This spring, Northwestern College’s Center for Innovation and Leadership decided to offer a regional leadership development program. Applications were opened earlier this year and 16 leaders were selected.
Josh Van Es is the assistant director of the Center for Innovation and Leadership and will lead the program. He has a big-picture mindset when it comes to the goals of Accelerate Siouxland.
Van Es said, “The goal of Accelerate Siouxland is to accelerate the communities in Northwest Iowa. We do this by taking current and future leaders from communities around the area and we give them leadership training along with showing them how successful communities work.”
The 16 leaders come from a variety of backgrounds including employees from Diamond Vogel Paints, Peoples Bank, Sekisui Aerospace, MOC-Floyd Valley High School and even a couple of NW students.
When asked why the Center for Innovation and Leadership decided to include college students in the mix, Van Es said, “We think it is a great opportunity for students to see what it takes to be successful outside of Northwestern’s walls. The student participants have teachers all around them during the sessions. They are able to learn from the facilitators, experts, and fellow external participants.”
Steven Van Meeteren and Noah Smith were the two honors students that were selected to participate in the program. They were accepted through an application process in the spring.
Van Meeteren said, “As a Siouxlander myself, I thought it would be helpful to learn more about operations in the area while at the same time developing leadership skills. I was especially interested in learning about rural health and non-profits in the area.”
The program will meet on the second Thursday of every month from September through April. The location of the meetings will change each time depending on the topic that will be discussed and each community’s strengths. The first meeting took place in Sheldon and focused on non-profits.
The meetings are broken up into two sessions: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning sessions focus on personal development ,and the afternoons are all about community understanding.
After the first two sessions, subgroups will identify organizations that they want to accelerate and work together to create a project to do just that. This will all be presented at the last session at the end of April.
Accelerate Siouxland plans to continue this program for the foreseeable future and will be accepting two or three more honors students in the spring. The students currently involved view this as a great opportunity.
Smith said, “The thing that I appreciate most about the Siouxland Journey Program is that I have the opportunity to connect with business leaders here and in the surrounding area to learn how businesses are run and how they impact the community. It has also been insightful to learn more about the businesses and to have the opportunity to network within the community.”