Program Developing Leaders For City’s Future
Program Developing Leaders For City’s Future
Mercedes has launched a leadership program to develop improved civic awareness and gain a better understanding of how the community works, with the goal of working for a better city.
Leadership Mercedes is modeled after similar well-established programs in other Rio Grande Valley cities and around the state and nation. The concept is to have a group of civic-minded residents who live or work in Mercedes – or both – gather for intensive monthly classes in which they are exposed to the different elements of community life.
“Our vision and mission are to serve our community by building community leaders with the skills necessary for promoting citizenship and service,’’ according to the program’s Facebook page.
The program has a specific curriculum. Meetings are held at different locations with speakers giving insights from governmental entities, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations, connecting participants with current community leaders. The idea is that the participants when infused with a greater knowledge of their city can then step up and themselves seek positions of leadership.
In McAllen, for example, such a program was started in the 1980s after a divisive mayoral race which badly split the community. A Leadership McAllen program was then set up, and over the years, it has built a network of alumni that have gone on to serve on the city commission, local utility board, city advisory boards, and with nonprofit organizations.
The goals for Leadership Mercedes are similar ones. C.A. Hinojosa III, a community leader who helped get the program started recently, pointed to the wide range of ages of the first Leadership Mercedes class. An open invitation was made for the program’s first participants, he said. The leadership classes run for eight months. Program participants meet once a month, the last Friday of each month, for four consecutive hours. They hear from business, civic, and government leaders, getting their perspectives on what makes Mercedes tick.
“It’s a big commitment,’’ said Hinojosa, a local businessman, of the time dedicated by the participants to the program. “The first class is a good pool of ages and people. We want to bring an awareness of what the city has to offer.
Idea Becomes Reality
The idea of establishing a Leadership Mercedes program was discussed over the last three years, Hinojosa said.
Proponents for such a program reached out to city government, the Mercedes Chamber of Commerce, the Development Corporation of Mercedes, and other leading local voices in gaining their support for Leadership Mercedes. A welcome reception was held in early March at The Acker House in getting the program launched. The early reviews from participants and speakers were entirely positive.
“It’s awesome to be part of the first class of Mercedes Leadership,’’ said Ruben Gutierrez, a program participant. “I know this will set a milestone for other people to join this group next time. They won’t be disappointed. There’s a lot to learn and they can apply what they learn in their place of business.’’
A speaker at the first meeting expressed his excitement in seeing the program launch.
“I really enjoyed addressing and welcoming Leadership Mercedes, Class 1,’’ Oscar Montoya said. “After we spent time visiting and sharing ideas, I’m glad to say we are blessed with talented people that care and love Mercedes. There is a lot of energy and ideas in this group.’’
The Mercedes-based Leadership Empowerment Group, with its chief executive, Dr. Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa, is helping the group in its launch. Dr. Hinojosa is an assistant professor for the School of Business and Leadership for Our Lady Of The Lake University in addition to owning and operating her own company. She has worked with leadership programs in other cities and is providing her expertise to the upstart Leadership Mercedes program.
C.A. Hinojosa said the intent is for the first graduates of the program to take charge of Leadership Mercedes in moving it forward. As the program develops, with its own board in place, it will build a sustainable organization, he said.
“Our intentions are not to keep it, but to help it get going, and then tell the participants, `OK, now it’s your turn, take the program forward,’ ’’ Hinojosa said.
For more information about Leadership Mercedes, call 956-565-2425.
- Ricardo D. Cavazos