Twenty-two municipal employees celebrated their graduation from the Goodman School of Business’s NextGen Municipal Leadership Program in front of local mayors, fellow municipal employees and representatives from the Goodman School of Business.
The graduates, representing 11 Niagara municipalities and the Niagara Region, from Grimsby to Fort Erie, were part of the second cohort that completed the 10-week leadership program. In addition to attending weekly seminars and lectures, the participants were paired with senior municipal employees who served as mentors during the program.
Gary Janssen, manager of operations planning for the City of St. Catharines, was one of the 22 graduates receiving his certificate at the May 29 event. He has been with the City of St. Catharines for 17 years and was joined at the event by his mentor Chantal Switzer, a St. Catharines human resources consultant.
After receiving encouragement from his supervisor, Janssen decided to join the program to develop his leadership skills.
“For me, personally [it was] an opportunity to expand my skill set and move forward [at the City] in the future,” explained Janssen. “It was a very timely opportunity as this will help me manage the team as they adapt to changes.”
The program, which launched in 2013, was developed in collaboration with an advisory committee of local municipal staff that included Thorold chief administrative officer Frank Fabiano.
At the graduation, Fabiano made a special point of reminding the senior municipal leaders present - including St. Catharines Mayor Bryan McMillian, Welland Mayor Barry Sharpe, Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn, Welland city manager Craig Stirtzinger, and Port Colborne CAO Robert Heil - of the importance of the program.
“Education is very important. Without educated employees going through that continuous learning program, the employers won’t progress and the municipalities won’t grow,” Fabiano said. “It’s important that your employees are ready to apply what they learned to their municipalities.”
Foster Zanutto, manager of the Goodman School’s Centre for Innovation, Management and Enterprise Education (CIMEE), echoed Fabiano’s thoughts.
“We appreciate that municipalities are investing in their people,” said Zanutto, who coordinates the NextGen program. “They are investing in their workers to become better employees of the municipalites.”
The next session of the NextGen Leadership Program starts in September. Municipal employees interested in the program should contact their Human Resources department.