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Upshur County Development Authority director Jennifer Bostian addresses the commission at its April 7 meeting about endorsing the Leadership Upshur program. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

So, you want to be a community leader? Hone the skills and habits you need via the Leadership Upshur program

BUCKHANNON – A new nine-month program hopes to help community members develop a variety of skills necessary to be effective, influential leaders in their communities.

Leadership Upshur hopes to foster leadership skills in local community members who live or work in or around Upshur County through a leadership education program. The program will teach community members how to cultivate crucial leadership skills and habits, including emotional intelligence and civic engagement, according to Jennifer Bostian, one of the program’s organizers.

Bostian, who serves as the executive director of the Upshur County Development Authority, attended the April 7 Upshur County Commission meeting on behalf of the Leadership Upshur’s Planning Committee to ask for the commission’s endorsement and support of the program.

“This is a group of organizations here in Upshur County that are trying to get a leadership development program going; we have a constant need for new blood in our leadership groups — everything from elected groups to elected officials to board members, and the list goes on and on,” Bostian explained. “This program is designed to help aspiring leaders gain the leadership skills they need to be able to rise into those kinds of positions and to become associated or connected and to understand how a community’s organizations work together.”

So far, the committee has partnered with the UCDA, Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Community Care of West Virginia, Create Buckhannon, and city and county representatives, who have been participating in meetings.

“I’m here to ask for your formal endorsement as a county to be able to use the county’s logo and marketing materials to bring credibility to the program because ultimately, we’re going to take this out to the business community and the rest of the organizations in the county that aren’t involved now, and I think it’s very important that we have that formal endorsement of the organization,” Bostian said.

She said the idea for the program came from Mike Ruffing, owner and president of Problem Solver’s Consultants.

“He’s pretty much providing all of the marketing and the website — anything like that at cost — and he’ll be involved in developing the program because he has a real heart for this, and I think that’s what it takes,” Bostian said.

The committee is hoping to add someone from the school district and has been in talks with Upshur Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus.

“This is a nine-month program, and the goal is again, to develop the leadership skills through a real hardcore look at several leadership books,” Bostian said. “We’ll go through those nine months, where we’ll have people come into the county’s organizations to talk about how they use their leadership skills, but also what their organization is involved in.”

Bostian received the county’s endorsement and permission to use their logo, as well as a greenlight from the City of Buckhannon when she attended their meeting later that evening to ask for city council’s support. Additionally, councilman CJ Rylands, president of Create Buckhannon, made a motion to approve allowing Leadership Upshur to utilize the city’s logo and to contribute $1,000 toward the program.

To learn more about Leadership Upshur or enrolling, visit its website here or email info@leadershipupshur.com. You may also apply for the program online here, or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit this site.

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