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Palm Coast Tuesday, Sep. 22, 2015 5 years ago

Candidates in training? Flagler Public Leadership Institute announces first graduating class

State Senator Travis Hutson and Rep. Paul Renner met with the grads to congratulate them on completing the course.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Let the speculation begin! The Flagler Chamber sent out a press release this morning to announce its first graduating class of the Flagler Public Leadership Institute. So far, the names of those who have participated has been kept a secret, but the implication is that these are citizens of our county who are seriously considering running for office.

The names are in the sidebar to the right. And below is the press release sent by the chamber:


On Friday, September 18, staff and volunteers of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce met with Senator Travis Hutson and Representative Paul Renner to congratulate participants of the 2015 Flagler Public Leadership Institute (FPLI). The following aspiring public leaders completed the two-day non-partisan program designed to help them determine whether and how to run for elected office:

Drawing on the expertise of elected officials and industry experts, the Chamber hosted the prospective candidate training session in conjunction with Reclaim Public Leadership, a national consulting company. Organizers plan to host FPLI once a year during non-election years to a class of participants who have not yet declared or filed. The next Flagler Public Leadership Institute will be offered in 2017. 

The two-day training was held September 17 and 18 at the Chamber, with a kick-off reception Wednesday, September 16 sponsored by local businesses — S.E. Cline Construction, Craig Flagler Palms Funeral Home, Memorial Gardens and Crematory, The Holley Group and Preferred Management Services. Hammock Beach Resort served as FPLI’s accommodations partner, and Dominos Pizza of Palm Coast donated food as a lunch sponsor. 

The program curriculum concentrated on the “nuts and bolts” of becoming a candidate, including filing, choosing a campaign team, conducting pre-campaign assessments, developing a campaign plan, targeting, communicating with the media and fundraising. In addition to segments led by the program’s creator and facilitator, Mark Mills, the class heard presentations from Marian Johnson, SVP of Political Strategy at the Florida Chamber and Flagler County’s Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart. Senator Hutson, Representative Renner and Flagler County School Board member Trevor Tucker also participated in the training, sharing personal campaign experiences and answering questions during working lunches. 

According to Lea Stokes, vice chair of the Chamber’s 501c3 foundation that operates FPLI, the inaugural program was highly successful based on initial participant feedback. 

“Time will tell whether members of the 2015 class decide to run for office, and we’re hopeful they’ve gained some insight to help them make the decision,” said Stokes. “Thanks to generous support from Disney, Publix and TECO Energy, we were able to take a first step in identifying and encouraging a new generation of public leaders. We are fortunate to bring this important program to Flagler County, and to assist with ‘building a bench’ of willing and qualified individuals who may lead our community in the future.”

For more information about the Flagler Public Leadership Institute, contact Gretchen Smith at 386-206-0953.

Note: The photo with this story includes chamber employees, FPLI graduates and elected officials. The caption is as follows: 

1st row left to right

Donald O’Brien, Kimble Medley, Myra Middleton-Valentine, Greg Feldman, Senator Travis Hutson, Pam Richardson, Rep. Paul Renner, Dave Ferguson

2nd Row left to right

Marc Bellapianta, Lea Stokes, David Alfin, Howard Holley, Carrie Chambers, Gretchen Smith, Rick Belhumeur, Rebecca DeLorenzo

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