Rochester's premier leadership development program has moved to the University of Rochester in an effort to expand its offerings with new ventures specifically for college students.
Josanne Reaves, executive director of Leadership Rochester, said the nonprofit group's work with diverse people who are leaders or who have leadership potential is ready to collaborate further with area colleges and universities. "For students not to be involved in the urban area just outside their door is a missed opportunity," Reaves said. "We're in a community where college students can volunteer and interact daily with others."
Now in its 11th year, Leadership Rochester has trained almost 400 leaders in the greater Rochester community-from social workers and lawyers to newspaper editors and police officers. Its graduates compose an impressive network of community contacts for students. "We've trained all these adults to promote positive change in the community," she said. "We can do the same for students."
"The presence of Leadership Rochester will broaden our campus-community relationships and provide for students a leadership training model that has been very successful," said Jody Asbury, College Dean of Students.
A partnership among the University of Rochester, Leadership Rochester, the Rochester Area Community Foundation, and the 19th Ward Community Association produced last summer's first team of Rochester Urban Fellows in city neighborhoods. Fellows worked for nonprofit groups and agencies in the southwestern and southeastern parts of the city four days a week. On the fifth day, students participated in workshops to increase their knowledge and awareness of issues facing urban areas. They earned a stipend for the experience.
In fall 2001, Reaves and Asbury refined the idea for a "civic engagement program"-a step beyond community service-where college students would meet regularly to learn the history and the contemporary needs of people in urban areas. The program is now in its second year with a total of 19 students from the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe Community College, State University College at Brockport and at Geneseo, and St. John Fisher College.
Modeled after Leadership Rochester's original program, this initiative attracts students who want to know more about the community outside their campuses and help involve other students. They meet regularly on Saturdays to build their skills and discover people and programs in the city.
"I've found it so valuable to work with young people in the Civic Engagement Program and Urban Fellows," Reaves stated. "Students bring a fresh perspective to issues and their idealism breaks through some of the barriers to finding solutions to problems. From a neighborhood perspective, our goal is to engage these students in their communities and give them a 'front seat' to all Rochester has to offer, both during their college years and as they graduate."
William Scott Green, dean of the College, and Asbury invited Leadership Rochester to locate on campus and the group's board approved the move last fall. As many as 700 U.S. communities have Leadership Rochester-like programs. Many operate within larger groups, such as a Chamber of Commerce, or are situated on college campuses.
Reaves, who has directed Leadership Rochester for two years, is a resident of the 19th Ward and past president of the 19th Ward Community Association. She is a graduate of SUNY Brockport.
For more information about Leadership Rochester, which is located in room 510 in Wilson Commons on the River Campus, contact (585) 275-9002.