Connections – Creating community leaders

Posted on Feb 4, 2013 :: Connections
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Gerald Henley (center), director of theatrical productions at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, gives a tour of the venue to the Leadership Fox Cities group during their “Arts” day in December.

Leadership programs spark personal, charitable growth

In an effort to produce more community leaders, Chambers of Commerce throughout Northeast Wisconsin offer annual leadership programs that give people a chance to learn what makes their cities tick – and to work on projects that fill a need in their communities.

The Chambers are currently accepting applications for the fall sessions, and now is the prime time to apply. The policies and costs of the programs differ, but the structure of monthly meetings and projects are similar. For example, Leadership Green Bay, which offers an early-bird discount through March 31, limits enrollment to 50. Leadership Manitowoc’s class size maxes out at 25, and is generally reserved for Chamber members.

The classes meet on a monthly basis; each meeting consists of a different focus of their respective communities. The topics of these monthly discussions may involve human services, business and commerce, arts, government, health and wellness, education, law enforcement and the environment.

“Each day is like a traveling classroom,” says Joy Kapheim, director of the Leadership Fox Cities program. “The group may visit different sites as it pertains to the theme and they also get to hear from individuals who may be experts on a given topic.”

Eventually, each class is broken up into smaller groups. The groups are then charged with the task of solving one of the community’s problems. Projects commonly include fundraising, program development, organizing or remodeling.

“We have had so many great projects,” says Jeanne Agneessens, director of the Leadership Green Bay program. “Last year, we had one called ‘Title-Town Feet.’” Title-Town Feet is a group of people who collected donations and bought athletic shoes for youth who couldn’t play sports because they didn’t have the appropriate footwear.

Every project is unique and benefits the area differently. Other recent Green Bay projects included the remodeling of a pediatric medical clinic to make it more “kid friendly,” and Science Saturdays, a weekly wellness program for school-aged children.

“This program really strengthens the infrastructure in our community and they do that because when they’re done with the program, these individuals are the ones that go out and get on boards and committees throughout the community for different non-profit organizations,” says Agneessens.

“Before becoming the director of this program, I would hear people in the community say, ‘LFC was the best thing I’ve ever done,’” says Kapheim. “That prompted me to seek it out and go through the class myself. Now I’m one of those folks who says, ‘LFC was the best thing I’ve ever done.’”


The following is a list of Chambers offering leadership programs, tuition, application deadlines, and websites to visit for more information.

Green Bay  »  $1,825 ($50 discount before March 31)  »  May 31  »


» Fox Cities  »  $2,000 non-members; $1,500 Chamber members  »  June 28  »


» Fond du Lac  »   $1,350  »   June 5  »

» Sheboygan  »  Not determined  »  June 28  »


» Oshkosh  »  $1,400  »  June  »


» Manitowoc  »  $425  »  Aug. 10  »



Tuesday, March 5

The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its Business Expo 2013 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the KI Convention Center. Admission is free with a ticket from any of the exhibitors. Call Marilyn Heim at (920) 593-3419.


Thursday, March 7

Converting Influence will hold its sixth annual Converters Expo at Lambeau Atrium on from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $40. The event includes Skybox Seminars on flexographic printing and industry outlook. Factory tours of companies in Green Bay, Appleton, Neenah and Wittenberg will be held on March 6 by appointment. For more information, go to