Graduates of Leadership Pleasanton and the 30 new "students" who make up the Class of 2014 gathered for breakfast last Friday at the Hilton Hotel to celebrate the organization's 25th anniversary. Modeled after one successfully developed in Atlanta, this group was started in 1988 by Scott Raty, president and chief executive of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce. The chamber and now the city of Pleasanton are co-sponsors of Leadership Pleasanton, which boasts 587 alumni. The 600th graduate is in the current class.
It's purpose is to encourage volunteerism while also developing informed future community leaders. But it's become much more than that as civic, city, business, school and nonprofit organization leaders and professionals join the waiting list each year to take the class. The participants meet monthly from September through May, usually on the first Wednesday of each month. The daylong classes are presented through experiences that inform, educate and challenge; participants are expected to share their experiences and viewpoints.
These are not your typical college classes. Although there are some sit-down sessions, they are all interactive and most are quite mobile. Last week's class started off with a tour of downtown Pleasanton and the Firehouse Arts Center. Upcoming sessions feature School Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi, mock City Council meetings under the tutelage of City Manager Nelson Fialho, and visits to the fire station training facility and a police department firing range.
Among the tours best remembered are trips to the solid waste transfer station just off Interstate 680 and tours of Santa Rita Jail and the Federal Women's Correctional Facility. Last spring, Jerome Hoban, the new director of the Alameda County Fair, took the Leadership group onto the roof of the grandstands to see the view, including cell phone towers that few know are there.
Members of the Class of 2013 had these comments about the year they spent in Leadership:
"It's an ideal program to get a concise overview of the business infrastructure within the Pleasanton marketplace." - Harold Roundtree, UNCLE Credit Union.
"When the program was complete, I found myself wanting it to continue. One of the greatest benefits are the networking opportunities." - Greg Lewis, ClubSport Pleasanton.
"This is a great way to learn about the background of the everyday operations of our city and a wonderful opportunity to meet many talented leaders and professionals." - Donna Colteaux, a Pleasanton substitute teacher.
"To sum up the experience into one word: Inspiring!" - Jeffrey Blair, Visit Tri-Valley.
"I knew that Pleasanton was a wonderful place to live, but now I have key insights and new knowledge as to why we have such an amazing city." - Cathy Malone, University of Phoenix.
"I know this is only the tip of the iceberg, but is enough to get me more tied into the community and to find ways I can participate in it!." - Sheryl Morgan, Hewlett-Packard.
"Leadership was a great experience. It was wonderful getting to know folks from different professions and with varied life experience." - Nicole Steward, Pleasanton Unified School District.
"This class helped me be a better employee because having this additional knowledge helps me provide better customer service." - Michele Crose, City of Pleasanton.
"Leadership Pleasanton was a great experience for me not only as a resident for 30+ years, but also as a business leader in the community. The relationships and experiences will be a long lasting memory. Joyce and Kate are fantastic. Your leadership and knowledge was truly appreciated!" - Sara LeBrun, Marriott Pleasanton.