The Community Leadership Association is a resource that economic developers should know about.
What is CLA?
The Community Leadership Association (CLA) is a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization dedicated to nurturing leadership in communities throughout the United States and internationally. Founded in 1979, The Community Leadership Association's members include hundreds of diverse community leadership organizations at local, state and national levels, thousands of individual graduates of these organizations and others interested in community leadership development. The Community Leadership Association encourages sharing and mutual learning by its members and embraces the diversity of community leadership development efforts.
Many progressive communities have formed broad-based leadership organizations to seek out and educate leaders from throughout the community. These leadership development efforts differ in sponsorship and format, but their goals are the same -- to create an active network of informed, concerned citizens to guide the future and growth of their community into the 21st century. Working and learning together, participants enhance their leadership skills, capacities and attitudes while they broaden their understanding of community issues.
Programs encourage people to be trustees of their communities--to work for the common good-- and to become a leadership resource for the entire community, able to understand and facilitate collaboration, consensus building and creative problem solving in addressing community needs. Most programs have graduate associations or activities through which program graduates expand their leadership networks, continue their learning and further their contributions to the building of healthier, more effective communities.
What is a Community?
Traditionally, the word community has referred to an interdependent group of people who live in close proximity to one another and rely on each other to provide essential goods and services. This is how villages were formed and, with them, our original ideal of community leadership.
However, just as that ideal has changed over time, so has the definition of community. No longer exclusively bearing a geographic connotation, today the word refers to any group that shares common interests, goals, or affiliations. As always, interaction between community members is crucial but, thanks to evolving communication technologies, it no longer requires geographic proximity. Virtual communities, comprised of disperate individuals sharing common interests, are examples of this broader definition.
People belong to many communities, including the neighborhoods where they live, the companies where they work, the organizations to which they belong, and committees on which they serve. All of these communities depend on the trusteeship of their members for effective leadership. An important step toward effective leadership is recognizing all of the communities to which one belongs.
Learn more here.