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Taking The Lead

Featured Photo from Taking The Lead

The new Leadership Maitland program is off to an impressive start.

As the inaugural Leadership Maitland class graduates and the program gets ready for its second year, the community will begin to reap the benefits of the relationships that have been cultivated.

In order to develop regional leaders, the Maitland Area Chamber of Commerce recently launched its own community leadership program based on the model that has been such a success in Seminole County, Orlando, and other cities across the state.

“We were aware of other regional leadership programs, and our chamber members have been asking about it for years,” says Jeff Aames, the new executive director of the Maitland Area Chamber of Commerce. “One of our new members had gone through the program in Plant City and Tampa, and she agreed to spearhead the program for us.”

That member, Kelleigh Klein, knew firsthand how beneficial the program was, which was why she was happy to help Maitland get its own leadership program off the ground.

“I spoke to Jeff about how we could bring something to the chamber that would be attractive to members and add value to their membership,” Kelleigh recalls. “I brought up the leadership program, and he suggested I create a proposal outlining the program and its benefits.”

The purpose of Leadership Maitland is to introduce class members to important facets of the greater Maitland community through an intensive nine-month program. The inaugural class started with an opening day retreat in September 2015 and ended with a graduation ceremony in May of this year. During the program’s daylong sessions, members participated in educational classes, tours, and candid conversations with community leaders. Topics included education, law enforcement, social services, the environment, economic development, and the arts.

Kelleigh, president of Synergy HomeCare, says the goal is to provide opportunities for members to engage with established and emerging leaders and explore regional issues and assets.

“The idea is to showcase the community and expand personal and professional networks for the benefit of the region,” Kelleigh says. “After going through the program, you truly feel like you know more about the community and its businesses than most residents.”

Members of the inaugural class met every month for briefings, tours, and hands-on learning. The program brought in top-level business, civic, and government leaders for an interactive, behind-the-scenes look at Maitland. Through participation in the program, members were able to build both business and personal contacts, as well as get connected and engaged in the community like they had never done before.

“Leadership Maitland has been a fantastic and educational experience I would not have otherwise been afforded had I not chosen to be involved,” says Kevin Stewart, a member of the inaugural class. “I have been both humbled to serve in the community and enriched by everything that makes Maitland such a great place to work and live.”

Attorney Hallie Zobel also had a great experience as a member of the inaugural class.

“Professionally, I’ve increased my knowledge of the city around me and have met wonderful people who have businesses in the same community and share the same interests as me,” she says. “Leadership Maitland has been a wonderful behind-the-curtain peek at our great city and all it has to offer.”

Jeff, who also enjoyed learning about different aspects of the community and seeing firsthand examples of community leadership in action, is already excited to get the next class rolling. Sign-up for the Leadership Maitland class will begin this summer, and Jeff is encouraging everyone he knows to get involved.

“There’s so much knowledge to be gained,” he says, “but the best part about the program is that it helps cultivate relationships that will ultimately benefit the community as a whole.”

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