In October, I had the privilege of graduating with 21 amazing local businesspeople from the Chamber’s Leadership Sheridan County program. We spent 10 months together, meeting one day per month to grow our leadership skills and learn about the variety of components that make up Sheridan County. We also had the opportunity to learn about state government during an overnight trip to Cheyenne. In 2020, my class will participate in the second part of the program — planning the monthly modules.

I was part of the 26th class of Leadership Sheridan County, which now has more than 370 graduates. It has been an amazingly successful program that continues to evolve to meet the needs of area businesses and employees.

The success of the program is very much due to the dedicated program graduates who serve on the steering committee. This volunteer committee meets monthly to ensure content is relevant and that all details are covered.

The committee’s most difficult task has become class selection. As the program grows in popularity, the Chamber has had far more applicants than available spots. We’re limited in the number of class members we can take due to space restrictions at many of the places the class tours. While it is wonderful to have so much interest in the program, it creates quite a challenge for the steering committee to choose the 22 applicants to be part of the class.

The committee uses a blind process for its initial applicant selection. When applications are received, names are removed before committee members receive them. Then the selection is done via a matrix, where each application is rated based on overall completion and quality of answers to each question. Finally, the committee comes together to review the results of the matrix and discuss their selections.

A number of factors come into play during this final selection. Additional points are given to an applicant who has applied before but wasn’t selected. The committee also focuses on diversity in the class — gender, industry, stage of leadership, career level, etc. It makes for a much more valuable experience for each class member to learn from and build relationships with people who have varying experiences and perspectives.

The steering committee is quite fortunate to have so many highly qualified applicants to select from, but it definitely makes for a challenging selection process. I don’t envy them.

For 2020, the incoming class will be the first to go through the program with a new curriculum customized just for Leadership Sheridan County. The curriculum will present leadership principles and ideas from a variety of leadership experts, whereas the previous curriculum utilized John C. Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The class will continue to tour area businesses and organizations and hear from local leaders.

I’m excited (and a little envious) for the incoming class to participate in this new curriculum as they will be exposed to such a variety of leadership topics. Congratulations to you all! It will be a great experience for you. For more information about the Leadership Sheridan County program, call the Chamber at 307-672-2485.

Jodi Hartley is marketing and communications director with the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.