I am honored to be chair of the Leadership Howard County Board of Directors as we celebrate our 30th anniversary. This has been a remarkable year to commemorate this milestone in our development: As Howard County continues to grow and expand its vision for the future, Leadership Howard County has seen parallel growth.

Thirty people graduated in the first class in 1985; 30 years later our program continues to attract a diverse pool of applicants from all corners of Howard County. There are more than 1,150 graduates from the Premier program, 158 graduates from Leadership Essentials and 760 graduates from Leadership U. Our collective impact throughout the community continues to be felt on the boards of nonprofits and in our communities, schools and community and volunteer organizations.

This year we also celebrate the 20th anniversary of Leadership U. For me, this milestone has personal significance as I was the parent of a Leadership U student this year and was able to experience our program from an entirely different perspective.

I saw firsthand the leadership journey that begins with the summer session, during which the students discover their leadership traits and become informed about community issues. Choosing and creating a service project is an exercise in teambuilding, project planning and developing presentation skills. The new initiative “3D-HC” is a fantastic opportunity for students to spend a day in the fall learning more about nonprofits in the community, and how they can become involved.

At the LU graduation, it was not only a “proud mom” moment, but a time when I was also a very proud board chair, having experienced the true impact the program has on our youth, and in turn, our community.

Throughout this year we have taken a look back at the past but also laid a foundation for an exciting future. We held two alumni reunions in the fall, which drew 200 alumni from all 30 classes. Members and classmates enjoyed reconnecting, sharing memories of their adventures in class and finding out more about what is in store for the future.

Our 30th Anniversary Campaign was undertaken to sustain the legacy of Leadership Howard County into the future. Our goal of bringing our endowment fund to $1 million will allow us to continue offering financial assistance to nonprofits and small businesses and keep our tuition rates affordable for all. With the extraordinary generosity of our graduates and members of the Howard County community, we are at 95% of our goal.

Thank you to everyone who has made a pledge to support this campaign. I also extend my sincere appreciation to John Isaac, chair of the 30th Anniversary Steering Committee; Dick Story, chair of the 30th Anniversary Campaign, and the members of the campaign committee.

I hope you will plan to join us as we celebrate our anniversary through the remainder of this year: at our annual Big Event on April 14 with Captain Richard Phillips as our keynote speaker; at our Graduation and Annual Awards Dinner on June 14; and at our 30th Anniversary Celebration, “An Evening on the Lawn,” at Belmont Manor on July 21.

On behalf of Leadership Howard County, I would like to thank all of the past board members, volunteers and staff who provided the vision and foundation to bring our organization to the place it stands today. I look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead as future leaders challenge themselves on their leadership journey and take their place in our community.

Kyri Jacobs
President, Bonnie Heneson Communications
Leadership Premier 2009