In 1984, a group of existing leaders recognized Gwinnett County was undergoing a significant transformation, transitioning from a rural, agricultural community to a more densely populated, diverse and urban community. Supported by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, this group crafted and developed a curriculum, enlisted volunteers, engaged facilitators and selected its first class – the Class of 1986. Over the next two decades, Leadership Gwinnett graduated hundreds of citizens from every sector of the community including education, not-for-profit, county and municipal governments, professional services and business and became the signature leadership program for Gwinnett County.
In response to the changing needs of Gwinnett County in 2007, the Leadership Gwinnett Board of Trustees appointed a Task Force to evaluate the program’s future relevance and effectiveness. Building upon the foundation that had become the hallmark of Leadership Gwinnett, the organization updated its mission statement, adopted a new logo and tag line and implemented a series of program enhancements. Improving the program experience to ensure graduates were better educated, equipped and engaged meant they were better prepared to address the community’s most pressing challenges. Additionally, Leadership Gwinnett Foundation, Inc. filed for and received confirmation of tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
An important initiative spurred a new phase of organizational growth in 2010. In partnership with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, a formal study was commissioned through the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). Charged with benchmarking against the most respected leadership programs in the nation, the CCL report acknowledged Leadership Gwinnett’s extraordinary contributions for nearly 25 years. Final report recommendations included a focus on program recruitment and selection, alumni impact and involvement, attraction of quality candidates reflective of the community and formalizing operations as an independent entity. Leadership Gwinnett responded by hiring its first full-time director in 2011 and executed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce in 2012.
The new operating model transitioned daily operations and management responsibilities to the full time Executive Director, governance responsibilities to the Leadership Gwinnett Foundation Board of Directors and advisory responsibilities remained with the Board of Trustees.
In 2013, Leadership Gwinnett launched its first capital campaign. Eighty-one investors pledged $975,000 over a five-year period in support of three primary goals: (1) establish a 2.5 day “snapshot” program, (2) create an intentional and inclusive recruitment process, and (3) enhance Leadership Gwinnett alumni engagement. Significant progress has been made against each of these campaign goals, and all are contributing to the development of additional leadership capacity reflective of Gwinnett County’s diverse population.
Building on these sequential successes, the Board of Directors has approved a 5-year strategic plan. Implementation of the following goals and strategic priorities will help ensure the organization’s ability to fulfill its vision and mission and serve the needs of Gwinnett County into the future.