All posts tagged leadership

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 Final Session, Graduates Class of 2019


The 2019 Class of Leadership Venango held it’s final session on May 8 at Drake Well Museum in Titusville.

The class of 13 began the day with a segment on the Be Here Initiative led by Program Manager Ashley Cowles. Ashley led the class in a training, making them official Ambassadors of the program. The class shared their favorite things about Venango County, and discussed some of the problems the area faces and how to remain positive in the face of challenges.

Betsy Kellner, director of the Venango Museum, then spoke with the class on the importance of community partnerships. In her work at the museum, Betsy is a partner to many other local organizations, some unexpected.

The class then heard from Emily Altomare, Communications and Tourism Manager at the Oil Region Alliance (ORA). Emily spoke on tourism and attracting visitors to the region. She said tourism is the second largest economic driver in the state, and should not be overlooked. Emily shared tips for being a welcoming resident and told the class about some exciting plans the ORA has for increasing and improving tourism.

After lunch, Melissa Mann, Drake Well Museum Site Administrator, gave an overview of the history of the museum and the region. They then got a quick tour of the grounds.

To finish out the day, the class heard from Charlie Cotherman, pastor of Oil City Vineyard Church, on how to be a leader people want to follow. Those who have heard Charlie speak know he is a powerful orator and the class felt no different, many saying he was a favorite of the whole program and a great way to end their nine months.

At the end of the day, the class reflected on the program, giving suggestions and mentioning favorite presenters and topics. This year’s participants have been invited to sit on an Advisory Council to assist in planning future sessions.

Graduation

The Class of 2019 celebrated their graduation on May 22 at the National Transit Building in Oil City.

The participants worked on team projects over the last nine months and were able to present their findings to a group of their peers and supervisors ahead of the graduation celebration.

The three groups focused on the issue of workforce development, specifically in school-age children, through the lens of students, educators, and businesses. Their projects were all informative and thoughtfully done.

The graduation ceremony was held following the presentations, and many of the participants’ families joined them to celebrate their accomplishment.

See more photos HERE!

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