Business Leaders Gather For Development Retreat

More than 20 people representing businesses and organizations from throughout the county gathered in a classroom in Bellinger Hall recently to begin a two-and-a-half day retreat designed to recognize and further develop each person’s leadership skills and build new relationships with other community leaders.

The retreat is the first of several programs scheduled for Chautauqua Leadership Network’s Class of 2013 in the coming months. Now in its 21st year, the Chautauqua Leadership Network is a not-for-profit organization designed to identify, recruit, train and network area professionals. To date, more than 400 county residents have participated in the program, which was founded to develop effective community leaders and address the challenges and opportunities facing Chautauqua County.

Class members, most of whom have been nominated by their employer to participate in the program, arrive at the retreat with little information about the weekend’s activities. Through a series of ice breakers and interviews, group members learn more about each other and begin a discussion of different leadership styles and how and when those styles can be most effective. Led by facilitator Larry Robinson with the assistance of several Chautauqua Leadership Network alumni, the retreat follows a rigorous schedule of self-assessment, conversation, group presentations and experiential activities.

“The CLN weekend retreat was a blast – part intellectual discussion, part brainteaser and part sitting by the fire at the end of the day drinking wine and laughing with new friends,” said Bill Evans, an attorney with Phillips Lytle who has recently returned to the area. “I learned a lot about leadership skills, teamwork and my own personal strengths and weaknesses while also having a lot of fun.”

Following its February retreat, the network’s Class of 2013 was welcomed to the organization with a reception on March 9. The group now begins a year-long series of half-day workshops covering such topics as business and economic development, boardsmanship and meeting management and ethics. The curriculum also includes group projects that allow class members to gain a broad knowledge of the assets of the Chautauqua County community.

The network’s Class of 2013 will graduate in the fall. Members can remain active in the organization by volunteering for various Chautauqua Leadership Network events and through service on committees or the board of directors. Alumni are invited to participate in class workshops during the year and often share news of employment opportunities and community fundraisers with the larger Chautauqua Leadership Network group of professionals. The organization also hosts a Community Leadership Award ceremony each year to honor an area leader or organization.

“The relationships our members have built with one another go beyond their own professional growth,” said Pene Hutton, network executive director. “They share ideas and opportunities with one another, but also share a real commitment to make Chautauqua County a better place to work and live.”

For more information about Chautauqua Leadership Network, visit the organization’s new website at www.chautauqualeadership.org. Sponsors include the Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, The Resource Center and Nestle Purina.