Business & Economy Society & Culture

Fanning conference to highlight rural leadership

2018 Community Leadership Conference presented by J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

Creating a pipeline of local leaders is difficult when young adults choose to leave home for opportunities elsewhere.

This has been a challenge in Oglethorpe County for many years. With help from the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, county leaders began to tackle the problem last year.

“We recognized the need to build a core of leaders,” said Cary Fordyce, past president of the Oglethorpe County Chamber of Commerce. “In a rural county like ours, all kids see is a road out of the county and as they leave, it eventually creates an adult leadership void.”

Fifteen adults completed the inaugural Leadership Oglethorpe class in 2018, covering topics like group decision making, collaboration and conflict management, and multigenerational leadership.

“Having worked with young people, I took a lot away from the session on multigenerational leadership,” said Seavy O’Neal, Crawford mayor and the owner of Building Wrights & Renovators LLC. “Before, I learned some of those generational differences the hard way, and learning how other generations communicate and collaborate is something I have carried on into my business.”

Building leadership in rural communities like Oglethorpe County is a focal point of UGA’s fourth annual Community Leadership Conference, which will take place Feb. 28 – March 1 at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

Organized by the Fanning Institute, this year’s conference theme is “Engaging Leaders, Engaging Communities.”

Rural community leadership is one of four tracks of workshops that will be offered at the conference. The others will focus on community leadership development innovations and research; best practices in community leadership programming; and leadership in nonprofit organizations.

“Cultivating and empowering engaged leaders plays a vital role in a community’s sustainability and development, and that is especially true in rural Georgia,” said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute. “Through the speakers and workshops at the Community Leadership Conference, attendees will have an opportunity to network with each other and discuss ideas they can take back home and use to strengthen their communities and organizations.”

The Fanning Institute will also host two pre-conference sessions on Feb. 27 and 28. One session will certify attendees to facilitate the institute’s Youth Leadership in Action curriculum, while the other will focus on initiating and sustaining strong adult community leadership programs.

“The pre-conference sessions offer a unique professional development opportunity that attendees can take back and use in their communities to bolster either their youth or adult leadership program,” Bishop said. “We urge people to take advantage and attend one of the sessions.”

Also during the conference, the Fanning Institute will award the third annual Innovations in Community Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals or programs who have moved beyond traditional community leadership programming.

For more information on the 2019 Community Leadership Conference, click here: