Leadership Carbon, a leadership-training program in which dozens of individuals have participated since its inception in 2005, is returning with a new look after a one-year absence.

Dawn Ferrante, a Leadership Carbon graduate herself who is steering committee chairwoman, said one of the big changes is that each month the program will begin and end at the same location. In previous years, the program met at different locations each month.

Sandy Duda of the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors Leadership Carbon, is the program coordinator.

"We now have a renewed and refreshed Leadership Carbon and what I think is a very good curriculum," said Elissa Garofalo Thorne, a steering committee member and vice president of Partners for Progress, which set the groundwork for Leadership Carbon.

"I feel we are taking it to the next level," she added.

Ferrante said the committee is looking at a minimum of 10 participants. The deadline for making application through the Chamber of Commerce is June 30.

"A major enhancement to the Leadership Carbon program, which meets one day a month from September through May, is professional facilitation," Thorne said. "While each class will have a local leader open the monthly sessions, an accredited individual will facilitate the dynamic skill set portion of the day."

Ferrante is excited about the reinvigorated program.

"We have reached out to graduates to find out what really worked and where we can maximize each student's valuable time," she said. "This will be a great opportunity for participants to develop their talents for the betterment of our community."

Ferrante pointed out that the improvements to Leadership Carbon came after the steering committee conducted a series of intensive one-on-one interviews with alumni of past classes. In addition, it researched other programs throughout the state to come up with this year's series of classes.

Each month, participants will gain knowledge through a "Community Profile" while experiencing the best of what Carbon County has to offer. Topics such as environment, business and government will be coupled with "leadership skills" such as behavioral styles, communication skills and managing change.

At the end of the program, certificates in leadership training will be awarded.

An additional benefit of the program that local employers are sure to value is that all graduates will be certified in leadership training through Lehigh Carbon Community College's Leadership and Workforce Development Center.

The purpose of Leadership Carbon is to coach up-and-coming leaders on skills relevant to community action and involvement.

In the past the Leadership Carbon program kick-off with an overnight trip to the Poconos. That overnight trip was eliminated, but the first day of the program will involve an outside trainer who has been working at every Leadership Carbon program.

"The intention is to put people into the community who want to develop leadership skills," Ferrante said.

When graduation occurs in May, alumni will also be invited to attend and hold a reunion of sorts.

"The alumni want to do more and we will consider a program for them down the line," Thorne noted.

She said that since 2005, graduates of the program can be found all around us putting their talents and time into serving their communities in many ways.

"Some of them are in elected or appointed offices, others are in key positions of community service, and others are the leaders of our educational systems," she said.

Sixty-five individuals have graduated from the program since its inception, many of whom have gone on to become volunteers, organizers and municipal representatives.

According to Micah Gursky of St. Luke's Miner's Memorial Hospital, " … the Leadership Carbon program made me a more valuable employee and a better team member."

Applications are available online at www.leadershipcarbon.com or by calling Sandy Duda at (610) 377-4063 or email leadershipcarbon@carboncountychamber.org.