Chamber’s Leadership Institute (Lead In) graduates 20 future leaders

(Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Institute, a local effort to identify and cultivate the next generation of community leaders, recently graduated its second class of the program. 

Lead In, as it’s known, is a leadership development program designed to attract and retain an educated population of young community volunteers and professionals by equipping them with skills necessary to propel them to the next level of leadership. Participants are chosen and selected through an application process and the class is limited to 20 members each year. The group meets for four hours, once a month for nine months January through September.

Lead In is comprised of two sections: a community awareness track and a talent development segment. 

The community awareness track is designed to expose participants to critical community issues that enhance each member’s understanding of assets and resources within the community, potential solutions to problems and strategies for becoming more involved. This involves providing access and interaction with public servants and community and business leaders from all areas of development to experience hands-on learning and expanding participants’ understanding of people and beliefs that may be different than their own. 

The talent development segment focuses on activities and materials specifically aimed at enhancing strengths-based leadership, team work, critical thinking and professional growth. 

Sid LeGrand, Gonzalez Companies and President of the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of  Commerce, explained, “We know there are talented young leaders out there. We wanted a way to bring them into the forefront and work with them to develop their skills and spark their interest specifically in community leadership. Based on feedback and our observations, we’re confident we’re achieving that goal.” 

Throughout the class, participants heard from City of O’Fallon and Village of Shiloh staff, several local non-profits and service organizations, public safety officials, educators and local entrepreneurs. Gaining access to seasoned community leaders they may not otherwise meet is one of the reasons many participants decide to join Lead In. “Because young leaders don’t tend to run in traditional social circles or engage in traditional service opportunities, there can be a generational disconnect between established and emerging leaders. Throughout Lead In, we’re working hard to make those connections and find ways to solidify the leadership pipeline in our community,” said Debbie Arell-Martinez, Executive Director of the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce. 

Jessica Lotz, Leadership and Development Coordinator for the Chamber and Lead In facilitator, credits the diversity of thought within the class as the real success indicator. “I’m proud that Lead In attracts the variety of people and professions it has.” This year, the group had a department head who manages a $30 million budget and an administrative assistant who manages someone else’s schedule. “The reality is that both have talents and significant life experiences that added value to the group.” 

Amy Stuttle, Chief Executive Officer for Victory’s Men’s Health and recent Lead In graduate described her experience: “This was a great opportunity to connect with young, confident and passionate leaders all striving to make an impact not only in their profession but in the community.” 

Ultimately, the end result is a larger pool of emerging leaders who are committed to remaining in the area and see themselves as partners for change by serving in civic leadership positions, on non-profit boards or becoming involved in the political process.

Applications for the 2019 Leadership Institute will be released mid-October on the Chamber’s website Anyone under age 40 who lives or works in O’Fallon-Shiloh is encouraged to apply for next year’s class. 

This year’s graduates are: 

• April Bingheim, Asst. Branch Manager, Central Bank of St. Louis

• Jim Blackburn, Lead Telecommunicator, City of O’Fallon Police Dept

• Mike Clark, Senior Wealth Advisor, Visionary Wealth Advisors

• Amanda Eschman, 6th grade teacher, Central School District #104

• Megan Fuhler, Director of Public Works, Village of Shiloh

• Lauren Haukapp, Director of Marketing, McKendree Metro RecPlex

• Tamar Hodges, Attorney, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, PC

• Jessica Hood, Community Development, American Cancer Society

• Erik Huber, AVP/Manager, Bank of Springfield

• Carly Jones, Community Relations Specialist, Caritas Family Solutions

• Mary Lynam-Miller, Marketing/PR Liaison, Clinton Manner Living Center

• Kristin McMahon, Branch Manager, Carrollton Bank

• Katie Mettille, Account Services Staff, Kerber, Eck & Braeckel, LLP

• Raven Trebilcock, Administrative Assistant, Legacy Planning, LLC

• Tiana Montgomery, Principal, Shiloh School District #85

• James Nash, Financial Advisor, First Command

• Ssgt Rob Niebauer, Repair Network Manager, US Air Force

• Amy Stuttle, Chief Executive Officer, Victory Men’s Health

• Jeff Taylor, Director of Public Works, City of O’Fallon

• Justin Ward, Commercial Banking Officer, Town & Country Bank