Article provided by: Blake Campbell, Lead Facilitator of Ankeny Leadership Institute

Are great leaders born? Or are they made? What if it was both? In a time of ever evolving growth and change in our community, the only constant is the need for individuals with the skills to lead others who are willing to step up.

The Ankeny Leadership Institute (ALI) once again is seeking the next generation of Ankeny residents who are ready to increase their understanding of our community challenges and refine their personal and professional skills to help move the next great ideas and accomplish the important work ahead. Our program focuses on community understanding and leadership skill development through collaborative learning experiences.

When someone thinks of a “leadership academy,” they may immediately picture workshops or seminars. At ALI, we see our Emerging Leaders Experience program as a catalyst for transformation, creating a ripple effect of positive change within individuals and their community. For over 20 years, the Ankeny Leadership Institute has provided participants with the tools, skills, and confidence needed to become effective agents of change, and contributing to the fabric of Ankeny.  Each year, dozens of citizens apply for a spot in this 8-month community leadership development experience.

At the core of our program, we believe that everyone has the potential to enact meaningful change within their community. Through monthly class sessions from August to April, learning from community leaders and hands-on experiences, participants are equipped with vital skills like clear communication, problem-solving, and collaboration. These skills not only empower individuals to take on leadership roles but also enable them to mobilize others and work towards common goals in their office, neighborhood, or local organization.

One of the most powerful impacts of ALI is building a connection to the past, present and future of Ankeny. Many individuals enter these programs with limited knowledge of our community, but by the end of the program, they discover paths to engage in leadership roles throughout Ankeny. This new engagement propels participants to become advocates for issues they are passionate about and driving positive change in their neighborhoods.

Furthermore, the Ankeny Leadership Institute program identifies experiences and skills in participants and works to help them develop ways to use those strengths to make an impact. The program utilizes CliftonStrengths to create a common “leadership language” for class members to support each other’s personal and professional development.

With nearly 400 graduates over the history of the program, our alumni can be seen in every part of our community from elected positions to community organizations. A recent graduate of the Emerging Leaders Experience had this to say about their participation, “When I was first selected for the program, I thought I knew what I wanted to get out of the experience. However, I quickly learned that I was gaining so much more through our small groups, Strengths work and meeting with community leaders. I can’t wait for the rest of my team to be a part of future years.”

If you are looking for ways to increase your impact and understanding of the Ankeny community, increase your leadership strengths and partner with fellow community members to identify solutions to our most pressing challenges, the Emerging Leaders Experience welcomes your application. Applications open April 15 and close May 15. To learn more about the program and to apply for consideration, visit