Thirty-five members of the inaugural Leadership Anne Arundel program recently completed their nine-month training in civic issues. The hope now is that these movers and shakers will develop into a network of talent, vision and decision-making that will leave a positive imprint on Anne Arundel County.
"This program is going to be training the next generation of leaders for our county," County Executive Robert R. Neall predicted when the training began last autumn. "It is real easy to get tunnel vision. A program like this can offer the big picture, and good decision-makers have to look at the big picture."
Anne Arundel County's explosive growth in recent years has increased demands for well-rounded civic leadership. A county that is rapidly urbanizing invariably develops plenty of complex problems that need to be dissected and addressed.
More than 300 similar programs exist around the country. A program sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee marked its 10th anniversary last year. More recent efforts in leadership development now span the state from Hagerstown to Prince George's County. The ingredient common to all these programs is their strong emphasis on community service and civic obligation.
The Anne Arundel version, which runs from September to May, consists of day-long seminars held monthly on health care, economic development, education, the arts and the media, government, criminal justice and human services. Graduates of the program are expected to translate what they learn into service in the community.
Members of the first graduating class represent a wide variety of backgrounds. Among them are bankers, chief operating officers of businesses, educators, accountants, lawyers and community activists.
"We're making more effective members of society," explained Arthur Ebersberger, president of Leadership Anne Arundel, which expects to announce the membership of its second class shortly.
When the first Anne Arundel training class was formed, more than 50 residents competed to enter the program, despite the $2,000 price tag for participation. That was a promising start for a program that we hope will be around for many years.
An enlightened, committed citzenry is essential to a prosperous future for Anne Arundel County or any other jurisdiction. Projects like leadership training classes help to make that future brighter.