BUCYRUS -- CU Lead hit a milestone Thursday night when its alumni blossomed to well over 100 with the newest round of graduates.
Sixteen individuals from a variety of businesses and organizations took part in six-hour sessions over the past nine months to hone their leadership skills and give back to the community. According to Steve Mohr, CU Lead facilitator, the program has a three-prong approach: personal growth, leadership, and a community project.
“The thing I’m most proud of with this group is what they did in terms of their community project,” said Mohr, who entered his second year of helming the CU Lead program after retiring as superintendent of Wynford Local Schools.
The latest CU Lead class hosted Junior Day, which introduces the county’s high school juniors to the opportunities and career options available in Crawford County. “I think (the CU Lead class) did a community project that really had meaning in Crawford County,” Mohr said. “I think they really took the program to another level with what they did with the community project.”
Mohr noted the diversity of experience the individuals brought to the table. “Pretty much every economic sector in Crawford County was represented,” Mohr said. “It was a good mix, it was an enjoyable mix of people to work with. I think that hopefully they learned from one another.”
As a former educator, Mohr understood the need for leaders in all sectors.
“Leadership is probably the most underdeveloped part of organizations,” Mohr said. “We put people in leadership positions and we really don’t develop their philosophy, their background, their knowledge of leadership. I just think it’s important to understand that leadership is a process. It’s not developed in a day.”
Amanda Sheets, Rick Rawson, and Shannon Sprang sat together during Thursday night’s dinner. All three hold some type of leadership position in their respective schools.
Sheets, who is relatively new to the area, appreciated the ability to network and connect with area agencies over the past nine months. She currently serves as Operations Manager at North Central State College’s Crawford Success Center.
“It was an opportunity to me to see where everybody was coming at with their own leadership skill set and then how their businesses work and then how education can support businesses,” Sheets said.
Crawford County may be new to Sheets, but Rawson, the Athletic Director at Bucyrus High School, has spent over 30 years in the area. Nevertheless, he welcomed the opportunity to make connections and tour the factories that play an important part in Crawford County’s economy.
“With our kids, so many of them don’t really have visions beyond the county,” Rawson said. “Quite a few of our kids, especially at Bucyrus, don’t get out of the county much. It’s really important for them to understand there is a lot of opportunity in the county.”
Rawson said they toured a machining factory and Hord’s. Those experiences allowed the class to demonstrate the opportunities available in various sectors at this year’s Junior Day.
“From our perspective as educators, it was nice to see all of that in action,” Rawson said. “To be able to go see the CU Lead graduates in a couple of places and how they’re implementing their strategies to make their businesses better.”
Sprang landed a new position as the Student Services and Academic Supervisor at Pioneer Career and Technology Center. For her, CU Lead offered a chance to learn how to operate within the different levels of leadership.
“They talked about leading down, leading sideways, leading up, how to develop leaders, how to lead people,” Sprang said. “I think that’s really important when you’re in a position that you have to lead others or they’re looking to you for guidance.”
The CU Lead graduates will take the lessons learned over the past nine months and implement them within their businesses and organizations. For Gary Frankhouse, Executive and Economic Director of the Crawford Partnership, each new graduate is merely helping to grow the seed that was planted nearly 20 years ago when Crawford: 20/20 Vision was established.
“As we look to change a culture and a direction the county had gone for 25, 30 years, it’s really (about) establishing new styles of leadership and that enthusiasm and that commitment that we will succeed. I think that’s what leadership is,” said Frankhouse.
He believed that each new class of CU Lead continues to engage in the Partnership’s efforts to move the county forward. “Our efforts are the things that are going to make that change, whether it’s quality of life, it’s business, workforce, and education initiatives. By being introduced to those efforts and how to participate or sit on a board, those people are filtering out into the community and joining those efforts.”
The CU Lead Class of 2018 included: Kelly Ard (Ohio Mutual Insurance Group), Nate Brown (Ohio Mutual Insurance Group), Brian Campbell (Spherion), Charity Coffman (OhioHealth), Trish Factor (Galion City Health Department), Chelsea Green (ACS Title and Closing Services), Casey Long (Hord Family Farms), Kristen Ohl (Hord Family Farms), Todd Porter (Elliott Machine), Rick Rawson (Bucyrus City School District), Sara Rowlinson (Ohio Mutual Insurance Group), Amanda Sheets (Crawford Success Center), Shannon Sprang (Pioneer Career and Technology Center), Jillian Tuttle (United Way), Amy Vaughn (Community Foundation for Crawford County), and Yahbysuel Yzrael (Bucyrus Precision Tech).