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Changing the leadership landscape in Northeast Wisconsin

Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce launching its first-ever Leadership Academy

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June 1, 2023

KAUKAUNA – For the first time ever, the Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce is offering a nine-month Leadership Academy designed to redefine leadership and help unleash potential.

It’s an offering that Jennifer Pierre, director of events & community engagement for the chamber, said seemed like a necessary and desired next step for chamber members. 

“We did offer a service leadership workshop – it was popular and highly attended,” she said. “It seems like many of the attendees and the members wanted more.”

Pierre said the program will be more of a “deeper dive” into different areas of leadership competency.

“It will feature expert-led discussions, real-world simulations and each month’s session will be held at a different business within the community,” she said. “This way, participants get exposure to what other companies’ corporate cultures are like.”

Pierre said the program, which starts in September, is designed for high-potential employees, people leaders and business owners who want to develop their leadership confidence, build high-performing teams and create a culture of success in their workplace.

“The program is designed for anybody – somebody who wants to further develop their leadership competence, work on the art of building influence, work on communication skills – overall want to become a better leader.”

The curriculum, Pierre said, is designed to enhance participants’ leadership skills, confidence, emotional intelligence and ethical decision-making.

Part of the demand for a program like the Leadership Academy, Pierre said, stems from the current job market.

“I think one thing facing organizations today is the turnover of employees,” she said. “Retaining employees is a huge focus in companies, big and small.”

A portion of the competency curriculum, Pierre said, will focus around that.

“It’s also going to be rooted in servant leadership, culture and organizational culture,” she said. “We will also have a month focused around mental health, which is a growing concern in the workplace.”

Some of the session titles for the nine-month program include:
Authentic ConfidenceServant LeadershipInvesting in Your PeopleCulture Plus StrategyMental Health: You and Your TeamYour Personal Brand as a LeaderLeader RoundtableHow Great Leaders Build Great Teams
The program will wrap up in May 2024 with an awards luncheon.

Program details
The Leadership Academy will be nine months long, running from September to next May, with participants meeting monthly for half-day sessions from 8 a.m. to noon.

“It’s a one, four-hour investment of time per month,” she said. “We do have some out-of-class homework (participants will be asked to complete).”

Pierre said one of the things that separate the Heart of the Valley Chamber’s Leadership program from others throughout Northeast Wisconsin is the half-day time commitment.

// Pierre said participants will be encouraged to network outside of the designated meeting times in order to get to know each other a little bit better. Submitted Photo

I think it’s a bit different in the structure because a lot of the other programs are full-day sessions,” she said. “We wanted this to be something that won’t necessarily take an employee away from their duties at work (for an extended period of time). We are kicking it off right away in the morning, a four-hour chunk of time will be in the morning, and then they can go back to work in the afternoon. I think a lot of the leaders we spoke with when we were developing this program seemed to like that structure.”

Pierre said participants will also be encouraged to network outside of the designated meeting times.

“Starting lunch buddy type programs where we pair some of them up and encourage them to grab a coffee, grab lunch or maybe do a happy hour to get to know each other a bit better – help further that networking piece and encourage friendships,” she said. 

Pierre said in its first year, the chamber is capping the class at 24 participants, which is already filling up fast.

“The plan is to continue this year after year,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to be a hot topic a year from now, or three years, so I feel like the program will evolve as time goes on.”

The cost for participants is $1,450 for chamber members and $2,450 for non-members – with all necessary materials included.
The application deadline is July 15.

To learn more about the program and to apply, visit

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