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Where we live: Learning about leadership

Many moons ago while working for a business journal, I learned about a program called Leadership Lehigh Valley. I was thrilled recently when I received an invitation to cover the graduation of the Leadership Carbon Class of 2022.

The goal of Leadership Carbon is to educate adult professionals about their community while they develop leadership skills. The hope is that they will use these skills to benefit the community.

One of the concepts discussed is servant leadership. The first time I ever heard of servant leadership was while covering this program eons ago.

I had always thought of leaders as people who make decisions and tell everyone else what to do. Well, that might sound a little rough. But basically, they are people who focus on improving a business by improving its profitability. Looking at the needs of the workers is not at the top of the list.

The concept of servant leadership was refreshing to me. It makes sense to me. I can really see how being a leader who is not only interested in the needs of the workers, but also willing to get in the dirt and help get the work done can be very endearing. To me, that type of leadership is admirable and something that motivates people to follow that person. After all, if this person is willing to consider my needs, then he’s earned my loyalty.

At their graduation, Maureen Donovan, the assistant director of Workforce and Community Service at LCCC, listed all of the areas of Carbon County that the class explored.

They learned about the nonprofit organizations in the county, businesses, tourism, environment, government and manufacturing. They visited a manufacturer that is also a nonprofit. About half of its employees are people with disabilities.

Donovan believes that in order to help the community, they need to understand it.

“We have so much here to be proud of,” she said.

The students also learned about time management, being flexible and working in teams. And they explored the philosophical side of leadership, questioning if leaders are born that way or nurtured to become leaders, and what kind of person are they.

As they explored what it means to be a leader, they learned about those leaders who are already in the community: police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. That’s when they knew what to choose as their class project - first responders.

On June 16, the Leadership Carbon class is holding a public event called First Responders Expo of Carbon County: Get to Know Us.

The expo will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Mahoning Movie Drive-In, and admission is free.

There will be firetrucks and helicopters for children (and children at heart) to explore, as well as food trucks, family activities, demonstrations and opportunities to learn more about first responder careers and volunteerism.

Overall, it’s really a great time to thank our local heroes for their work to protect the community and to inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps.