Members of one group wore sashes with their class name. Members of the other class waited anxiously for the ceremony to begin. This was the first time the Leadership Development Program, a series of classes put on by Saint Leo University, was available to Clerk’s Office teammates. Pasco Clerk of Court Nikki Alvarez-Sowles is excited to make the program available to the team. “I think it’s important to invest in your team,” said Alvarez-Sowles. “And, we haven’t had leadership development for our team in the time that I’ve been in office. So to me, I wanted to invest in our leaders and our future leaders.”
Dr. Cindy Lee is the Director for Alternative Pathways Program at Saint Leo University. “It is an honor to be here at the first graduation ceremony of the Leadership Development Program,” said Dr. Lee. “When I was here at the launching of the program, I stated you will learn to be a leader in both your professional and personal lives. Based on the feedback we received on the training, and also today’s comments, it appears that indeed, that has occurred.”
Mary Owens taught the class. Owens is Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Black Diamond Associates and praised the Teammates who took part. “They wanted to learn, they wanted to grow, they were so open in sharing and absorbing everything we talked about,” said Owens. “That makes it fun, because as a facilitator, your real job isn’t to say what’s on a power point. It’s to help the people who are there go through a self-discovery where they decide what’s important.”
The course was 40 hours and spanned several months. Edward Dwyer is an Operations Manager in the Criminal Department. Dwyer spoke to his fellow graduates and equated what they learned to tools in a tool belt. “The belt includes tools for embracing change, and creating an environment of continuous improvement,” said Dwyer. “The belt includes an exceptional tool, called (EQ) AKA emotional intelligence, which teaches us to be self and socially aware.”
Catalina Manriquez, is an Operations Supervisor in the IT call center, and also praised the course. “I think I built more confidence in myself, knowing that I have people behind me that believe that I can be that best leader,” said Manriquez. “To bring the Team together, to bring them forward, to create more leaders. I mean, I could go on an on!”
Florida West Coast Credit Union sponsored the graduation meal and paid for meals for each of the sessions.
Clerk Nikki Alvarez-Sowles believes, not only are the Teammates winners in the scenario, but so are the citizens with whom they #ServeAndConnect. “For an organization to be able to survive and continue to provide great services, it starts with their team,” said Alvarez-Sowles. “So if you put your efforts into your team, it’s going to turn around and provide our customers with exceptional services.”