Virginia’s community leaders and elected officials are encouraged to attend the 2011 Innovative Leadership Conference: Partnerships & Collaborations, hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension on Thursday, May 26, in Lynchburg, Va. The conference will be held on the campus of Central Virginia Community College in Merritt Hall from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“Community leaders want effective leadership strategies to manage difficult issues and guide their communities through challenging conditions, and citizens want to be included in the decision-making process and understand how actions will impact their neighborhoods,” said Martha Walker, Virginia Cooperative Extension community viability specialist. “This conference will examine the best practices of leadership in developing strong partnerships and progressive coalitions.”

The conference is designed to expand participants’ understanding of the process of leading in challenging environments and to provide guidance in implementing an effective model for garnering support, discovering options for difficult issues, and assessing the feasibility of potential solutions. 

Conference participants will be engaged in interactive sessions led by Russ Linden and Suzanne Morse. Linden, an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia  and author of Working Across Boundaries and Leading Across Boundaries, will deliver a three-hour training on collaborative leadership during the morning session. During the afternoon session, Morse will challenge attendees to think globally and utilize local assets to grow smart communities. Morse is the president of Civic Change Inc., and author of Smart Communities: How Citizens and Local Leaders Can Use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future.

In addition, Jim Campbell, executive director of the Virginia Association of Counties, will summarize the role leadership plays in building the partnership between citizens and local government.

The deadline for conference registration is Friday, May 13, and space is limited. For more information or to register for the conference, contact Martha Walker or Linda Jones at (434) 766-6761. Checks for the $50 registration fee should be made payable to VCE-Central District and mailed to Virginia Cooperative Extension, 150 Slayton Ave., Danville, VA 24540. Each participant will receive a copy of Linden’s latest book, Leading Across Boundaries.

For more information on Extension leadership programs, contact Martha Walker at (434) 766-6761.