All posts tagged leadership program

Leadership Venango Holds Eighth Session: Energy & Agriculture


The Leadership Venango Class of 2019 met for their eighth session on April 10 at the Venango County Fairgrounds. This session focused on Energy and Agriculture. Renee Tritten, Communications Supervisor for Central Electric Cooperative (CEC) and member of the Chamber’s leadership committee, had a full day planned for the class.

The session began with Larry Brink, System Engineer from CEC, discussing the alternative energy initiative and the pros and cons of various energy sources. He explained that in 2018 the United States was still 64% dependent on fossil fuels, 19% dependent on nuclear power and only 17% dependent on renewable resources. The class next heard from Bill Fesenmeyer, Senior System Engineer at CEC. Bill spoke on the energy industry, reliability, and grid security. Bill explained the different types of grids for areas from cities to rural communities.

Jeff Fowler, Senior Extension Educator for the Penn State Cooperative Extension, introduced the Extension to the class and provided an overview and history of the Venango County Fairgrounds and 4H Program. Jeff is passionate about the program and the life skills students learn through their 4H projects and classes taught by the Extension. He then led the class on a tour of the Fairgrounds.

Following lunch, the class heard from Dan Brockett of the Penn State Extension Program, who spoke on the oil and gas industry and its impact in Venango County. The class discussed the new cracker plant in Monaca and its effect on the economy and the environment.

Warren Thomas, owner of Baytree Farm in Emlenton, then spoke on local agriculture opportunities. He emphasized the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how much work goes in to each crop. Warren recommended supporting local farmers through community-supported agriculture (CSA) and being mindful of the amount of food we waste. 

Finishing up the day was Adam Cook, CEO of the Franklin and Grove City YMCAs. Adam spoke on leading change with energy, touching on the different levels of leadership and how to encourage and motivate others. The Leadership Venango Class of 2019 will meet for their final session May 8 at the Drake Well Museum.

Join us in celebrating the inaugural class of Leadership Venango on May 22! Find more details about graduation here.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s May 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Leadership Venango Holds Seventh Session: Business & Economic Development


The 2019 class of Leadership Venango met for their seventh session to learn and discuss diversity, local economic development, and conflict management. The session was hosted by Komatsu and included a tour of the research and development facilities the company uses to move their product forward.

Komatsu’s Alan McBride provided the first presentation on Komatsu’s approach to inclusion and diversity. There is a strong business case for making sure your teams are focused on respect and having an open mind. Having or allowing personal judgements in a group causes people to shut down and dampens creativity. Alan shared how one of the biggest hurdles can be getting the executive team to buy into the value of diversity and actively promote open mindfulness. Working with people who are different is all about learning what we can from people who see things from a different perspective.

The biggest areas for improvement include gender diversity, disability inclusion, and cognitive diversity. Cognitive diversity is simply accepting different ways of problem solving and different methods of thinking. Left unchecked, unacceptance of different ways of thinking will obstruct a productive work environment. Alan also shared with us how, as a company, Komatsu works toward development of individuals in these types of areas through professional networking and mentorship.

The second part of the morning involved an “MBA in an hour” where Frank Hajduk of SCORE discussed economics and particularly, the economics of the local economy. He provided input on the capitalist and socialist dynamics of the American economy. A lot of focus was put on our local economy, its history, its potential future, and what it needs to succeed.

The local economy is defined by its job centers and everything within a one hour travel time. One of the most important dynamics, according to Mr. Hajduk, is the flow of money and product into and out of the local economy. If money is brought into the area, the area will see economic growth, but if money is carried or spent outside of the local area, it hurts the local economy.

This stressed the importance of the shop local mentality and the Be Here initiative.

The final discussion was brought by Pamela Watkins about conflict management. Pam is an experienced human resources (HR) professional who is the director of HR at Matric Limited and provides HR consulting through Watkins HR Strategy. There are many things that create conflict in a workplace and in any group involving people. The discussion of causes of conflict correlates closely with the discussion on diversity.

Many of the biggest issues start with barriers to communication and respect of peoples’ position and perception. There are many methods that people use to deal with conflict ranging from detrimental to constructive, and the most constructive way may not always be the same. In the end, there are real and measurable costs associated with conflict. Building on the theme of the day, we need to learn how to manage conflict as part of maximizing productivity and enhancing the benefits of life in the local economy.

Pam challenged the group with further reading of the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Leadership Venango will meet again on April 10 at the Venango County Fairgrounds on Empowering Your Community. For more information, visit leadershipvenango.org.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s April 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Leadership Venango Holds Sixth Session: Importance of an Educated Workforce


On Wednesday, February 13, the Venango Leadership Class met at Clarion University – Venango for the monthly class which focused on preparing a ready workforce, career and education alliances, 40 developmental assets and generational differences. The information presented was a mix of new ideas in addition themes formerly introduced during prior meetings.

Tammy Dulaney, Coordinator for Continuing Education at Clarion University, started the day with a deeper insight into the state higher education system (PASSHE) and their relationship with employers, students and career training opportunities. Notable points included the availability of state funds that will reimburse employers for their investment in training costs for their employees in addition to a list of state-approved apprenticeships that students can also utilize as credits toward a degree. Tammy is available to local businesses and students to help connect them to these resources!

Next up, Eileen Mullen, Program Coordinator for Crawford County K-12 Career Education Alliance, wowed the class with evidence of the growing partnerships between Crawford area businesses and School Districts to provide educational opportunities, career readiness experiences and much more for local students throughout each year. How can all this be accomplished with limited funds and staffing? Simply put, passion and effective communication techniques to garner support. This left the class clamoring for more and a keen interest on seeing something like this develop within Venango County.

Over lunch, Matt LaVerde, Asst. Exec. Director of IU5, focused his discussion on the importance of the 40 developmental assets that play a pivotal role in determining the overall success and general wellness of youth as they age into adulthood. There are many external factors to be mindful of as we all play a vital role in shaping the success (or not) of developing our youth. Judy Etzel, staff writer at The Derrick, and Heather Motter, Cranberry High School English Teacher, followed that conversation up by sharing their experience working together under the state-initiated Teacher in the Workforce program. This discussion reminded attendees of the importance of empathy, curiosity and shared knowledge that impact all of our lives.

Finally, Susan Hileman, Strategic Business Advisor for NWIRC NW Region, made a return visit to the class with a presentation on generational differences. This conversation focused on the preferred learning habits, general societal views and unique experiences within each generation. All of factors shape a person’s personality, attitude, work mindset and much more which needs to be considered when making decisions in the workplace.        

Leadership Venango will meet again on March 13th at Komatsu in Franklin. For more information visit leadershipvenango.org

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s March 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Leadership Venango Holds Fifth Session: Leading a Healthy Community


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On January 9, the class of Leadership Venango met at UPMC Northwest for an enlightening session about achieving a healthy community.  Joyce Morgan, Director of Patient and Community Relations and Diabetes Center, and Cheri Siverling, Director of the Family Birthing Center, shared some of the struggles Venango County faces from a healthcare standpoint. UPMC Northwest conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) every three years.  The hospital identifies three areas of significant health needs of our community. Resources and programs then center around these areas.  Currently, the areas of focus are diabetes, respiratory diseases, and maternal infant health.

Joyce highlighted the Better Breathing Clinic and Smoking Cessation classes that UPMC offers, as well as the opportunity for individual instruction with a Diabetes Educator. Cheri discussed the high occurrence of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in Venango County. NAS is a group of problems associated with withdrawal that occurs when a baby has been exposed to certain drugs in the mother’s womb. Sadly, Venango County is the 3rd highest county for infants diagnosed with NAS, according to the PA Healthcare Cost Containment Council Bulletin in December 2018. Many services are available to help these families through Human Services and Community Services. 

Following Joyce and Cheri, Aaron Rosen, Senior HR Consultant for UPMC, shared insight on creating a healthy work community. Aaron shared UPMC’s five core values they expect each employee to uphold. They build the culture of UPMC Northwest around these values and they are what they look for when hiring a new employee or evaluating current employees.  Aaron stated: “You must create an environment that employees want to work in; when you have happy employees they inherently give better care to the patients.”

The class then took a quick tour of the new Hillman Cancer Center, TeleMed unit, and Stroke unit and got to hear about the successes of each. Though UPMC Northwest is located in a smaller community, they offer many state-of-the-art services to their patients and are on the cutting edge of new technology.

Brian Durniok, President of UPMC Northwest, spent some time with the class following lunch. He discussed his management style, the importance of delegating, and how he empowers his employees to make quick decisions. The class was able to spend some time in a dynamic discussion on current affairs of the hospital and healthcare in general with Brian.

The class ended the day with Joe Croskey, who is a Mindfulness Coach and Assistant Professor at Clarion University. Joe led the class in meditation and breathing exercises and talked about how to be a mindful listener. He spoke on the importance of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and reminded the class to be intentional with themselves and others.

The 2019 class of Leadership Venango will meet again on February 13 at Venango College. For more information, visit leadershipvenango.org

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s February 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Leadership Venango Holds Fourth Session: Maximizing Clean Communications


Leadership Venango LogoThe 2019 Class of Leadership Venango met on December 12 at the PennDOT District Office in Oil City.  The fourth session of the nine-month program focused on various aspects of interpersonal and professional communications.

James Foringer, the District Executive of PennDOT District 1, started the session by giving an overview of PennDOT’s vision, mission and what District 1 is responsible for in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Jillian Harry, PennDOT District 1 Community Relations Coordinator, then gave a presentation on communications with and through local media partners.  Jill provided her perspective as a former reporter on what types of media are present in this region and what kinds of information media outlets are seeking.

Ashley Cowles, program manager at the Venango Chamber and co-owner of Core Goods in Oil City, then provided tips and strategies for using social media to market your business and communicate with customers.  The class learned a great deal about branding, algorithms and how to manage multiple social media platforms.

The class enjoyed lunch at the Venango Museum where they had the opportunity to meet two sponsors of the program.  The team projects were discussed and the students unanimously agreed that the program provided a great value to them all.

Susan Hileman, Strategic Business Advisor for Northwest IRC, provided the afternoon presentation on effective communications.  The class learned about communication structures, channels and barriers.  An emphasis was placed on the importance of active listening, with several exercises to teach the class methods to become better listeners. Also discussed were the differences in the cultures and perspectives of the five generations present in the workforce today.

The next session is scheduled for January 9 at UPMC Northwest, where the class will focus on leading a healthy community. For more information, visit leadershipvenango.org.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s January 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.