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Leadership Oakland's 2017 Day of Service rehabilitated a home for Monarch Wings

Day of Service 2017

Day of Service 2017

Day of Service 2017

Leadership Oakland is a civic leadership program that approaches leadership development from the personal, professional, and public perspectives with a focus on the local community.
 
Since 1990, Leadership Oakland's Cornerstone Program has brought together 1,200 leaders from corporate, civic, and nonprofit organizations throughout Oakland County. The nine-month program starts every year in September and ends with graduation in June. The program brings together 50 leaders from all different backgrounds – age, race, gender, industry, and all at different levels in their professional careers – who are smart, talented professionals with a passion and commitment for making their organizations and the world around them a better place.
 
The "Day of Service" has been a part of the Leadership Oakland program for more than 20 years. For the Day of Service, these 50 leaders are challenged as a group to develop a day-long service project that will impact an organization or community. They must work together as a group over the nine-month program to brainstorm, plan, and implement this service day, from finding a project and determining its scope to doing the fundraising and marketing. One thing this helps these leaders to develop is leadership competency skills like conflict resolution.
 
"Put 50 high-achieving individuals in one room and conflict resolution, influencing, and teamwork come into play," says Nancy Maurer, Executive Director of Leadership Oakland and an alumna of the program herself. "This encourages them to get out of their comfort zones. It's a nice opportunity for them to stretch outside of their comfort zone in a non-work setting."
 
Each participant in the Leadership Oakland program is required to take part in the Day of Service in some way, whether serving on the steering committee or being there that day to provide volunteer help.
 
This year, the 2016-17 cohort chose to partner with Monarch Wings to rehabilitate a home that will be a safe house and give a new start to 16 survivors of human trafficking.
 
"Each year the Day of Service projects get more ambitious, and this was the most ambitious project to date," Maurer says. She explains that the nonprofit didn't even have a house for them to work on when the idea first germinated, so the Leadership Oakland participants went through the whole process of securing the house and the nonprofit began the initial rehabilitation work on it, but by the time the team arrived on May 20 for the Day of Service itself, the scope of the project was completely different than they had planned.
 
"This year strategic planners had to fly by the seat of their pants because we were working with a house that was actively under construction, and all previous plans went right out the window. Our leaders had to be flexible. For some that came naturally; others, not so much."
 
Maurer says they had known a couple of weeks prior that the rehab work was behind schedule, and so they were able to go in on May 20 and do more exterior and landscape work – sanding, painting, laying a brick paver patio, landscaping, mulching, trimming fruit trees, and constructing a greenhouse in partnership with the previous year's day of service nonprofit, Micah 6 Community.
 
The 2016 class worked with Micah 6 to build a greenhouse in Pontiac that is now growing fresh fruits and vegetables to provide healthy food alternatives to an urban neighborhood that wouldn't otherwise have that kind of fresh food access. The previous class partnered with Humble Design to "extreme makeover" five houses, and was able to watch as the new tenants came in and saw their newly furnished homes. The 18th cohort developed the idea for a three-day Junior Leadership Oakland workshop for incoming high school seniors to build their leadership skills, which is now held every year.
 
"The Day of Service projects have a longer-term impact than just that one day," Maurer says.
 
This September, Leadership Oakland will welcome its 28th cohort. Maurer says that one of the great things about the program is that it puts all of these professionals on a level playing field.
 
"For the most part these are professionals who work in environments where they wear business suits and professional attire most of their careers," she explains, "so they get to know each other in a different way there, too. They first get to know each other on a three-day retreat up north in cabin – no suits, no titles. They get to know each other only by name and organization. This really creates an even playing field with no egos. That retreat really starts the bonding process, then over the next nine months they learn about each their professionally as well. Then at the Day of Service they get to know each other in a community service and teamwork capacity."
 
To learn more about Leadership Oakland's programs or apply for a future cohort, check out their website at http://www.leadershipoakland.com/
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