Blazing new trails for local leadership development

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In this CAWLM issue of all things Lansing, a fantastic program to highlight and celebrate is the relatively new Leadership Lansing program of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC). I have had the privilege of co-facilitating this program with fellow coach, Ross Woodstock. 

A few years ago, after a meeting in Kalamazoo of local Michigan chambers of commerce, LRCC President and CEO Tim Daman, Executive Vice President Kristin Beltzer and Woodstock brought the idea of a local leadership program back to our region. And what a great idea it was. The second cohort of 37 current and emerging leaders graduated this past May with contagious enthusiasm!

The seven-month program is designed to give participants a high-level view of the different systems, issues and growth opportunities in the Lansing area; participants hear from elected officials, education system leaders, home-grown business owners and many others. 

With valuable input and feedback from the first Leadership Lansing cohort, the second year of the program kicked off with a reception and dinner at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum to steep the group in the history of our location. The cohort also enjoyed a tour of the Turner-Dodge Heritage Center.

If there’s one way Leadership Lansing stays fit, it’s by walking … a lot. Behind-the-scenes tours included General Motors, McLaren Greater Lansing, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), Granger Recycling, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union’s (MSUFCU) new building, the Board of Water & Light’s cogeneration plant, and the Lansing Regional Airport. As a result, participant pedometers were racking up the steps!

Another feature of the program is “Lunch with a Leader”. This year, the group heard from some of our outstanding local leaders including:

  • President Tim Daman, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Principal Kelly Rossman-McKinney, Truscott Rossman
  • President Dr. Lou Anna Simon, Michigan State University
  • President April Clobes, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union
  • Chief Operating Officer Casey Kandow, McLaren Greater Lansing
  • Executive Vice President Jim Robinson, Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan
  • State Director Paula Cunningham, American Association of Retired Persons

In addition to talking to local leaders and seeing more of our great region, participants enhanced their own personal leadership skills with training on coaching, strengths-based leadership and visioning exercises. The cohort also practiced small group presentations highlighting these local gems:

  • Old Town
  • Our Culture of Coffee, featuring local coffee shops
  • Michigan State University Science Festival
  • Lansing City Market
  • Abrams Planetarium
  • Conquest Fitness and Conquest Health Foundation

The Leadership Lansing program provides invaluable networking opportunities within our diverse community. Making these connections across industries and cultures can enhance the fabric of our local life. To learn more about Leadership Lansing, visit the LRCC’s website at lansingchamber.org. A big thank you is owed to all the sponsoring organizations that have sent participants over the last two years. We look forward to kicking off our third group of cohorts in October.


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Susan Combs

Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit SusanCombsCoaching.com or MentorRoadmap.com for more information.