Building a Better Tomorrow Leadership SLO Legacy Projects
I knew in my heart that this was going to be one of the most important things we did. - Dave Garth former SLO Chamber of Commerce president/CEO
SLO LIFE Magazine aug/sep 2013
Like most things of enduring value, Leadership SLO did not simply materialize out of thin air. There were a lot of fits and starts and bumps in the road during its formation in the late 1980’s. But, as Dave Garth, former SLO Chamber of Commerce president/CEO, recalls, “I knew in my heart that this was going to be one of the most important things we did.” The importance that Garth identified prior to its inception was the ongoing, legacy aspect of the program, which culminates in a handson community project chosen by the class graduates. According to Sandi Sigurdson, the executive director of the Leadership program, the purpose of the Legacy Project, as it has come to be known, is to achieve three objectives: Give class members a real world opportunity to use their new leadership skills and strengthen their bond with other class members; leave a long-lasting, positive benefit to the community; and, increase long-term viability of the program. The Leadership program begins each year as a new class of 36 people, who are carefully selected by a panel of alumni to represent a broad cross-section of the county, convene at the Wonder Valley retreat for three days of intensive training and bonding exercises. The
class then reassembles on a monthly basis for day-long programming onsite at various county locations. Each one of those days carries a theme designed to expose the class to one particular aspect of the community. For example, this year, Class XXII was hosted by the Performing Arts Center on Cal Poly’s campus for its “Arts & Culture Day” and “Media Day” was held at KSBY-TV’s studios. Throughout the year, wineries, small manufacturers, and halls of government each take their turn in the spotlight with their corresponding day. Those visits are led by locals at the top of those particular fields. Students are told early on that they will be asked to come up with their own Legacy Project, a process Garth describes as “perhaps the most difficult part of the program—getting agreement on what to do.” Over the years, Leadership Legacy Projects have touched the community in many different ways, usually reflecting the unique character of each class. The first Legacy Project was officially completed by Class IV, as the first three classes were consumed with fundraising and recruitment to ensure that the Leadership SLO program would survive through its infancy. Turn the page to find out what other classes have done. >>
Legacy Projects Through the Years
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Leadership Class XXIII is now accepting applications for its 2014 program. To apply or learn more, visit
Class IV - provided thousands of hours of community service around the county and created database of other potential projects.
Class V - built the first wall at Wonder Valley, which has become an important metaphor during the retreat as students are tasked with getting everyone over the 15-foot monstrosity—with no ropes or equipment!
Class VI - created an endowment that funded the Leadership Scholarship program over the subsequent five years.
Class VII - printed Leadership SLO t-shirts and sold them as a fundraiser for the program.
Class VIII - produced a video about the program for the purpose of soliciting corporate sponsors.
Class IX - coordinated the first Leadership Alumni Mixer and the first alumni award.
Class X - refurbished a rundown Victorian home in San Luis Obispo that was used to house those rehabilitating from drug abuse programs.
Class XI - established the Leadership SLO Endowment Fund and held several fundraisers to seed the account.
Class XII - reconstructed the obstacle wall originally built by Class V in Wonder Valley.
Class XIII - collected and donated books to several organizations, including the Prado Day Center; they also published a children’s coloring book whose sales were donated to the library for new book purchases.
Class XIV - planted trees at the Damon Garcia Sports Complex; helped with the construction of Santa’s House in Mission Plaza; and coordinated a leadership day for high school students at Hearst Castle.
Class XV - restored the Healing Garden at Transitions Mental Health’s Growing Grounds off of Johnson Avenue, and built a gazebo and three benches there, as well.
Class XVI - revamped the landscaping and cleaned-up the entrance to the Tiny Tigers preschool at San Luis Obispo High School.
Class XVII - worked on the Johnson Ranch trail by taking part in its construction as well as developing the interpretive signage.
Class XVIII - collaborated with San Luis Obispo’s three Rotary Clubs to establish and enhance community gardens.
Class XIX - created an outdoor classroom environment for the toddlers at the Child Development Center, a child abuse intervention, prevention, and treatment program for families.
Class XX - built a human sundial at the SLO Botanical Gardens, visitors to the sundial can tell the time by where the shadow is cast.
Class XXI - is creating a new display for San Luis Obispo County in the “Hall of Counties” at the State Capitol building in Sacramento.
Class XXII - although the plan has not been finalized, they are proposing to clean-up, landscape, and finish the City’s master plan at Sinsheimer Park.
SLO LIFE Magazine aug/sep 2013