By: Sonya Mallard
Brevard County Government hit a milestone that marked one of their biggest achievements of the last 30 years. The Executive Leadership Institute is an 18-month leadership training program that was started in 2006 when retired Jennifer Myers was the County’s Director to augment Brevard County government’s employee development program. It is with great pleasure to mention that Brevard County Employee Executive Leadership class is competitive and most sought after. The County is helping build leaders in our community by offering this program, and in March 2019 students representing the County, area municipalities and charter offices took part in the County’s newest Executive Leadership Institute program, ELI XIV. It was one of our largest classes. This 18-month leadership training program started for Class ELI XIV with a weekend getaway team building exercise in Winter Park, Florida with Instructor, Mrs. Juanita Jackson, Employee Relations Manager for Brevard County Human Resources. As 30 total strangers met in Viera at the Government building awaiting two buses to take them to their team building exercise for the weekend… the trust, rope climbing, and training began.
The Institute was intense and the learning was self-fulfilling. It was inspired by Stephen Covey’s three-day signature program, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and Dr. Mimi’s program was outstanding. Ms. Juanita Jackson ensured that the students were aligned and held accountable for reading leadership books for their personal development, and applying what they learned immediately. Jackson ensured that the students walked away with the knowledge of the principles of personal leaders, the essence of synergy, win-win solutions, empathic listening, time management, and how to apply the 7 Habits in everyday life. This course is designed for Project Leaders, Directors, CEO’s, Provosts, Business Managers, etc. who wish to further their personal and interpersonal development in a way that produces long-term success. Fast forward 15 months, and we entered into the Covid19 pandemic. That didn’t stop the program, it only made Mrs. Juanita Jackson pivot and readjust. She was instrumental in ensuring the last group completed their presentations via zoom, and more importantly she ensured that the class graduation took place with us together in a safe environment and social distancing. It was awesome after being separated for about three months to see everyone come in with their masks on and a pep in their step. An awesome feeling to complete an awesome 15-month Leadership program that is truly competitive.
The keynote speaker, Lisa Cullen Brevard County Tax Collector who left some life changing nuggets for the graduates was inspirational. She is the first woman to ever hold this title in Brevard County. As the graduation was coming to an end, four graduates, John, Rebecca, Sonya, and Michael reflected on their experiences with the program and here is a quick recap from Mr. Michael Cadore, Sr. Cadore stated that this 15-month training program strengthen his leadership skills as he looks forward to applying them daily professionally and personally. Cadore also stated that it was truly an honor for him and Dr. Sharon Cronk-Raby to represent Eastern Florida State College as the first graduates of the prestigious Brevard County Executive Leadership Institute. Cadore is grateful to his amazing mentor, Dr. Joe Lee Smith and his lovely wife for their continuous love and dedication to his growth. Mallard stated that she applied to this awesome program twice. Once in 2017 and was denied, and then again in 2018 and was denied again. She refused to allow a “no” to stop her determination to learn more and to grow as a leader, so she applied for a third time. Mallard states to never allow a door to stay closed if there is something behind it that you truly want. For her it was knowledge, networking, and growth. Sometimes we have to continue to knock until the door opens. This awesome experience for Mallard under the mentoring of Mrs. Mary Ellen Donner, Director of Parks and Recreation and the teachings of Juanita Jackson and Dr. Mimi gave Mallard the fortitude and knowledge she needed to continue her growth as a leader. After the graduates received their framed certificates, Michael Cadore, Sr. on behalf of the 2020 ELI XIV class donated along with President Carl Putman of Train to Win, $500 to Brevard Public Schools. Recipient representative
Dr. Karyle Green, Director of Labor Relations of BPS accepted the donation. Way to go ELI XIV. To date, we’ve had over 330-plus graduates from ELI.