Celebrating Graduates and 10 Years of Great Lakes Leadership Academy

This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Great Lakes Leadership Academy (GLLA) graduation and 10-year anniversary celebration. First, I’d like to congratulate all of the graduates of the program, especially our very own Imelda Galdamez, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator.

“The Great Lakes Leadership Academy has helped me believe in the power of leading from love, leading authentically through conflicts, trusting the process of change and working collaboratively across differences,” Imelda said. “As GLLA’s states on their website, ‘The value of people working together is greater than the sum of what they can accomplish alone. When power is shared and diverse voices are heard, solutions are more likely to benefit the community as a whole.’”

I’ve heard nothing but good things from the more than 400 participants like Imelda who continue to live GLLA’s mission statement by promoting positive change, economic vitality and resource conservation, and enhancing the quality of life in Michigan by encouraging leadership for the common good.

The GLLA began with the aid of a planning grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It allowed the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), MSU Extension and Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station (now AgBioResearch) to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders who represented communities and the food system, agriculture, manufacturing, natural resources and environmental sectors of the economy to collaborate on the elements of a leadership training program. The result was a program that presents leadership concepts in the context of current issues and brings together current leaders in government, nonprofits and industry to broaden their perspectives about key sustainability issues and consider how leadership for the common good can influence Michigan’s future.

I was thrilled when MSU CANR Dean Ron Hendrick asked that we move the management of GLLA to MSU Extension. GLLA has been developing and empowering leaders since its first cohort was formed in 2007, so it is a perfect fit with the work we do through the leadership and civic engagement work team within the Greening Michigan Institute.

We’re looking forward to welcoming GLLA into the MSU Extension family and the ability to shape the direction of developing and empowering Michigan leaders for the next 10 years and beyond.

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