Leadership program graduates honored

A group of 28 people learned about their community, met with local officials and even did a little ballroom dancing during the just-completed 2013-2014 Leadership Fort Dodge program.

The series of classes conducted by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance is intended to give people the information they need to become local leaders.

”A lot of great things have come out of it,” Brandon Hansel, a new graduate of the program, said Tuesday evening. ”It helps create a strong sense of ownership among the folks in town.”

Hansel and fellow graduate Shelly Blunk spoke during a Leadership Fort Dodge graduation event held at Fort Frenzy, 3232 First Ave. S.

Also during the event, Gary Eischeid, a retired Army National Guard and Army Reserve brigadier general who is now the general manager of the POET Biorefining plant near Gowrie, gave a presentation on what he believes constitutes good leadership.

Eischeid said a good leader is someone who works for the people they supervise, and strives to help them be successful.

”You work for that team that reports to you,” he said. ”The bottom line is you’re not any better than that janitor that cleans the stools.”

Leadership Fort Dodge started 10 years ago. It features professional presentations, tours of businesses and agencies, and interaction with local and state leaders.

Education, government, business and economic development, health and human services, the criminal justice system, media and quality of life are among the topics covered.

The program begins each September and ends the following May. During that time, participants spend one day a month on Leadership Fort Dodge activities. Enrollment is limited to 28 people.

Blunk, the director of economic development and industry training at Iowa Central Community College, said she was reluctant to enter the program because she was born and raised in Fort Dodge. She said she figured that she already knew everything about the community. After completing the program, she learned she was wrong about that.

”I have learned such a great deal of information and I met all of you fabulous people,” she said.

She issued a challenge to her fellow graduates.

”I challenge you to talk about the positive things going on in Fort Dodge,” Blunk said.

Hansel, the financial services director for the Fort Dodge Community School District, joked that his legs were still sore from the ballroom dancing that was part of a session on quality of life.

He said the program showed him that ”my community is what I make of it.”

Eischeid said when he arrived at the ethanol plant, he had one message for the employees there: ”I’m here and I work for you.”

”I’m here to make you successful because I have the rank or the management position to make that happen,” he added.

He said a great leader must be consistent, dependable, able to listen to others and be open-minded to other ideas.