Leadership Georgetown offers participants an in-depth snapshot of the community—and much more
If you’ve attended an event hosted by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, you’ve probably heard of Leadership Georgetown, a ten-month program sponsored by the Chamber that gives adults a behind-the-scenes look at how Georgetown operates. Classes meet once a month and are held all over Georgetown, giving participants the opportunity to hear from key experts and to visit important institutions such as Southwestern University, St. David’s Georgetown Hospital, and Texas Disposal Systems.
Before the program concludes, participants are challenged to make a verbal commitment in front of their peers that they will strive to make a positive difference in Georgetown by finding a place to serve.
View caught up with four Leadership Georgetown graduates to learn how going through the program changed the course of their lives.
Connie Clark—Relocating to Georgetown
One little-known fact about Leadership Georgetown is that participants don’t have to be Georgetown residents; those who work in Georgetown are welcome to apply as well.
When Connie Clark, a partner with Faske Lay & Co., LLP, went through the program in 2013–2014, she was a longtime resident of the Round Rock area. During the course of the program, however, something unexpected happened: she fell in love with Georgetown. “At that time, we weren’t actively looking to buy or to move, but Wendy Cash—a realtor in Georgetown—was one of Leadership Georgetown’s facilitators that year. She showed us a parcel of land that became our home.”
Now, Connie is an active member of the Georgetown Rotary Club in Sun City, and she’s serving her seventh year on the executive board of the Austin chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs. She’s also a board member of the Chisholm Trail Communities Foundation, a nonprofit that connects nonprofit donors and community members with nonprofit organizations.
“I think I became a better leader by going through the program,” she says. “The class is so diverse, it broadens your perspective.”
Scott Stribling—Running for public office
When Scott Stribling moved to Williamson County in 2006, he and Troy Hellmann, his business partner, started a real estate company called Century 21 Hellman Stribling. “We didn’t know a lot of folks,” Scott recalls, “so we both applied to Leadership Georgetown in 2008 as a way to get to know key leaders in town.”
For Scott and Troy, the friendships, networking, and broader understanding of Georgetown they gained proved invaluable. “Leadership Georgetown makes a pretty strong challenge for class members to get involved and find a place to serve. So we did that, both of us,” says Scott. Troy ran for city council and won. And then Scott ran for the school board and was elected.
Now, Scott serves as Georgetown ISD’s school board president and is helping Georgetown pave the way toward a more student-centered model of public education. “Learning is different than it was in my day, where you’d have a teacher stand up, open a book, and give a lecture, while students sat there and took notes,” Scott says. “These days we try to meet students at their preferred learning style. Kids learn in so many different ways—the research on that is staggering.”
Part of the recently passed $160 million bond will go to build Georgetown’s fourth middle school. The school will feature a progressive design, with glass walls and classrooms that can easily be adjusted in size so that students and teachers can better collaborate.
“I’ve spoken with the architects,” Scott says. “They do projects all over the state, and they said this is one of their crowning achievements. It’s possibly the most progressive school that they’ve seen!”
Tiffany Enos—Viewing Georgetown in a new light
For Tiffany Enos, a lifelong Georgetown resident, participating in Leadership Georgetown was a chance to learn more about the city in which she was born and raised.
“Growing up, I was a member of choir and the high school golf team. My grandfather was a physical plant manager at Southwestern, and my family had a home center here in Georgetown,” says Tiffany. “We’d seen the community grow, and I thought I knew a lot about Georgetown. I did, from a social aspect, but after going through Leadership Georgetown, I walked away with a more in-depth view of what Georgetown is all about. It was a real eye-opener for me.”
After going through Leadership Georgetown in 2014–2015, Tiffany became increasingly motivated to volunteer within the community. Today, she serves on the Chamber Board and on the Commission of Aging, and she’s involved in several civic organizations, including the Sun City Rotary.
“I’d lived here, but I really hadn’t held any community leadership positions before Leadership Georgetown,” she says. “Leadership Georgetown was really what helped spark my interest to make a difference in this community and as director of community relations for The Delaney at Georgetown Village.”
Stephanie Blanck—Starting a new leadership program
While some city leadership programs offer participants the same material each year, taught by the same facilitator, Leadership Georgetown has found a simple way to keep its material fresh: the program asks two participants from previous years to facilitate the program, and it asks small groups of volunteers—also participants from previous years—to coordinate the specific educational days. For example, two or three people might recruit the speakers for the coming year’s Economic Development Day or Public Safety Day.
For volunteer extraordinaire Stephanie Blanck, a woman who has offered her helping hand to more than a dozen nonprofits since she moved to Georgetown in 1980, serving as program facilitator was a “no-brainer.” Immediately after graduating from Leadership Georgetown, she volunteered for the position.
As it happened, the program facilitator position had been filled, so Stephanie and her friend Gwen Davis decided to go in a new direction. With the Chamber’s blessing, they started Junior Leadership Georgetown, a program that helps high school juniors and seniors learn about community issues like government, healthcare, and strategic issues.
“When we first started the program, there was only one high school, and Junior Leadership Georgetown was only open to juniors,” says Stephanie. “Then, our third year, we opened it up to seniors as well, and it did increase our numbers to more than twenty and, eventually, to forty.”
Today, Junior Leadership Georgetown caps its class sizes at thirty, and the program—now co-facilitated by Stephanie and Jan Williams—is going stronger than ever, continuing to teach kids about volunteering, public speaking, community engagement, and self-initiative.
“I love working with the kids,” says Stephanie. “This is what’s so inspiring: you never know what difference you make until someone tells you years later.”
For more information on Leadership Georgetown, including the curriculum schedule and program costs, visit georgetownchamber.org/leadership-georgetown.