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Jefferson Leadership Institute seeks members for 2013-14

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The next generation of leaders already is in the north country, according to the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce.

That has been the philosophy guiding the chamber’s Jefferson Leadership Institute, a program that immerses participants in community issues. Adults of any age or career may apply.

“JLI participants end up being from a broad spectrum of agencies and industries,” said Michelle A. Farrell, director of chamber events. “Those are the people we try to attract who want to effect positive change in the Watertown area. For anyone who’s looking to know the community and get involved in the community as a leader, it’s a great networking opportunity.”

Up to 24 participants will experience the program from September through June, and get a glimpse of nonprofits, history, government, Fort Drum, economic development and health care, among other topics, through 12 full-day sessions. The $985 tuition must be paid in full by the participant, his or her employer or a financial sponsor, upon the person’s acceptance into the program.

Mrs. Farrell said the only strict requirement of JLI is that applicants be truly interested in volunteering.

Erika F. Flint, executive director of the Watertown Urban Mission, said that is exactly why she signed up for the program in 2009-10.

“That was sort of the beginning point for my board involvement and volunteering as a whole,” Ms. Flint said. “I think it’s a fabulous opportunity to realize how interconnected this community is.”

She worked for the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization when she went through the program. Since her JLI graduation in 2010, Ms. Flint has been on the boards of WPBS, North Country Children’s Clinic, Jefferson County Community Services, Samaritan Medical Center Auxiliary and the Watertown Local Development Corp., a position she still holds.

“My heart belongs to nonprofits,” she said.

Since JLI’s establishment in 1991, more than 440 people have graduated.

Mrs. Farrell said the chamber expects to have a full class this year. For more information, call the chamber at 788-4400.

The application deadline is Monday. Each applicant will be notified of the status of his or her application by Aug. 31.

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