Leadership DeKalb is accepting applications for this year’s program.
The 37-year-old program, which has about 1,500 graduates including many businesspeople, elected officials, judges and attorneys, is intended to bolster the links among local leadership as well as to provide those leaders with more information about the county group.
“It’s not really for people who want to be leaders as it is for those who are established leaders who are looking to expand their connections, expand their knowledge and learn how they can improve the county,” said Shara Sanders, Leadership DeKalb’s interim executive director.
Among DeKalb alumni are current Commissioners Michelle Long Spears and Edward “Ted” Terry, District Attorney Sherry Boston, former state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, state Sen. Tonya Anderson and state Rep. Omari Crawford.
The 10-month program includes a series of day-long examinations of topics, including the county’s economic development, history, government, justice systems and education. Sanders, who went through the program in 2017, said “Leadership DeKalb has changed my world.”
She remembers seeing a news headline about the county jail not long after the program had taken her there for a tour and conversations with those running it. “I was able to read that news story with a very different perspective.”
At the start in 1986, the program was a project run by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. But it has since been spun off as a not-for-profit, stand-alone organization with a budget of about $200,000. That money is raised through grants and sponsorships, as well as the tuition of $3,200 per participant, Sanders said.
“It is not cheap,” she said. “It’s an investment in yourself and in your community. I think it’s important to have knowledgeable leadership in your community.”
Scholarships are available, she said.
A typical class has 60 or 70 participants, although fewer people have been part of the program during the pandemic years.
The fee for applying is $50. The deadline for applying is March 31.
An open house for those interested in learning more from staff and alumni of the program will be held March 1 at 6 p.m. at The Cereal Lab, 335 W. Ponce de Leon, Suite D, Decatur, GA 30030. To register for the open house, click here.
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