Participants learn strategies and practices that enhance their effectiveness, efficiency, and customer service provided to residents while strengthening partnerships across agencies.
The Flagler County Leadership Academy – now in its third session – has further extended its professional career development offerings to include additional staff of its constitutional officers and municipalities. County Administrator Heidi Petito, an alumnus of the inaugural class, at the opening class welcomed new students including top-tier staff from the cities of Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, and Bunnell.
The 18 participants in the program include staff members from Flagler County Government, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Flagler Schools, Tax Collector’s Office, and the Supervisor of Elections’ Office in addition to the cities. The benefit that participants learn strategies and practices that enhance their effectiveness, efficiency, and customer service provided to residents while strengthening partnerships across agencies.
The academy’s 2021 valedictorian, Emergency Management Planner Nealon Joseph, during the graduation ceremony said, “To be successful, we must foster teamwork by building strong relationships within our team … To be a leader, means to sacrifice. It means putting the needs of others, your organization and your community over your personal wants and needs.”
The rigorous curriculum was designed to develop the potential of staff, to further professionalize the agencies, and to establish succession planning. The course of study utilizes an intimate class size to promote a high level of student engagement. More than 40 hours of external training include opportunities to participate in executive level planning and issue resolution.
Former county administrator Jerry Cameron and Dr. Joe Saviak – an independent consultant who has taught leadership to business executives and government officials throughout the region – facilitate the program. The materials and methodology of the Academy are in line with graduate level-coursework, and the program is structured like those undertaken by Fortune 500 companies.
Students are required to read several well-known books on leadership, and complete a series of challenging assignments involving real world problem-solving. The class also features opportunities for students to hear leadership lessons directly from CEOs brought in as guest speakers.
Cameron teaches the “soul of leadership” – the ethical aspects of the coursework. “You can’t have the values of a leader without having character. You can’t have leadership unless you have those fundamental values,” he said.
Saviak teaches staff the skills necessary to perform at a higher level within their current positions, and in preparation for their next professional challenges.
“The local governments of Flagler County are ahead of many other local governments in Florida by ensuring their citizens will be served by the best leaders for both today and tomorrow,” Saviak said. “The alumni lead statewide professional associations, and provide model practices utilized here and by other local governments across Florida.”
The Flagler County Leadership Academy was honored in May with a National Association of Counties 2021 Achievement Award in the category of County Administration and Management.
“You cannot grow people unless you empower them,” Cameron said. “You have to put them in a situation where they are responsible for the outcomes in their areas. It’s all about teamwork, because we are much better when we work together.”
The current Leadership Academy includes the following participants: Adam Mengel, Growth Management Director, BOCC; Amelia Fulmer, Director of The Flagler Auditorium; Ashley Godby, Tax Collectors Office; Bernard Woodward, Commander, FCSO; Chris Nakabaale, Operations Administrator, SOE; Chynequa King, Health and Human Services Assistant Director, BOCC; George Bender, Commander, FCSO; Joe Barile, Commander, FCSO; Joe Saloom, Assistant Library Director, BOCC; Krystal Nelson, Tax Collectors Office; Lakesha Byrd, Financial Services Coordinator, City of Bunnell; Lenny Ensalaco, Chief Training Officer, BOCC; Matt Golden, IT Manager, BOCC; Melanie Thomas, County Extension Director; Michael Tucker, Fire Chief, BOCC; Stephen Cox, Captain, City of Flagler Beach; Tim Wilsey, Human Resources Manager, City of Palm Coast; and, Timothy Udell, Tax Collectors Office.