The Rapidian

2010 Emerging Leaders Series: Successful CCL Program for Young Professionals

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 "This was an amazing program that I cannot wait to encourage others to apply for. I am very grateful for all of the work put into this program and the opportunity to hear from community leaders and representatives from many different areas of Grand Rapids." - ELS Graduate

/Danielle VanderLugt

This summer, the Center for Community Leadership launched its first ever Emerging Leaders Series (ELS) program for young professionals. ELS took the place of "Download GR," which was a one-day community orientation program intended for young professionals new to the area. The new program extended over four half-day sessions and included panel discussions, professional development, community engagement, board training, and the opportunity to meet with key community and business leaders with the ultimate goal of exposing the participants to community initiatives and trends that are shaping the future of Grand Rapids. According to the participants these goals were effectively met:


"I really enjoyed the experience and the series. I picked up a lot of helpful information which I can reflect upon as I become more active in the community."

The class was made up of a wide variety of both personal and professional backgrounds and the class was able to develop a strong bond with one another over the course of the program. One ELS grad commented, "For once, I felt right at home in a room of people. This group will challenge me to grow and improve and hopefully lead the charge to continually improve Grand Rapids. I want this city to match our ambitions."

The Emerging Leaders Series made Grand Rapids its classroom by using a variety of locations around the city, such as the GVSU bicycle Factory, Saint Mary's, Lacks Cancer Center, Inner City Christian Federation, and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. After each session, the participants were invited to a wind down at a nearby local restaurant to discuss the session and continue to build relationships. One of the participants noted that: "Parts of the community I didn't know existed were exposed to me."

Overall, the program has received extremely positive feedback and we are working to enhance the program for next year. 

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