All posts tagged leadership program

Leadership Venango Accepting Applications


The 2019 2020 Leadership Venango Class will hold their kick off retreat on September 12 13, 2019, followed by monthly full day sessions through May of 2020. This program is a significant commitment of money and time.

So, why should you consider investing in such an activity or encouraging someone else to do so? You may already be in a position where you are managing others, through your title or simply your areas of responsibility. Perhaps you’ve already taken classes, read books, and served in leadership positions. We encourage you not to dismiss this opportunity to further enhance your leadership journey, which is sure to be newly informed by the changing times, a diverse class make up, and an array of great speakers and activities.

Tessa Byham, a graduate of the inaugural class remarks “My favorite things about Leadership Venango were the connections made within the class, getting out into the community and learning about the different businesses and locations, and growing professionally in my ability and confidence in my networking skills.”

Ryan Sweeney adds “This program is a great value to the area and the people involved. I gained so much knowledge about the area that I didn’t know and also gained some great connections both in the class and with presenters.”

Emily Lewis, another member of the class of 2019, said: “Leadership Venango taught me that there are many traits of a good leader but the most important is the ability to truly listen and lean in to challenging issues. I feel I am a better equipped member of my community because of my participation in this program.”

If you have any questions about Leadership Venango, please visit www.leadershipvenango.com for details or contact the Chamber office and we’d be happy to meet with you. Registration is open and scholarships are available.

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

Everyone is a Leader


When many hear the word “leader,” they imagine a CEO, executive director, or president. At the FLEX Speakers Series in June, panel participants assured attendees that “everyone is a leader.” The panel consisted of six of the 13 graduates of the inaugural class of Leadership Venango, the Venango Chamber’s new leadership program.

Brian McNulty, Randy Arnold, Dan Flaherty, Greg Lander, Ashley Smith, and Tessa Byham shared their experience and advice from the nine-month program. Leadership Venango is designed to identify, educate, involve and motivate individuals who desire to become more effective leaders, and participants got to know the region.

“It wasn’t just about leadership, but about getting to know your community,” said Ashley. “Most of the places we visited are hiring and expanding, and our eyes were opened to all we have here.”

Several sessions helped participants learn more about themselves, too, and involved personality tests, mindfulness, and diversity.

“Many of the activities helped us build self-awareness, which in turn makes us better leaders in our community and work,” said Tessa.

“Learning my strengths and weaknesses enlightened me and has helped me strategize how I can use those to better work with others,” Brian added.

The participants networked with local leaders, as well as the other participants, forming a “family” they described. “We found we’re not all that different and were able to grow and develop together,” said Dan. “We learned the community needs people to step up and this program gave us the empowerment and skills to do that.”

At the Speaker Series, each panelist covered a topic, including honorable leadership, community, economic development, and communications. “Leadership is what you make of it and the value you bring in your position,” said Randy.

The Chamber is currently accepting applications for the next class, which begins in September.

“Leadership is not knowing all the answers, but where to find them,” Greg said. “This program helped us build connections and knowledge to do just that.”

Learn more about Leadership Venango, at leadershipvenango.org or get  in touch with us—we can connect you with graduates who are happy to share more about the program.

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) July 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

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.