This evening I am honored to graduate from the Leadership Manatee program sponsored by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.   The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had over the past 6 months have been incredible.  It’s easy to realize the community where we live, work and play is amazing.  But what you learn and experience over the course of the Leadership program is bound to educate even the most generational Bradentonians.  If I had to pay a dollar every time I said “wow I didn’t know that” I would be dirt poor right now.

I'm blinking Chris Sharek
I’m blinking Chris Sharek

The course spans six months, and every two weeks the class spends an entire day focused on specific themes important to our community.  This year’s sessions focused on the following topics:

  • Communications and Culture
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Land Use and Transportation
  • Agriculture
  • Law Enforcement
  • Business and Industry
  • Local Government
  • Human Needs

Most days we visited as many as eight different businesses or organizations critical to the backbone of our community.  Companies in our backyards working on cures for Alzheimer’s, farms supplying produce to the largest food chains in the world, schools offering nationally renowned technical programs for their students, non-profits coordinating logistics to help our disadvantaged that would make the folks in brown trucks proud.  That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what we saw!

And let’s not forget the Simulated Society (SIMSOC) exercise we had to endure our first two days together.  I would go into more detail about what we did over those two days but we’ve all sworn a blood oath to never speak of the secrets enshrouded in the SIMSOC exercise….  

So through these six months I’ve learned the community where I call home is even more wonderful than I ever imagined, and there are some pretty great people I got to know who I may not otherwise have met.   (Even Chris Sharek of Atkins Global who accused me of sleeping in the picture I included in this post.  I was caught mid-blink darn-it!  Thanks for the photo Arthur….)

More importantly I also learned there are challenges we face as a community to insure we continue to evolve with the world around us to stay competitive.  The smallest contribution we make back to our community can make a bigger impact than you can imagine.   I’m a richer person for the experiences I’ve had and I’m deeply appreciative for having been given the opportunity to participate.

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