Challenge Accepted: How One Program Impacts an Entire Community

As an employer in the Volusia county area, there are options for training key personnel to become better leaders: professional coaches, online classes, seminars and private groups that meet regularly to sharpen each member’s skills. However, there is a unique program that stands out among the rest. Did you know there is a program that allows employers to identify an employee that shows great potential, immerse them into a group of professionals to excel their knowledge of how a community works, and unite behind a common issue and work together to solve it? Experiences like this are rare for employees and you might be surprised how it opens minds and impacts professionals.

Designed for the community’s most active leaders, the Leadership Daytona Program of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce has a very successful track record of equipping graduates with the skills, knowledge and contacts needed as they accept the challenge to become a more visible resource while making an impact for the greater good of our community. With over 36 years and 900+ graduates of the program, this three-month journey is specifically designed to engage participants in a unique and powerful opportunity to jointly engage in solving a specific community issue, while learning from each other and the community’s top leaders.

One of the most unique aspects of the Leadership Daytona program is the newly implemented “CEO Challenge.” Created and developed by Bo Brewer, CEO of the People Business, who along with former Leadership Daytona program facilitator, Joni Hunt, Director of Government Affairs for Florida Hospital, re-envisioned and directed the inner workings of the program over the previous five years. “I took a look at what was most successful in my own business and understood that to develop strong teams who work well together, you really had to create a crisis, throw them into it and allow them to operate in a way that as team they can come together, decipher the problem then work to find the perfect solution. The results had to be measurable, involve all, define the issue, develop objectives and solve it now. To do this, my partner Joni and I sought the support of our extensive network of local CEO’s and challenged them to come up with a real need that truly kept them up at night. The challenge had to be one that they haven’t solved, yet also had a high community based impact. The results of these challenges are well known and have led to some amazing accomplishments for our community, such as the enhancement and effectiveness of the local 211 system, and a new young philanthropist program for the Museum of Arts & Sciences. This year’s new Challenge from Team Volusia that developed into a Volusia Proud program designed to keep young professionals in our area well after graduation while enticing more to be a permanent part of our community. It’s a proud moment to watch each of them as they grow and learn throughout the process,” said Brewer.

While many leaders strive hard to reach the pinnacle of their own profession, leaders interested in community service typically need an understanding of how things really work. Knowing who is “out there” to help, while gaining a deeper understanding of how things get done helps to make the community a much better place to live, work and play. Leadership Daytona provides this understanding and more, as the courses, speakers and information gleaned from the experience can give even the most seasoned professional an inroad to successes that can impact an entire community.

Graduates of the program gain a broader perspective. Other than the team work of completing the CEO challenge, for many it will be the first time they see different areas of how an entire community works, from basic utilities, to social services, non- profits, government, law enforcement, then healthcare and key tourism sites, to simulated society exercises that demonstrate what it may be like for others. These are some examples of the program topics during the program. Upon conclusion, of the program, the perspective of where they live is changed with the knowledge and education they gained. And they have created new relationships during the time spent.

Take a look at what some of this year’s Graduates are saying about their experience.

“My participation in the Leadership Daytona Program has been a great experience. I have gained a greater appreciation for the breadth and depth of expertise, passion and commitment that area professionals bring to their respective careers and to the local community. I did not grow up in the area and travel regularly in my role at NASCAR. This program has provided me the opportunity to acquire insight into key business sectors in the area, as well as identify ways in which I can become a more engaged citizen and business leader in the community.”

Dawn A. Harris Sr. Director, Multicultural Development | NASCAR

“The Leadership Program has completely exceeded my expectations. The program exposes you to the many facets of our community. There’s an entire world of inspiring people working to make Volusia County a safer, healthier and more prosperous place to live. In addition to meeting some of our top leaders, the program encourages growth on an individual level through exercises, volunteering, group projects, presentations, new perspectives and the ability to step out of your comfort zone. Lastly, the nature of the program allows for genuine relationships to develop among classmates. There’s a “we’re in it together” mentality that creates tight bonds and deep connections that will last a lifetime.”

Chris Steffen,

Vice President of Sales & Marketing | JS Sherman & Associates

“I was born and raised in Daytona but it wasn’t until I was accepted into Leadership Daytona when I truly saw my city for the first time. The program has given me insight into our community’s innovative and budding industries, allowed me to learn from local trailblazers, and most importantly, introduced me to the most remarkable group of people who I am honored to call my friends.”

Paria Ghyabi

Business Development Coordinator | Ghyabi & Associates

As you look to invest in your employees and develop them as professionals, don’t overlook this opportunity to allow them to get engaged into the community with the Leadership Daytona Program. For more information visit the web site and click on the Community Development section.

Skip Lily

Skip Lily

In 2003, Skip joined Vision HR, Inc. headquartered in Daytona Beach, a full service Human Resource Outsourcer. Vision HR helps businesses manage payroll, timekeeping systems, human resource compliance, workers comp, custom group benefits, 401k’s, commercial business insurance packages and recruiting. Having held positions of Business Development Manager and Insurance Agency Manager, today he heads up all Sales and Marketing Activity for the firm.