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Leadership focus of nonprofit programs

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Todd Cohen

A Wachovia financial adviser visited a high school and talked to students about the value of saving money.

The head of a mentoring program for middle-school students in Chapel Hill teamed with the head of a similar program in Tyrrell County to develop a service project for that rural community.

And two principals got a chance to get outside their high schools and network with business and nonprofit executives.

Fostering all those efforts were nonprofit leadership-development programs.

While they differ in their clientele and services, four leadership programs in the Triangle aim to help leaders shape and share their own vision and connect with their communities.

“Leadership is about creating clarity, reducing ambiguity and creating that vision of what the truth or the kernel of quest is you’re after, making it very clear to people, and then you employ your skills or knowledge to try to execute that,” says Karen Y. Palasek, director of educational and academic programs for the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh.

Morris Fellowship

The E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders, a year-long program of the Locke Foundation, focuses on developing “citizen leaders” and encouraging them to play greater leadership roles in their professions and communities.

Underwritten by the E.A. Morris Charitable Foundation in Greensboro and the John William Pope Foundation in Raleigh, the Raleigh-based program generally targets leaders age 25 to 40 and emphasizes leadership skills, ethical behavior and the principles of individual liberty and free enterprise.

The free program, including three retreats and at least four other seminars or conferences, also aims to help nonprofits and businesses both recognize their respective contributions to the marketplace and society, Palasek says.

Wildacres Leadership

The Durham-based Wildacres Leadership Initiative, created and funded by the Blumenthal Foundation in Charlotte, focuses on human relations, or “authentic engagement across differences,” says Sterling Freeman, executive director.

“We’re talking about analyzing and wrestling with the systems of power and privilege that separate us, and how we either collude in those systems, or how we are hampered by those systems,” says Freeman.

The free, two-year program consists of 20 William C. Friday Fellows who meet for a long weekend of skills training six times a year, develop collaborative leadership projects, and continue to network after completing their fellowships.

Leadership Triangle

Leadership Triangle, launched in 2000 by the Triangle Community Foundation in Durham and rebooted in 2002 by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh,
focuses on regionalism.

The Durham-based Leadership Triangle offers a fee-based personal-leadership coaching program in the fall, a fee-based regional-leadership program in the winter and spring, and a free networking program for corporate executives, and sponsors annual leadership awards named for Jim Goodmon, CEO of Capitol Broadcasting and chairman of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. [The Philanthropy Journal is a publication of the A.J.Fletcher Foundation.]

The programs aim to connect leaders and help them learn to “gain willing followers when the path is unknown” and understand the interconnectedness of social issues, says Winkie LaForce, executive director.

Emerging Tar Heel Leaders

Emerging Tar Heel Leaders, formed in 2005, connects young professionals interested in public life.

A key goal is creating connections “across professionals, across the Triangle, across different types of organizations,” says Catherine Moga-Bryant, senior program evaluator at the N.C. General Assembly and board president for the all-volunteer group.

The group hosts free monthly lunches featuring guest speakers, a monthly social hour and periodic issues forums.

A key challenge, says Moga-Bryant, is finding ways “to connect young people who are becoming leaders but spend a lot of time getting established” and balancing their work and their personal lives.

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