Foundation celebrates leadership program

PARKERSBURG – A program designed to partner regional college students with local business, non-profit and government entities for a work fellowship celebrated its second year Friday with a luncheon at the Blennerhassett Hotel.

About 60 people recognized the second year of the Civic Leaders Fellowship program where the Our Community’s Foundation places college students with government, businesses and non-profit entities in the region.

Jim Strader, who oversees the program, said the aim is to retain local college graduates, “civic leaders,” in the area.

“We want to keep talent in the region,” he said.

Strader said the program has 24 leaders, 10 of whom are in their second year.

The program is supported by the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and affiliated foundations from surrounding and supporting counties. Civic Leaders are placed through Wood, Wirt, Ritchie, Roane, Doddridge, Calhoun, Gilmer, Jackson, Mason and Washington counties. Leaders are selected through an application process and must reside in the region.

Strader said the employment is at no cost to the hosts. Costs are picked up by the foundation, which raises funds to pair the leaders with a regional entity.

Employment of record is done through Parkersburg-based Professional Services of America.

“We try to match the civic leaders’ interest with a entity in the region,” Strader said.

Strader said two civic leaders majoring in accounting are working with financial service agencies. Three others with majors in the medical field have been places in regional hospitals and medical centers.

Strader said one student working in a hospital setting followed a nurse on a 12-hour shift and witnessed a C-section.

“You learn pretty quick if you want to be nurse,” he said.

In addition to the work experience, civic leaders spend one day a week developing the participants professionally and personally. Strader said that includes providing speakers with information to share that will benefit the leaders.

“We want them to be better civic leaders in the community,” he said. “The region isn’t a bad place to live”

Strader said the program is being copied by the Ohio Valley Foundation in Wheeling, which is in the first year of the program.

Ann Beck, chairwoman of the Community’s Foundation, said the program exemplifies what the foundation does.

“We need to keep the educated – the best and brightest – at the local level,” Strader said.