Leadership Howard County (LHC) is in the midst of a 30th Anniversary Capital Campaign that will bring its scholarship fund to $1 million, allowing the program to support even more future participation.

“We are very positive about the response we have received so far,” said Stacie Hunt, president and CEO of LHC.

The nonprofit’s mission is to empower leaders to transform the community. By 2020, LHC has the goal of being the critical force in preparing, inspiring, connecting and sustaining community leaders to make Howard County the best place to live, work and play.

LHC hopes to add to its current scholarship fund by raising $600,000. “We’d obviously love to surpass that,” said Hunt, “because that would mean we’d have even more capacity to support scholarships and manage our program costs. We are truly just thrilled with the positive feedback we have so far for the campaign.”

As LHC begins its 30th year, its leaders and alumni look back on the growth of a community leadership program that has more than 1,150 graduates. LHC estimates its alumni have volunteered more than 75,000 hours in support of Howard County nonprofits — equal to an investment of more than $1.8 million in the community.

Each year, LHC offers a limited number of needs-based financial assistance to applicants for Leadership Premier — LHC’s flagship program — primarily to nonprofits and small business owners.

Leadership U, which is targeted to high school juniors, also receives requests from families in need of tuition subsidies.

LHC also offers “Leadership Essentials,” a six-month leadership development program, in collaboration with Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business. That program is targeted to rising stars and future leaders under the age of 40 who live/work in the region.

Making Contributions

Dick Story, senior vice president for Howard Bank, is in charge of raising contributions from businesses for the LHC campaign. “This endowment has been growing over time,” he said. “Businesses have been responding well, and there is still an opportunity for them to respond. People in Howard County are overwhelmingly generous.”

The scholarship fund is an investment in the future leadership of Howard County, he pointed out. Story, who graduated from LHC in 1995, was able to congratulate his daughter as she graduated in 2015; his granddaughter attended Leadership U.

Story and other LHC alumni created the campaign not only to ensure the availability of financial assistance, but also to enable its programs to remain accessible to the full diversity of the community with affordable tuition. LHC leaders and alumni also hope to sustain the value of the program for a growing base of membership who will continue to make a positive impact on Howard County.

Each LHC class is selected to represent a cross-section of the community, bringing an array of perspectives, talents and resources. LHC aims to increase each participant’s awareness of the issues and challenges facing Howard County and expand his or her network of contacts throughout the business, nonprofit and governmental communities, allowing the individual to take his or her place and help build a better community.

Friendly Competition

LHC classes have engaged in a “friendly competition” to see which year can raise the most money. The classes of 2014 and 2015 gave $70,000 between them, with 2015 raising $40,000 and 2014 raising $30,000. All 30 classes are working toward class gifts to support the campaign.

“LHC is an amazing way to plug into the community,” said John Isaac, a financial adviser with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, as well as a member of the board of directors for LHC. “We are really asking our alumni internally to give back to the program that did so much for them.”

If one considers the major nonprofits throughout the region, LHC graduates are on the boards leading these institutions, said Isaac. “I think LHC turned me from a resident into a citizen. Even now, through the privilege of still being involved in LHC, I have the opportunity to meet some really cool movers and shakers in the county.”

A Growing Family

Kyrie Jacobs, president of Bonnie Heneson Communications and chair of the LHC Executive Committee, agreed with her colleagues that the campaign is going well.

“We’ve had a great response from our Leadership family,” she said. “The most recent classes have provided their support at a level I applaud.”

The community-at-large has also been very supportive of LHC’s programs, she said. “Corporate people, even if they haven’t necessarily gone through the programs, do see the value. Their employees go through the programs, and they come out as stronger leaders.”

Jacobs, like Story, is part of a multi-generation of LHC participation: Her daughter is currently in Leadership U.

“You grow as a person and as a leader,” said Jacobs, a 2009 graduate. “You gain a huge network of mentors, colleagues and friends.”