By Jade Ruggieri
Leadership Monongalia is accepting applications from those interested in cultivating leadership to foster the state of West Virginia’s prosperity. Each year, 20 applicants are selected to participate in the eight-month program of day-long seminars ranging from topics about business, labor, education, the arts, government and community-based organizations to reflect the diversity of Mon County.
“One of the biggest benefits of this program is it’s outside the normal things you would typically see in your day-to-day,” Jared Mazezka, co-director and alumni of Leadership Mon, and vice president of business development at Korevariance, said. “It exposes you and provides insights as to what things are happening here, what is provided, what organizations and businesses are here giving it their all, to better themselves as well as members of the community.”
Leadership Mon also aids in learning new perspectives and “helps to bring like-minded individuals who truly want to make a difference in Mon County and make it better,” Mazezka said.
With over 400 alumni in the network who have graduated from Leadership Mon, the program helps build lasting connections to the area people call home.
When Mazazka was in the program, he worked with electrical circuits in one session and learned how to draw blood in another session. Each meeting is focused on a different industry, so participants in the program understand the wants and needs of the community.
Applicants 18 years or older are welcome to apply as the program is designed to expand Mon County and the state’s civic leadership. Those selected often possess diverse backgrounds and talents but are united in the goal to inspire others and foster a new spirit of energy, enthusiasm and vitality throughout the county, according to organizers. There is a $600 tuition fee.
Enabling participants to engage in face-to-face discussions with experts and key decision makers, Leadership Mon aims to to develop and sustain community leaders.
“Coming from Morgantown, you see the changes that have happened over the past 10 years,” Vice President of Chamber Services at the Morgantown Area Partnership Anna Carrier said. “It’s exciting to see people coming from all over — all walks of life — into this town and having a passion for it. Seeing people come to town and expanding everyone’s horizons is giving us something to work toward through networking.”
Leadership Mon started 26 years ago to bring community leaders together to help move the community forward within the different industries in Mon County. Regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, philosophy, disability or employment status, Leadership Mon offers networking and collaboration for all career paths.
“I really encourage people to apply, take the application seriously and put your heart into it,” Michelle Hopkins, co-director and alumna of Leadership Mon and head of marketing, and public relations for Phoenix Public House, said. “Whether you are a college student or someone who is retired and just moved to the area — you can learn more about the community and how to get involved [through Leadership Mon]. Whatever your background is, is important to growing Mon County and lending to the growth that we offer.”
Mazezka added, “The only prerequisite we have is to grow the city of Morgantown and Mon County as a whole to do what you can to make a difference.”
Hopkins said her favorite part about being involved in Leadership Mon is building relationships with a diverse group of people who live in the Morgantown area as it’s exciting to have open dialogue, conversation and even “a-ha moments” of participants learning what Mon County offers to its residents.
The applications are due by Aug. 1 and selections will be made by Aug. 15. Spanning from September 2022 to May 2023, attendance for the one Thursday session of each month as well as one mandatory retreat are required for graduation of the program.
To learn more about Leadership Mon or to apply, visit www.leadershipmon.org.