Leadership Central Penn Gets Political

L-R: State Sen. John Gordner; Daniel McGann, Berwick School Board; Ken Holdren, Montour County Commissioner; State Rep. David Millard

So you think you know what LCP stands for. So did the class participants. That might have been true until arriving at Central Susquehanna Community Foundation in Berwick for February’s class when LCP stood for legacy, change and politics.  Punxsutawney Phil was seen this month, and the class welcomed back Tina Welch of Welch Performance Consulting for the Morning Motivation.  The class prepared to meet the panel of political representatives from local council, school board, county commissioner, PA State House of Representatives and PA State Senate. 

Fred Gaffney, Columbia Montour Chamber president, introduced the panel to the class:

Following brief introductions by Gaffney, the class then learned why each of the panelists ran for office, that running for office can be discouraging, rewarding and challenging, and that the public does not know what happens in an election tie until the last ball is drawn. Each person on the panel had personal reasons for entering politics.  It was refreshing to hear, unlike in many times in national media, about what they are trying to do to improve our local communities.

The panel also shared issues they face, mostly from unfunded state and federal mandates. These are mandates related to education, the environment, public domain, industry, and public safety, just to name a few. More and more, there are laws and regulations that force issues down to the local level for implementation and enforcement. Issues like teacher pensions, flood protection, environmental monitoring and water run-off regulations were discussed. 

Later in the morning the panel was joined by two state officials: 

  • John Gordner, PA State Senator
  • David Millard, PA House of Representatives

After introductions, it was time to discuss governmental transparency, budget and election gerrymandering. These topics, of course, were ripped from the headlines. This led to discussions related to constitutional law, and how Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states facing election issues as we prepare for primary season and midterm elections. These issues will cause debate about judicial versus legislative powers that will most likely reach the Supreme Court.

The one thing missing from the morning was partisan politics. It was refreshing to hear a group of elected officials discuss topics in a succinct way using facts and common sense, with the end goal being what is best for their constituents and people of Pennsylvania. Oftentimes, we get lost in partisan pandering and the daily media news cycle, and it is nice to see behind the local and state curtains, and realize these are good people doing the best they can.     

After another wonderful lunch prepared by Lucy’s Kitchen & Catering, it was time to introduce Christine Pangelinan, program officer at the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation. She was able to educate the class on the advantages of community foundations, and their impact on our area. There was a fun game involving teamwork to identify key terms used by foundations, and a scavenger hunt to learn about the CSCF.  Christine then asked if anyone won $1 million and had to set up a community fund through a community foundation, what would they do? There was great enthusiasm as the class then created their own community funds. These funds needed to be named, focused and a type was chosen (e.g. donor advised fund, agency endowment fund, scholarship fund, designated fund, pass through fund). The class really impressed Christine with their creative and thoughtful approaches, organization and naming of these funds.

Leo Gilroy, director of strategy & innovation at NEPIRC, leads the class through a presentation on change management.

As the afternoon wore on, it was time for a change, literally and figuratively. The class was introduced to Leo Gilroy, director of strategy & innovation with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC). The class had individual opportunities to introduce themselves and discuss issues they have seen related to change at their organizations.  One thing everyone learned is that change is necessary, but not always easy.  However, the hardest changes can be the most beneficial, and communication is the main key to success in all organizations.

Leo then walked through a presentation highlighting the “5 Dimensions of Leading Change, Flexibility, Change and Teamwork,” “The Heart of Change (8 steps)” and “The Power of Habit.” In the end, human beings are biased toward the status quo, and all have heard the saying, “well, that is the way we’ve always done it.” People change radically only when they overcome instincts to stay in the comfort zone. Creating a culture of change is hard, but the payoff will be a flexible and agile organization ready to take on planned and unforeseen changes as they arrive.

Leadership Central Penn is sponsored by Bloomsburg UniversityKawneerSEKISUI SPI and USG