For those dreaming of getting more actively involved and developing a stronger network in our community, a rewarding leadership opportunity has come to fruition. The City of Heber and the Chamber of Commerce have joined together to create Heber’s first Leadership Academy.
What exactly is it? The Heber Leadership Academy is a group of 20 individuals from the community who have the opportunity to gather together and learn leadership skills from several impactful leaders. The team will discuss community-related hot topics and will come to better understand the needs and dynamics of the city. But don’t worry, it is not all talk. They get to practice what they are learning by completing a project to enhance the city. Dakota Mahan, Heber City Manager Assistant, shares that the goal of the program is two-fold: “It allows for people to, number one, expand their leadership skills and qualities because they will be meeting with leaders in different fields. And two, they will gain a better understanding of issues that surround the valley.”
In August, applicants were selected based on work experience, community involvement, and leadership goals. The leadership team will meet one Thursday of each month to learn from various leaders, problem solve, and create a positive impact. The Heber Leadership Academy held their first meeting in August and will finish up in May with a graduation ceremony. Over the next nine months, the group will hear from leaders in law enforcement, government, public health, and education, to name a few. Mayor Kelleen Potter has many hopes for the participants. She says, “I hope people who attend this program will find a deeper understanding of both the city government and just how things work in our community. I hope they will be inspired and motivated to want to participate and also to be ambassadors.” Mayor Potter also desires for this group to help dispel misinformation and create solutions.
One of the highlights for the group will be their opportunity to complete a project in the community. Mahan says, “One of the main parts of the program is to allow the participants to have a class project where they identify a need in the community and work to solve or alleviate that issue.” Similar programs have been working to accomplish great things in other places. Heber has drawn from other city’s leadership academies to develop a program they feel will best meet the needs of our citizens and our city. According to Mahan, in another city with a similar program, the group saw a need for a dog park. The individuals worked together to get the resources needed to make the dog park a reality. Mayor Potter says she doesn’t have any preconceived ideas of what this project will be for Heber. She really wants it to be an idea generated by the group so that they have real ownership and the opportunity to lead out in the task they choose to complete.
Mayor Potter is excited to see this program help people better understand local government. She also feels that this academy has the ability to help unite us as a community and to create a better dialogue: “ . . . I feel like it elevates the conversation in our community from one of divisiveness and attacking to taking the realities that we’re facing and figuring out what are the best solutions for this community.”
If this sounds like an opportunity you would like to be a part of, and you missed enrollment, don’t worry. Enrollment will open up again next summer. This will be an ongoing program that will continue to benefit our community and build leaders. For those wanting to get more involved in the community, opportunities abound. While the Heber Leadership Academy is a nine-month commitment, there are other chances to make a positive impact without as much time to dedicate. Mahan suggests getting involved in one of the many organizations that benefit the city. The Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce is a great place to get started if you want to network, strengthen your business, and gain training. Community Alliance for Main Street (CAMS) works to improve Main Street. The Wasatch Community Foundation is the largest non-profit organization in Heber striving to build healthy families and relies completely on volunteers. Citizens can also work to stay informed by tuning in to city council and town hall meetings. Our involvement counts. Mayor Potter says, “I believe that the more people who understand what’s going on in local government, the better candidates, the better elected officials, the better solutions we will have to problems.”