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Next Leadership Cape Coral class forming

By Staff | Jun 14, 2009

In 1993, the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral opened the doors to the inner workings of the city through a program called Leadership Cape Coral.
The program was designed to give businessmen and women of the Cape a chance to network and get to know other business people in the community and city government, and develop into the civic leaders that would lead the community into the future.
Sixteen years and more than 400 graduates later, the chamber is accepting applications for the 2009 Leadership Cape Coral Program, but the goal remains unchanged
“Our focus is to communicate to the folks all the pieces, parts it takes to run a city,” chamber President Mike Quaintance said.
The 13-week session starts in August and includes themed days to allow participants the opportunity to go behind the scenes of a variety of functions vital to the city’s operation and success.
The group meets one day a week and features leadership days, including Team Building Day, Public Safety Day, Healthcare Day, Education Day, Infrastructure Day, Made In Cape Coral Day, Real Estate/Construction Day, Industry Appreciate Day, Media Day, Sheriff’s Day, Mosquito Control Day, City Government Day and Art & Entertainment Day.
On city government day, Quaintance said, the leadership class will have the opportunity to take part in a mock city council meeting.
“This really allows the class to get an understanding of what it is like to be a decision-maker,” he said. “Until they see it they really don’t know. We will have people arguing both sides of an issue and then they will see what they have to go through.”
Additionally, the group will get a deeper understanding of other aspects of the city’s operation as the group progresses through a myriad learning opportunities.
“They will learn about the various needs of organizations like Special Populations, we’ll tour city parks and learn how LCEC operates,” Quaintance said.
He said the lessons learned during the leadership program foster community stewardship and help develop business people into leaders.
Cape Coral Construction Industry Association Executive Director Patti Schnell and State Rep. Gary Aubuchon are both graduates of the program, Quaintance said.
Another well known alumnus is Joe Mazurkiewicz.
“You get a real behind-the-scenes look at how the community really operates by gaining access to community leaders and learning how things work,” he said. “The other half is the connection you make with the other leadership classmates, and it’s not just during the program. Once you graduate, you become an integral part of the community along with all the other people who have gone through the program.”
Mazurkiewicz, a former mayor of Cape Coral who runs the government consulting firm BJM Consulting and is the vice president of academic affairs at IMPAC University in Punta Gorda, said he still interacts with his classmates of 16 years and is still involved in all of the leadership events, and hopes he and his fellow alumni have set a good example and will be a good resource for recruiting future classes.
Seemingly, the success of previous program participants has bolstered the incoming ranks of new Leadership Cape Coral classes.
John Bolam, a salesman with Transworld Systems profit recovery and collection company in Cape Coral, graduated with the class of 2008 and found himself pleasantly surprised by the program
“It’s funny how fast the weeks go by,” he said. “You find yourself really looking forward to each day. The way it was set up was such a great experience.”
Bolam said he was most intrigued by the diversity of businesses in the Cape, like Marine Concepts on Pine Island Road that specializes in fiberglass tooling and other, non-construction or service industry-related businesses.
“A lot of people have no idea what’s going on in Cape Coral,” he said. “It would be nice if they were promoted more. We are not just a building community.”
Bolam said he initially joined the class to make business contacts but left with a commitment to bettering the community through volunteering and service.
Like so many before, the Leadership Cape Coral Class of 2008 continues its dedication to the community long after its final class.
Rich Behn heads up the group’s alumni association and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’re looking to reinvigorate the association and make sure everyone who has gone through the program stays involved,” he said. “We’ve divvied up the duties to make sure the alumni is there to support our leadership.”
Supporting the new classes, he said, is also a priority.
“The alumni group sponsors the kickoff at the beginning of each class, a gathering midway through and the graduation ceremony,” Behn said. “Our goal is for the leadership program to be a grassroots effort to provide networking support.”
The deadline to enroll in the this year’s class is June 26.
For more information, call Stephanie Roberson at 699-8442 or Quaintance at 549-6900.