A Publication of WTVP

Since 1975, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School (CLS) has helped develop strong leadership in our community. Preparation for CLS2003 is well underway, and there are some exciting improvements to this program. I encourage you to have your best and brightest apply for CLS2003.

Any program entering its 28th year is ready for review and reinvention. This is even more important for a program on leadership. The science of leadership has grown and developed over the years. We decided to do a top-down review of CLS and see how we could improve it for the participants taking the class, the employers who support it, and the community that benefits from having future leaders familiar with community issues.

We started by talking to employers who have been some of our strongest supporters. We gained valuable insight into your expectations for class participants. You wanted a balance of leadership skills and community awareness. The curriculum for CLS2003 will target your expectations. We will have a rich mix of leadership skill sets and community awareness. Participants will learn through formal classroom sessions and by being exposed to some of our best community leaders. These leaders will discuss issues and challenges facing us today.

We looked at the class projects. In the past, we surveyed community leaders to identify issues they thought needed to be addressed. These issues were then assigned to project teams to research and make recommendations to the community. Although this was valuable, we wanted to improve the process.

This year we will partner with local community organizations to develop specific projects with them. We asked, “How can we help you with a project you may not have the resources to address?” The project teams will work directly with the organizations to research, develop, and report on how best to address the issues identified. The project teams will report out to the organization and then to the community. We see this as making a positive, direct contribution to our community.

We will continue with the field trips. Class participants will get an opportunity to go behind the scenes of many organizations and learn how these serve and impact our community. We have a lot of new trips planned, along with past favorites like the police ride-along.

We will continue to provide networking opportunities. One of the hidden treasures of CLS is the relationships that develop over the length of the class. We have spoken with many graduates, and this is one facet they cherish most. We have activities planned to foster the growth and development of these relationships.

We are looking to expand the community volunteer segment of the program. In addition to offering opportunities to gain insights into how an organization’s board may work, we also will provide opportunities to serve on committees.

On behalf of the CLS2003 steering committee, I want to encourage you to identify individuals in your organization with leadership potential and get these budding leaders to apply for CLS2003. Your support of these programs is well worth the investment of time and money required. You have the chance to help develop future leaders and make a positive difference in our community for many years to come.

Application forms are available on the Chamber Web site at, or contact Sue Fulton at 495-5921. Applications must be received at the Chamber office by October 25. Class members will be selected by November 8, orientation is January 8, and the first class is January 10. Tuition for CLS is $395 for participants from Chamber-member businesses and $595 for participants from non-Chamber members. IBI