Welcome guest blogger Susan Turner; Senior Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and co-creator of the Wabash Valley Leadership Institute. 


I woke up Monday morning with that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach; that feeling of butterflies fluttering around and stirring questions. It was official. I was nervous. Nervous the participants wouldn’t show up, nervous the speakers would be late, nervous I would be cursed by technology, nervous the third cohort of the Wabash Valley Leadership Institute wouldn’t be successful, not because of the participants, but because of the unknowns. But, I remembered all the time, effort and planning that took place to make sure this week was an exceptional experience for this particular group of leaders in our community. So, I got out of bed and got ready for work.

All my worry was for nothing. As we enter the third day of the WVLI, a week-long, intense leadership development program, this group of 15 leaders is having a wonderful time. This experience is hard to define. Not your typical leadership development program, the WVLI is rooted in academics and committed to providing the participants with new personal leadership skills. There’s also a special bond that happens between people when they participate in a residential program. They have already formed a bond they will carry with them when they leave this place. They have learned about their personal leadership identity, how to collaborate within the community, the importance of team building, conflict resolution skills and any number of other leadership lessons. Most importantly, they are taking this time to learn about themselves, add skills to their leadership tool box, form deep community relationships and have some fun. This particular group of individuals represents many industries including healthcare, education, law enforcement, finance, media and small business. Their reasons for being here are as varied as the people themselves. But, what I see happening with this group is exciting. They are embracing this process and are eager to learn and do more.

Only time will tell the impact of the third cohort of the Wabash Valley Leadership Institute. But, I can promise you I am not nervous about how this group of awesome leaders will change our community for the better. I know they will do great things!