When Jean Northenor posed this question to the late Matt Dalton nearly 30 years ago, little did they realize it would serve as the catalyst for the creation of the Kosciusko Leadership Academy. A successful Executive Vice-President at Lake City Bank, Jean was often asked to serve on boards of local organizations. She was pleased to be of service to her community, but something began to bother her. Regardless of the board meeting, the same group of local leaders was in attendance.
Alarmed by the apparent lack of fresh leadership, she voiced her concern to fellow board member, Matt Dalton, owner of Dalton Foundries. The rest, as they say, is history. Jean and Matt moved quickly in establishing the Leadership Academy. They envisioned a program that would develop, in Jean’s words, “…young, innovative, enthusiastic leaders with some new ideas.”
The Early Years
The first year of KLA brought many challenges. A curriculum was developed from scratch. Seasoned community leaders were asked to serve on the board. Knowledgeable people were invited to share their areas of expertise. The efforts of Mr. Doug Grant, then President of Lake City Bank, were a great help to Jean and Matt, especially during that first year.
Also instrumental in the Academy’s formation were Professor Joe Rawlings and others from Ball State University. They provided direction, in addition to moderating the meetings for the first three years.
An Immediate Impact
KLA quickly exerted a positive influence in the community. The first class of 25 students graduated in 1982. Armed with enthusiasm and a thorough knowledge of our county, they were ready to assume leadership roles in the community. Since that time, an average of 25 students have graduated each year.
Each year students present White Paper Projects at the final class session. These projects are aimed at making an immediate contribution to the community. Past projects such as Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy, Heart of Gold, The Education Summit, and The Greenway Project, just to mention a few, continue to have a positive impact on our community.
500 Graduates…And Counting
As KLA approaches its 30-year anniversary, with over 500 graduates working “in the field,” the torch of leadership has been passed to the next generation of community leaders.
Dr. Steve Grill, KLA Advisor and former moderator, captured the spirit of KLA when he stated: “Kosciusko County has needs that must be filled and challenges that must be met…the residents of Kosciusko County can look to our graduates for their assistance, their counsel, their expertise, and above all their spirit.”
As Jean has put it; "The dreams of the founding board members have and continue to be fulfilled." People no longer need to ask: “Where are the leaders?” They don’t have to. The future leaders are right here - at KLA.
The Mission of KLA is to develop informed and innovative leaders who will serve our community by skillfully leading it into the future. At KLA we promise to ...
Educate you through practical sessions with recognized leaders examining the issues that face our community.
Enrich you by building a network of peer and community leaders.
Inspire you to see possibilities of our thriving community.
Challenge you to take action, get involved and make a difference in our community.