Leadership Monongalia is a great way to meet new people

As children, opportunities to learn and make friends are plentiful. School. Extracurricular activities. Clubs. Recess. 

When you become an adult, those opportunities don’t present themselves nearly as often, and even when they do, sometimes they are mired down with family responsibilities, work schedules and perhaps, to a lesser extent, egos and perceptions. 

But I was recently lucky enough to be part of a program that surprised me in its authenticity, structure and opportunity: Leadership Monongalia. 

Leadership Mon is an eight-month Morgantown Area Partnership program that focuses on cultivating leadership through the lens of people working right here in this community. Leadership sessions consist of one full day each month — usually 8 a.m.-5 p.m. — from September through May, with each day featuring a different topic: Economic development, education, social services, arts and culture, health care, government, quality of life, community and leadership. 

There is also one overnight retreat — my retreat took place at Camp Dawson in Preston County — that is more intensive in exploring leadership styles. 

Started in 1997, Leadership Mon’s four main goals are: Knowledge enrichment, cultivating involvement, developing community leaders and enhancing students’ personal network. 

Applications are being accepted for Leadership Mon until Aug. 1, and it is open to anyone who has a stake in Mon County as either a resident or as a representative of a county business or organization. 

When I first considered applying, it was a little intimidating. I’m not normally what you might call a “joiner,” so when I decided to throw my hat into the ring of applicants, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. 

But after I was accepted and walked into the conference room at Camp Dawson during the retreat, I felt enveloped in a sense of rightness and comfort. My fellow classmates — who were from all walks of life and held all sorts of varied job titles — came into this endeavor as equals, setting aside any preconceived notions of status. 

The ice breaker — which I won’t talk about here because we don’t talk about fight club — only helped to solidify this idea that we were all at the same level and there to support each other. Our goal was to learn from our fellow students and the kind folks we would meet throughout the outstanding program. 

It’s that sense of belonging, at least in part, that makes Leadership Mon so successful. Cultivating teamwork and support for each other helps build thoughtful leaders who put community at the center of their work. 

“Getting involved in your community and staying involved fosters a sense of belonging and helps create a supportive environment for everyone,” said Michelle Hopkins, co-director of Leadership Monongalia. 

“Continuous engagement ensures that positive changes are sustained, and collective efforts can address unmet needs. Together, we’re building stronger, more resilient communities through our ongoing commitment and participation with community leaders.”  

As the director of marketing and communications for the local United Way, the lessons I’ve learned, networking I’ve done, and the friendships I’ve made in Leadership Mon have been well worth it and will be long-lasting. If you feel a calling to serve your community in some way, I encourage you to apply. 

Leadership Mon applications are available now at leadershipmon.org. You can find out more at the website or by emailing [email protected]

Take your time with the application, and make sure to fill it out thoroughly and to the best of your ability. 

You’ll be asked about your community involvement, hobbies and interests, and several questions about your goals if you become part of Leadership Mon and what you would like to accomplish. 

Tuition is $750, but sometimes businesses will sponsor their employees’ tuition as it is a professional growth and development opportunity. 

Deadline is Aug. 1. 

Good luck, future leaders!  

Amanda Posey is the director of marketing and communications for the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties. She can be reached at [email protected]