Leadership Carbon will soon have a new leader.

Elissa Garofalo, who chaired the program for the last five years, has announced she is stepping down. She will officially pass the chairperson role onto Leadership Carbon Class of 2010 graduate Patty DeSousa when the class begins in September.

"The program has evolved and it's time to pass it on to a new leader," Garofalo said. "The goal was to eventually pass it on to a graduate. Patty is active on all levels since her graduation from the program and that was an indication she wanted to have a sustaining role in Leadership Carbon."

Garofalo added that another reason for her decision to step down was because her responsibilities at her job have changed. She is now the president of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, which requires her to be in the office more and away from Leadership Carbon duties.

She commended Carleen Ladden, a recent graduate of the program and vice-chairperson, for running the show when she was not available.

DeSousa said that this is a good opportunity for growth and commended Garofalo for her guidance.

"Elissa's shoes are huge to fill but I will try to do my best," she said, adding that she has some ideas to bring to the table for the future of the program.

Dawn Ferrante, executive director of the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, said she is excited that DeSousa will have this opportunity.

"Elissa has been an awesome leader and shepherded us through important changes and brought leadership to our committees and classes," Ferrante said. "Now we're looking to shake things up a bit and Patty will and I'm excited about it. We want to ensure Leadership Carbon continues and grows and evolves."

Leadership Carbon was the brainchild of Partners for Progress.

The program began in 2005 under the guidance of former state Rep. Keith McCall. It aimed at helping people learn and become more effective leaders in their workplace and in the community through classes and projects that worked toward the betterment of the community.

Applications for the upcoming Leadership Carbon class are currently being accepted. Deadline for applications are Aug. 15.

Participants in the program meet once a month at the CCEDC building in Lehighton from September to May. Mornings include listening to speakers on various topics; while the afternoons are dedicated to honing in on certain skill sets like effectively running a meeting and public speaking.

A very memorable accomplishment by the program Garofalo pointed out included fundraising efforts for the Blue Mountain Health System Dental Van, which helps children by providing dental services at the schools.

For more information on Leadership Carbon or to apply for the Class of 2014, go to http://leadershipcarbon.com or email Linda Rex at lrex@carboncountychamber.org.

A Class of 2013-2014 welcome reception will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 4, beginning at 8 a.m., at the Mahoning Valley Country Club, Lehighton. For more information, contact Rex at the above email address or call (610) 379-5000.