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ON THE STREET | STORIES | CURRENT EVENTS | HIGHLIGHTS

LFI Brings Positive Change in Fairfax County S BY JESSICA BIGGER  PHOTOS PROVIDED LEADERSHIP FAIRFAX INSTITUTE

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PHOTO BY VITA IMAGES

ince its inception in 1987, Leadership Fairfax (LFI) has over 1600 alumni who utilize their skills to promote positive change in our community. Seasoned, emerging, and retired leaders come together to solve challenges that cover a wide range of community issues. After graduating from the program, every alum continues “to do great things, engage the community, and make it stronger,” commented Karen Cleveland, President and CEO of Leadership Fairfax Institute. Leadership Fairfax Institute offers three programs: the LFI Signature Program, Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI), and the Lifetime Leadership Program (LLP), which is new this year. All three programs cater to leaders in a different stage in their career development within Northern Virginia. The goal of the program is to bring people together from all three sectors: business, nonprofit, and government, to focus and offer solutions to many challenges in the community. Some students develop improvements to help local organizations run more efficiently. The LFI Signature Program is tailored for the established leader, a business owner or someone who has significant influence in the company or organization he or she works for. This individual has also been involved in a significant amount of community service. Only 40 to 50 spaces are available each year. The program lasts for ten months, where each student meets once a month for an all-day session.

LFI participants take a deeper dive into community service, unlike their other leader counterparts (ELI and LLP). These leaders dive into the most pertinent issues within Fairfax County. “Class participants engage in an intensive study of five topics representing important and diverse local issues that affect the quality of life in Fairfax County and the region,” explains Cleveland. The LFI class is divided into five teams. Each team studies one of the five topics presented for that year. They study and research the issue, find solutions, and present to the rest of the class. The issue could be in healthcare, the lower income community, traffic, etc. They are given four months to work on this project, where they are expected to do research on the problem, bring in speakers, tour facilities, etc. Cate Fulkerson, Reston Association (RA) CEO, graduated

RESTON | LIVE, WORK, PLAY AND GET INVOLVED™

from the LFI Signature Program in 2001. She served on the LFI Board of Directors from 2001 to 2011 and was board chairman in 2009. During her tenure at LFI, she served on the committee that created the ELI programs for emerging leaders. Fulkerson joined the LFI Board to assist the organization in helping their existing alums, as well as new participants make a significant impact in the community. “I saw an opportunity to help further the Leadership Fairfax Institute and saw a great opportunity to make a difference in the program that helps make a difference in Fairfax County,” said Fulkerson. The ELI program is geared towards new leaders who are earlier in their career and have given less community service. Projects students may be involved in might include: volunteer training programs, developing materials, or developing websites for a variety of nonprofit

organizations. This year, one of the ELI teams developed a curriculum for a high school leadership program over the summer. In 2008, Ha Brock, RA Volunteer Supervisor, participated in the ELI course. Not only did she want to make a difference in the community, Brock wanted to improve her project management skills. Brock’s team worked with Cornerstones (previously Reston Interfaith), an organization that provides housing and services to a diverse, lower income community. Her team organized and hosted several workshops – personal finance (how to balance your checkbook), how to take on more leadership roles, etc. Prior to hosting the workshops, Brock and her team had to reach out to several individuals who could speak to the Cornerstone’s community about a particular topic. “Each team member had a role. One

Profile for Reston Association

Reston January 2016  

Reston Association Publication

Reston January 2016  

Reston Association Publication

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