Leadership Academy graduates 14 grassroots leaders in Summer 2015 class

20150922_184307Fourteen grassroots leaders emerged from the Make a Difference! Leadership Academy with new skills, a plan for action and a focus on community improvement. The sixth graduating class, the Summer 2015 cohort, completed the 16-week program on Tuesday, September 22 with a graduation ceremony.

The goal of the Leadership Academy is to support the efforts of local residents to make changes in neighborhood factors that contribute to disparities in health and birth outcomes. The Academy trains individuals and assists them in the development of a Community Action Plan that outlines a specific project to move a community to action.

The graduating class selected the development of a community resource guide on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as their project, based on the proverb “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Their guide, “If you teach a man to fish” covers important SNAP program information, healthy recipes, tips for stretching your dollars and more. It is currently in the development stages and will eventually be available at community locations.

During the ceremony, Executive Director Jennifer Gornto shared tips with the graduates on how to be good leaders, including not letting setbacks stop you, never stop learning and letting excellence be your brand.

20150922_183540Facilitator Juarlyn Smith talked about the growth and attributes of each class member, while the graduates shared their reflections on what they learned from the program.

“I find myself realizing there are different levels of what a leader can be,” shared graduate Yjang Leiba-Wynter, who said he didn’t consider himself a leader when he first began the classes. “It gives us an opportunity to do something bigger than ourselves.”

The next Leadership Academy class will begin in January 2016. For more information, contact Marsha Davis at 904.353.2131 x1002.