DU Graduates Community Leaders

New group of grads boost leadership skills with university program.

Fifteen community members have become the second group to complete Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business Community Leadership Program.

Three groups presented their final projects on problem-solving in the community in Parmer Hall, including mapping and shared services for not-for-profit organizations, student advisories in high schools and childhood obesity.

After presentations, the participants attended a luncheon and completion ceremony, where Brennan School of Business Dean Arvid Johnson called on the participants to use what they learned to help solve problems in the community if they are asked to do so.

Johnson then thanked the participant’s employers for letting their employees take the time off needed to complete the program.

Program co-facilitator Ron Bacci said the goal of the program, in conjunction with the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation and the Communityworks Advisory Board, is to “take people involved in the community and make them better leaders.”

The nine-month program teaches creative problem solving, developing talent, negotiation, conflict resolution, project management and strategic planning, according to a press release.

Participants meet once-a-month, during which community leaders come to speak to the group, co-facilitator Jean Bruno said. Bruno, who called the program graduates “gangbusters,” developed the program’s content and monitored progress alongside Bacci.

Bacci said taking the sessions from six months during the first Community Leadership Program, to nine months for the second group “gave the participants more time to develop presentations and hear more topics.”

Karen Faust, president and owner of The Nauset Group, worked on the high school student advisory project.

A student advisory takes place “in a school setting, with a small group of kids, on a regularly scheduled basis,” she said.

Advisories can “provide a caring environment for academic and social guidance and support, and character and leadership development” for students, according to the group’s final presentation.

The 2010-11 Community Leadership Program participants:

  • Julie Farrell, director of practice management, Loyola Gottlieb Memorial Hospital
  • Karen Faust, president and owner, The Nauset Group
  • Caleb Fields manager of young alumni relations, Fenwick High School
  • Carla Pierre Gini, retail associate, Marion Street Cheese Market
  • Michael Lushniak, aquatic and rink program supervisor, Park District of Oak Park
  • Julie Mann, coordinator of teaching and learning programs, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine
  • Sarah Niederman, social worker, Hephzibah Children's Association
  • Melanie Nowacki, director of member advocacy, Feeding America
  • Tom Olis, director of business development, Final Finish Properties
  • David Parsons, chief operations officer, West Cook YMCA
  • Ellen Plourde, associate director of information technology, Dominican University
  • K.C. Poulos, sustainability manager, Village of Oak Park
  • Karin Schindel, superintendent of business operations, Park District of Oak Park
  • Lauren Smith, human resources director, Oak Park-River Forest High School
  • Angela Spino, director of marketing, Rush Oak Park Hospital
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