The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 3, 2013

LEADERship experience is hands-on course on Ashtabula County

"I didn’t have the time.”

Like most public safety officials, Ashtabula Township Fire Department Chief Mike Fitchet thought he did not have the time to devote to LEADERship Ashtabula County, a commitment of about 25 10-hour days over a nine-month period.

Finally, Fitchet capitulated, took the course and, in 1995, became a graduate. When people tell him they don’t have the time, he responds “You waste too much time trying to get out of it.”

“I said I didn’t think it was going to be worth my time,” admits Ashtabula County Auditor Roger Corlett, Class of 1993. “I grew up (in Ashtabula County), I thought I knew the county.”

Corlett was working as an accountant for Snodgrass at the time and one of the firm’s partners was a LEADERship graduate.

“He kept working on me, and finally, I gave in. He was right. I learned so much about the county. I got a great appreciation for the communities, and I also learned there are an awful lot of square miles in the county.”

LEADERship students cover many of those square miles in buses as they explore the county like a jeweler rotating a multi-faceted gem under a magnifier. From agriculture to manufacturing, government to history, public safety to human services, the LEADERship experience is a comprehensive, hands-on, upper-level course on Ashtabula County.

Learning about the county’s resources, history, challenges and successes is just one layer of the LEADERship experience. As its name suggests, it is about developing leadership skills in people who love Ashtabula County — or at least come to love as a result of learning about all it has to offer during the course of the program.

“We want to change your perspective,” says Laura E. Jones, executive director of LEADERship Ashtabula County. “That’s what it does.”

Fitchet said that students learn as much about themselves as they do the county — their potential as leaders, their style and how to work with the 25 to 35 students who are undergoing the same process of self-discovery.

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