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30 Years Developing Leaders

By Jim Mikula, President/CEO

Last Friday May 10th was the graduation of the Leadership Gillespie County Class of 2024, the

30th class. The inaugural class started their journey in 1994 with 17 participants. Today there are nearly 600 graduates, and many have made significant contributions to our community. The inaugural class include a future mayor of Fredericksburg, Linda Langerhans, and a current city council member, Tony Klein. My predecessor, Penny McBride, was also a member of that first class. Graduates over the years have become mayors, city council members, school board members, leaders on non-profit boards, business leaders, a city manager and a police chief.


The program was created by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce to build a resource of local citizens to assume leadership roles in our community. It has been our belief that enhancing our talent pool of current and future leaders will benefit our community economically and our quality of life. With all that program graduates have accomplished over the years, it certainly seems that our thinking has proven itself true.


It is the mission of Leadership Gillespie County, through an interactive and hands on experience, to:

· Increase community awareness of local issues

· Provide Gillespie County with a resource of future leaders

· Introduce participants to public and private sector community leaders

· Create an environment that encourages community networking

· Increase the knowledge of the participants regarding the community’s businesses and civic, charitable and governmental organizations

· Enhance the leadership skills of individuals who are committed to be future leaders and sustainers of the high quality of life in Gillespie County

· Create the opportunity participants to put leadership discipline into action through the successful execution of a class project for the betterment of the community


One of the anchors of the program is the class project. The class of 2024 project supported the renovated Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on East Main Street. The class built a website for the historical church, and helped the families who have worked for years to renovate the historical church to generate awareness of this historical site. The church was established in 1887 and its congregation included a family that moved to Fredericksburg in 1862. A descendent of that family lives here today.  The church is open to the public most days and is also a wedding venue. The class held a reception at the church last month, and their respect for the importance of our town’s history was palpable.


An important part of Leadership Gillespie County’s success are the program directors who are  volunteers from the Chamber each year. The class itself elects its own officers, and the program directors work with the class officers and members assigned to plan and execute each month’s session. They provide support and guidance that is a key component to the successful experience of the class. They work quietly behind the scenes, and through their actions, are effective models of leadership. These volunteer directors handle their responsibilities to their class while holding leadership positions themselves in their own organizations. The service they perform for the program is a significant contribution to the development of our community leaders today and tomorrow – a profound example of their own community leadership.


Next month, we will begin accepting applications for the 31st Leadership Gillespie County Class. The Chamber board has decided to expand the class to members of the Harper and Stonewall Chambers of Commerce. We will increase the class size from 20 to 22 to accommodate our fellow chambers in Gillespie County.


It is an honor to lead an organization that creates a legacy of leadership for our community.


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