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Leadership Park City Celebrates 25 Years Of Investing In The Leaders Of Tomorrow

Park City has more than 100 nonprofit organizations and people can thank – in part - The Park City Leadership program which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Melissa Allison spoke to the founder Myles Rademan about how it got its start:

Myles Rademan started working in Park City 32 years ago as the planning director. He came to Park City after having trained with the Kellogg Foundation as a leadership fellow for three years.

After doing some community visioning work in 1987 – Rademan heard from people the town was changing so much they no longer recognized anyone at the post office or Alpha-Beta, now known as the Fresh Market.

Rademan said people asked him what could be done about it.

“And I said, ‘Well, maybe we should do a community leadership program,'" Rademan said. "It’s not really original, there are many community leadership programs that had already been around for 20 years when I suggested it and I was familiar with a lot of them but, more than anything I was familiar with what I had worked with Kellogg Foundation on which was leadership training. And so I suggested it and it fell on deaf ears.  When I say deaf ears – it was an idea that was maybe a little bit before its time.”

Rademan brought it up each year but not until 1994 did the Park City Council buy into it.

“At that point the council was ready and they have supported it ever since," Rademan said. "I said this should be a communitywide program. I ran it through the city just for administrative purposes. But right away I talked to the county and they bought in – everyone bought in they said, ‘Yeah, this is...’ I said we’re going to do this low-key, its not going to be a huge fundraising deal or anything like that. And we’ve been running it that way ever since.”

The program kicked off in 1995 and Rademan said the success of the program speaks for itself.

Because of the logistics of the program, they can only accept about 32 of the more than 100 applications they receive each year.

Rademan said, from the beginning, he made sure the idea of financial wherewithal was removed from the program.

“So everyone who is accepted to the program, we give them a scholarship to be in the program," Rademan said. "Most programs of our nature charge anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000 per participant. It’s a yearlong program and it’s probably what we spend on each one of them. So there’s real community investment. Just like we invest in trails, open space, schools - we’re investing in our future leaders.”

Anyone who doubts the success of the program, Rademan said, just has to look to an elected body, appointed body or nonprofit and they’ll find one of their more than 600 alumni there.

The window to apply for the program’s 25th year opens up on Sunday. Rademan said it takes about 15 minutes to fill out.

“It’s a yearlong commitment, there are 10 sessions," Rademan said. "What your obligation is, if you’re accepted, is to participate and be present because we are investing in you. And we want you there to be as good as you can and join the interaction of the people in the class that is so important to us.”

Rademan believes the networking that happens in the program has proven to last a lifetime and it happens through the processes the program walks its participants through.

“We do some skills training," Rademan said. "We do some knowledge-based training like, ‘how does the state work, how does the city and county work?’ But we do a lot of internal training. ‘What does ethical leadership, what does that mean? What does it mean to have inclusive leadership?’  And it’s been interesting. Often our classes have been three to five years ahead of the general population on what’s important.”

The class also does a project of their choosing and this year’s class, which is coming to a close, chose food waste. Past classes have selected things like helmet safety and banning plastic bags.

And to finish the year up – the class goes on the annual City Tour that lasts five days. It gives the class an opportunity to be inspired by what other towns are doing.

The program is open to anyone in the greater Park City area which includes Salt Lake City. Rademan said as long as you have a relationship to Park City – be it work or you live here - you qualify. As for requirements, show up and participate in the class project.

The applications are available online at parkcity.org beginning July 1.

I’m Melissa Allison, KPCW News.

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