Thirty years ago, a group of Lawrence residents picked up on a trend — the same few people were constantly stepping up to serve as leaders of community organizations and boards.
“The same people were getting reappointed to the boards and commissions around town because there wasn’t a pipeline of new people to do it,” said Nelson Krueger, a Lawrence resident. “We realized the only way to change that was to get young people involved in the process earlier.”
The result was the formation of Leadership Lawrence. The program began holding its first classes in 1982, and the group will celebrate its 30th anniversary at a banquet at 6 p.m. on Friday at Maceli’s 1031 N.H.
With the graduation of this year’s class, which also will take place on Friday, the organization will have 700 alumni members, said Sue Hack, executive director of the program.
“These days, I don’t know if you can point to a volunteer board in this community that doesn’t have at least one Leadership Lawrence graduate,” Hack said. “That is what we really try to teach. We want people to find their passion, find out what really motivates them, and then go act on it.”
Friday’s event, entitled Legends of Leadership Lawrence, will recognize the founders of the program, which included Krueger and about 20 other members of the community.
Several residents who helped found Leadership Lawrence are expected to be in attendance at Friday’s event, including Hank Booth, Ed Carter, Jean Milstead and Shirley Martin Smith.
This year’s class includes 35 members, who met once a month during the school year to learn about subjects such as Lawrence government, social services, art, media, economic development and civic responsibility.
The leadership program, which is run through the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, will begin accepting applications in June and will begin meeting in September.
— City reporter Chad Lawhorn can be reached at 832-6362. Follow him at Twitter.com/clawhorn_ljw