Elkhart Leadership Academy - Guiding Our Future Leaders
Throughout the nine-month Academy, there are different focus days, which include a team-building overnight retreat; community connections; quality of life; economics/government/entrepreneurship; ethical decision making/diversity; conflict resolution/board development/problem solving; arts & culture/visionary skills; and education.
Chamber Board Chair Brian Clark, Sanders Pianowski LLP, was in the 1996-97 class. When asked how the Elkhart Leadership Academy changed his view of our community, he said, “The Leadership Academy helped me appreciate the different organizations that work on behalf of Elkhart citizens both to enhance our business environment and to enhance our community. It also helped instill in me the need to be involved in the community and give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family.”
Glen Kauffmann, Heritage Financial Group, Inc., was in the 2002-03 class. He found the Academy “broadened my horizons and knowledge of Elkhart and the organizations that operate here. It is a good way to become better acquainted with the community, local government, non-profits and the arts.”
Andrew Hicks of Warrick & Boyn was in the 2003-04 class, and has served on the Leadership Steering Council for 10 years. He was new to the community in 2003, and discovered “how much Elkhart County has to offer, especially its rich heritage, entrepreneurial spirit, and business climate.” Like Andrew, many graduates serve on the Leadership Steering Council to direct the program for future participants.
Denise Polachek, staff liaison for the Academy, notices a big difference in participants from when they begin the class and when they graduate. Their eyes are opened to how wonderful this community is, and ideas are formed as to how, as a part of the Leadership Academy, they can create ways to help make it better, she said.
Serving on Community Boards
Many Academy graduates have participated in local non-profit boards and service clubs, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Church Community Services, Downtown Elkhart Inc., Elkhart Education Foundation, Junior Achievement/Lemonade Day, Kiwanis, Loveway, Rotary, Salvation Army, United Cancer Services, United Way, Youth for Christ/Lifeline, and YWCA. Eleven graduates are on the current Chamber Board.
Chamber Council Leadership
Several graduates serve as Council Chairs and lead the Chamber’s program of work through the councils.
Steve Brown (1996-97), Annual Golf Outing
Melody Neagu (2010-11), Leadership Steering
Glen Kauffmann (2002-03), Technology
Kent Schumacher (2000-01), Transportation
Lori Snyder (1997-98), Economic Development/Legislative Affairs
Each class participates in projects for the betterment of the community. Some of the notable past projects:
Dart For The Arts – Run/Walk Fundraiser for the Lerner Theatre, raised $15,000
Built a home from start to finish for Habitat for Humanity
Remodeled the kitchen and provided new appliances for Tolson Center
Golf Outing for CARES / raised $10,000 for books to be given to every first grader in Elkhart Community Schools (purchased book from local author Mark Tarner - South Bend Chocolate Company)
Clothes drive and Bowl-A-Thon for the Elkhart Women’s Shelter – raised almost $11,000 in cash and collected over 400 pounds of clothes
The 2015-16 class divided into three groups to choose and complete projects.
Bashor Children’s Home - Raised funds and helped in the renovation of an emergency homeless shelter for teens. Danielle Miller, Mosaic, said she feels this is important because youth are the most worthwhile investment into our future. Others in the group are Shelly Crawford, INOVA Federal Credit Union; Lane Davis, Crowe Horwath LLP; Elizabeth Fisher, Kem Krest; and Kathryn Jones, Overhead Door Company of Mishawaka.
Five Star Life - Raised funds and renovated cabins for the youth camp in Union. Stephen Beasy, Kruggel, Lawton and Company, LLC, chose Five Star Life because “we have all struggled hiring people that have a work ethic and Five Star Life is teaching kids to be responsible and to develop a work ethic.” Others in the group are Vonda Litwiller, Elkhart Public Library; Jared Newburg, BABSCO Supply Inc.; Joshua Noakes, Kem Krest; Joshua Rohde, Yoder Oil Company, Inc.; Michael Rowland, KeyBank; and Matt Schrock, DJ Construction Co., Inc.
Ryan’s Place - Developed marketing materials, including a website and 1,500 information packets that were mailed to local businesses to raise funds towards hiring a grief counselor that speaks Spanish. Members of the group are Adam Cantwell, Welch Packaging Group Inc.; Matthew Cranny, Overhead Door Company of Mishawaka; Amanda Greene, YWCA North Central Indiana; Seth Hartman, Ancon Construction Co., Inc.; Christopher Pottratz, Warrick & Boyn, LLP; Mark Robinson, Indiana Michigan Power; and John Schmidlin, McGladrey.
The projects for this year’s class will be presented at the Elkhart Leadership Academy Graduation Luncheon on Wednesday, May 11 from 11:30 am - 1 pm at the Crystal Ballroom at the Lerner.
A Great Opportunity
Monica Abair, Valley Screen Products, was in the 2014-15 class and worked on the Women’s Shelter project. “If you have an opportunity to be in the Academy I would highly recommend it. You not only learn about the community but you will be a different person when it is over. You will see Leadership differently through Servant Leadership eyes, and knowing it is not about you, it is about the community and how you can help make a difference. You also learn a lot about collaboration.”
Burne Miller, with Troyer Group, Inc., participated in the Academy in 1996-97. “You will gain insights, network contacts, and valuable experiences. And if all goes well, you might even make some lifetime friends from it.”
Andy Kominowski, Welch Packaging, sums it up, “It is a great opportunity to learn about Elkhart and make some friends along the way.”
- 02/03/2017 - Chamber announces legislative positions
The Board of Directors for the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce has identified these Regional priorities for the 2017 Legislative session:
- 01/30/2017 - The road to roads
Our Chamber has advocated for long-term, dedicated highway funding for a long time.
- 01/23/2017 - Our modern Chamber will look like a modern Chamber
As you know we have a very effecting and influential Chamber of Commerce.
- 01/16/2017 - New year = new legislature
The year is still early enough that we are still saying “happy new year” to each other.
- 01/09/2017 - Not done yet
Faster and safer, but not fast enough or safe enough.
- 01/03/2017 - Interns help you and the community
Right now, our companies are struggling to find skilled workers
- 12/19/2016 - Our volunteers are great
Last week, I thanked our outgoing and incoming members of our Board of Directors.
- 12/12/2016 - Farewell and Welcome
Later this week, we will be transitioning our Board of Directors.
- 11/28/2016 - Overtime rule blocked
A federal judge blocked the new overtime rule that was set to take effect December 1.
- 11/21/2016 - Power of the purchase
It’s Thanksgiving week. I’m looking forward to eating too much and taking part in some of the other festivities
- 07/18/2016 - Pence announcement … a job for you
Late last week, Donald Trump tapped our Governor, Mike Pence, as his running mate for the Republican Presidential ticket.
- 07/11/2016 - While you were away…
As some of you know, I was out of the office for the past couple weeks. Part of that time, I was in Yellowstone National Park, where cell phone signals don’t exist.
- 06/27/2016 - Golf Outing Door Prize Winners
- 06/06/2016 - It is time for vibrancy
Remember when we told you about the huge community kick-off event for the Vibrant Communities initiative?
- 05/23/2016 - Wish I had paid more attention
Back when I was young and immortal, I didn’t think about my financial future too much.
- 05/16/2016 - Getting lean
Some of you know about how your Chamber helps companies cut the inefficiencies out of their process
- 05/09/2016 - Leaders never really graduate
Businesses, and communities for that matter, are looking for leaders
- 05/02/2016 - Building downtown
Your Chamber has agreed to lead downtown economic development for the City of Elkhart.
- 04/25/2016 - Non-motorized moving
Some of you have stopped by the Chamber and seen my bicycle parked in my office. I like to ride my bike to work when I can.
- 04/18/2016 - A rose by any other name
We are proud to announce that your Chamber is the home of the Center for Business Excellence. The Center will help large and small companies improve their process and reduce waste
- 04/11/2016 - Now it’s up to us
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a ceremonial bill signing with Governor Mike Pence. He signed the legislation that fully funded the Regional Cities grants.
- 04/05/2016 - Catalytic Leadership Starts Here
It is a challenge to find a leader. It is a challenge to BE a leader.
- 04/04/2016 - Elkhart Leadership Academy - Guiding Our Future Leaders
For almost 30 years, the Elkhart Leadership Academy has been guiding future community leaders.
- 04/02/2016 - Students Complete 2016 Young Entrepreneurs Academy
The Elkhart Chamber Young Entrepreneurs Academy will graduate its 5th class of students in May, a total of over 60 graduates since the program began in 2012.
- 04/01/2016 - Ambassador of the Month
Anji Metzler, First Call Staffing
- 04/01/2016 - Ambassador of the Month
Hugh Johnson, J2 Marketing, LLC
- 02/01/2016 - Working Together to Transform our Region
Regional Cities and Vibrant Communities are putting the Elkhart area at the forefront of new economic development
- 01/29/2016 - Ambassador of the Month
Lori Swihart, WSBT Radio Group
- 12/01/2015 - A STRONG year for our CHAMBER and our COMMUNITY
2015 was an active year in the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.
- 12/01/2015 - Downtown Elkhart
Thanks to SoMa, downtown Elkhart became a more attractive place in 2015 with new features that guide visitors to restaurants, attractions and parking and add colorful flair in unexpected spots.
- 12/01/2015 - Transportation
The Chamber has long been recognized as a transportation advocate. These key projects will be completed in 2015.
- 12/01/2015 - Indiana Toll Road Travel Plaza Master Plan focus of Breakfast
The Indiana Toll Road spans 157 miles across Northern Indiana from Ohio to the Illinois state line and is a major economic corridor.
- 12/01/2015 - Business and Education Partnership Award Given to Centier Bank
The Greater Elkhart Chamber Education/Career Development Council has presented their 3rd Quarter Business and Education Partnership Award to Centier Bank.
- 12/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Evelyn Johnston, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate Services
- 11/09/2015 - Non-Profit agencies impacted by local purchases
When local businesses and their employees contribute to local non-profit organizations, everyone wins.
- 11/05/2015 - The Impact Beyond the Purchase
Beyond every action, every single dollar spent, there is a ripple effect.
- 11/04/2015 - Not what you buy, but where
When you buy from a local company, you are supporting the employees who live in your community.
- 11/02/2015 - Business and Education Partnership Award Given to Elkhart Public Library
The Greater Elkhart Chamber Education/Career Development Council has presented their 2nd Quarter Business and Education Partnership Award to the Elkhart Public Library.
- 11/02/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Spherion Staffing, Hugh Johnson
- 11/02/2015 - Business and Education Partnership Award Given to Elkhart Public Library
Elkhart Public Library given Business and Education Partnership Award
- 10/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Beacon Consulting, Tom Miller
- 09/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Loretta Salchert, Ribbon of Hope
- 08/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Shelly Crawford, INOVA Federal Credit Union
- 07/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Michael Wolff, Life Style Photography
- 06/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Dave Herrli, GLASS DOCTOR
- 05/27/2015 - Education Council looks for partners in welcoming new educators
Sponsorships are needed for the canvas gift bags and items to fill the bags.
- 05/01/2015 - Help for your business
Business resources available with NCI, SCORE, SBDC, & EDC.
- - Northern Indiana Coalition of Chambers 2016 Legislative Positions
The Northern Indiana Coalition of Chambers works together on issues of importance to the Northern Indiana Region. The Six-County coalition has identified these four Regional priorities for the 2016 Legislative session:
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