YORK – Dr. Scott Koch, chairman of the steering committee for the Leadership York Program, has announced that the decision has been made to cancel the 2020-21 session.
The 27-year-old program provides a year-long education about the York community through touring local government facilities, meeting with officials and leaders, observing the inner workings of the city and county, and more. The intent is to encourage positive and active leadership in the community, now and into the future.
The program encourages teamwork and consensus building, identifying leadership styles, working with different leadership styles, group dynamics, project planning, conflict resolution, networking and identifying resources, community trusteeship, etc.
Koch explained that a major component of the Leadership York program is to visit many physical locations in the community – including the college, the NPPD operations center, the prison, the jail, the hospital, the Hearthstone, local banks, etc.
Because most, if not all, the locations are and will be prohibiting non-essential, out-of-organization visitors from being in their facilities, the committee decided to suspend the session.
The sessions have historically run from August to May with a graduation event in June. This past session (2019-20) ended early due to the pandemic and the graduation event was cancelled.
“We just saw no way we could carry through with the 2020-21 session because of the restrictions that are in place and the health safety concerns,” Koch said. “This was a really difficult decision but given the nature of the program and the businesses and the institutions that we visit during the year, it became quite clear that this was the best decision.”
Local businesses sponsor the program this year – and several businesses had already committed to support the program for the 2021 year. Koch said they have communicated with the Chamber office and informed them to not bill those businesses, given the current situation. In the event they had already sent in their money, that will be returned to them. When it is time to restart the program, committee members will be contacting the sponsors in hopes of still having their support.
While the Leadership York program will be put on hold at this time – the program will start up again when it is feasible, safe and allowable, Koch firmly said.
“We will start up Leadership York again,” Koch said, “hopefully, for the 2021-22 session. It just depends on the situation at that time. We just believe that the personal interaction is so important in this program, as is the ability to physically go to these places, to these events, to truly benefit and learn from the program.
“This has been a great program,” Koch said, “and we certainly intend for it to continue in the future.”
He remembered back 27 years to when he was the president of the York Chamber of Commerce and York was one of four communities asked to be part of this leadership program. They wrote the grant, received the start-up money and it has been running ever since.
“We started with a class in which the participation numbered in the single digits and it exploded,” Koch said. “Since then, we’ve been numbering more than 20 participants a year. In this last session, we had 26 I believe.”
Regarding the members of the 2019-20 Leadership York class, Koch said they will have the opportunity to attend the future sessions they missed out on – once the program starts up again.
“We fully intend to again have a strong Leadership York program underway,” Koch said. “But for right now, this is the right thing to do. If someone is interested in being involved in the Leadership York program or know of someone who is interested for the 2021-22 year, please contact me. The committee will continue to meet and make decisions about the program for the 2021-22 year.”