Akron community

AKRON, Ohio – For more than three decades, the Leadership Akron Signature Program has shaped the next generation of leaders in the Greater Akron area by helping them get a feel for what daily life is like for their counterparts who work in different community sectors.

The 11-month program runs from August-June and features day-long sessions held once a month that each focus on a particular sector such as education, healthcare or justice. The sessions are designed by Leadership Akron Signature Program graduates who have expertise in the particular field of interest, and offer participants an up-close view of the field, including challenges and accounts from providers and customers.

“What I think the Leadership Akron Signature Program does really well is expose participants to these complex systems that make up our community environment. All of them touch. The arts touch public safety, which interfaces with community spaces. It’s really been fascinating to see how all of these things work together to create an overall healthy community,” said ArtsNow Executive Director and Leadership Akron Signature Program Class 34 member Nicole Mullet.

Monthly sessions are complemented by optional enrichment sessions that help participants develop an even deeper understanding of a particular session topic, such as shadowing a cardiologist or riding along with an Akron Police officer.

“During healthcare month, I was able to shadow a cardiologist at Summa Health and it was one of those experience I never would have been afforded but for my involvement with the Signature Program,” Mullet said. “It was interesting because you know, you watch ‘ER”’and think you have this real world experience or knowledge of what it means to be a physician in a big hospital but following along really made me aware of the collaborative approach that Summa is taking to healthcare. I work in the arts and it was a world totally unknown to me.”

For Barberton Director of Public Service and Leadership Akron Signature Program Class 34 member Mike Vinay, public education day proved to be an insightful experience.

“I got to see how Akron Public Schools are facing some of their challenges in developing and retaining knowledge within the area. One of the things they are doing is they have one school dedicated to the arts, another solely dedicated to STEM and that was a real eye opener for me. It was really interesting to see the type of collaboration that was involved between the City of Akron and the school system,” he said.

Program participants have also benefited from interactions with one another, both during opening and closing retreats and session experiences.

“It’s something that helps cultivate collaboration for the future with networking capabilities and leaders from different sectors who all have an interest in improving the community,” Vinay said.

“One of the conversations I had with Women’s Network President Kirsten Lino was about the different ways that the arts can support professional and personal growth, whether it’s a different way to approach note-taking to self-care and making sure you’re taking time to engage in the creative because it changes the way our brains work and helps us solve problems more creatively. I ended up connecting her with some artists from the creative sector that could potentially help her work with the Women’s Network,” Mullet said.

Although Signature Program Class 34 won’t wrap up until June, Leadership Akron is currently accepting applications for Signature Program Class 35.

Thirty-six participants will be selected for the class, with the board of trustees seeking representation from leaders in business, labor, education, health care, arts, religion, government, community-based organizations, and ethnic and minority groups. To be considered, applicants must primarily live or work in Summit County and:

Be a committed community volunteerDemonstrate leadership within own organizationsBe able to commit to the program and receive employer support, as most sessions take place on weekdays

While Mullet highly recommends the Signature Program, she says undertaking the experience at the right time in life is critical for success.

“Do it at a time when you can fully commit to it, when you’re at a point in your career and personal life that you can do as many of those extra activities as you can,” she says.

An informational reception for the program will take place on March 27 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Huntington Bank, 106 S. Main Street, Akron. Interested individuals can also apply for the program online up until April 13 at 5 p.m.

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