MURRAY – The Murray State University Bauernfeind College of Business this week hosted a portion of a Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) pilot program to train administrators and elected city officials from across the state on how to better serve their constituencies.
Cassie Cooper, member education manager for KLC, said the inaugural Local Leaders Academy started in February, and its 15 participants are meeting for a total of seven “segments” over the course of about seven months, with each segment focusing on a different aspect of leadership. Four of the segments are in person and three are virtual, with the last one scheduled to take place in September.
“This is our inaugural Local Leaders Academy, and the idea is to provide some training and guidance in becoming more effective leaders,” said Tad Long, community and economic development manager for KLC. “It’s also to bring a group of folks together that can collaborate and talk about common issues that they have.”
“The way we’ve broken it down, the first segment for this academy was leading yourself and figuring out what kind of style of leader you are and figuring out who you are, basically,” Cooper said. “Then the second segment was leading your team. That’s all your internal teams, because we have supervisors in here, we have mayors, we have council members; everybody’s kind of leading different people. Then this third one, which is where we are right now, is leading your community. As we know, economic development is a big deal in leading your community, especially right now in Kentucky, so this has been in collaboration with Murray State, who we work with on economic (issues).”
“We have a formal partnership with Murray State in terms of community and economic development,” Long added. “That is a partnership that was established and we’re in our second year (of the partnership) now. We’ve done several things together, and Murray State offered and we were glad to have them host the leadership academy.”
With Murray State’s session being the third in-person segment of the academy, Cook said the first two were in Frankfort and Somerset. The final event will be in Owensboro at the annual KLC Conference and Expo, where the academy participants will present the project they have been working on the entire season. Cook said the inaugural class includes officials from the cities of Lexington, Berea, Louisa, Bowling Green, Shively, Nicholasville, Prestonsburg, Versailles and Georgetown.
“They’re working on a year-long project, basically describing what they think a leader is, or what the perfect leader would be,” Cook said. “They’re kind of trying to take all the things they’ve learned throughout the year to incorporate that.”
Cook said the academy was created because of a need that was identified among KLC’s members.
“(The academy participants) are all KLC board members, so we put this offer out to them first, and they had to apply to be in the academy,” Cook said. “So we’ve got 15 of our board members that are going through this for us, and we’re taking their feedback as we go. So if it works, we’re going to roll it out to our entire membership for applications to pick our second class.”
Chris Wooldridge, director of Murray State’s Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development, assisted with the class on campus Wednesday afternoon.
“We were just talking and really thinking about their leadership roles from the perspective of supporting and encouraging small business and entrepreneurship, especially during the times that we’re coming into now with the economic challenges, et cetera,” Wooldridge said. “The elected officials have so many different responsibilities, and under a leadership position, this is just an opportunity to kind of talk about what their role is and why small businesses are important to any city (regardless of) size and how to support it.”