Emerging Leaders Program accepting applications until Jan. 30
The Emerging Leaders Program in East Lansing, a selective civic engagement program, is preparing to begin its 2019 session.
The eight-week long course gives students the chance to develop a network of local contacts and be comfortable with a leadership position within a community.
Open to community members age 18 and above for no charge, Emerging Leaders graduates have gone on to participate in neighborhood groups, city boards and commissions and even City Council. The course is taught by local business owners and city leaders.
“The reason that we have the Emerging Leaders Program is to allow our residents to better understand local government — what we do, how we work — and to get residents onto our boards and commissions, to get them actively engaged in our government as a long-term resident,” Assistant to the City Manager Eilis Seide said.
The city aims to run the program every other year, due to the expensive nature of the course and the fact that it is funded entirely by the city.
“We are always looking for fresh minds, fresh ideas, to enter into local government, we don’t want stale ideas, we want new, innovative people in our community,” Seide said. “East Lansing is a very vibrant community, and with young families, so we want that in our community and in our government.”
Notable alumni, including Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann, have gone on to work in government and neighborhood associations. Altmann was a graduate of the program in 2013, two years before he was elected to city council in 2015.
“Local government is in some ways especially complicated because everybody expects us to have a lot of power, but in fact we have very limited power because the state tells us what we can and can’t do in a lot of circumstances,” Altmann said. “We also don’t have a lot of money to provide the services that people want. We are very constrained in terms of how much revenue we have, so understanding those parameters is really important when you embark on a sort of legislative program. To bring changes to the community, you have to know what’s possible."
The course allows attendees to understand the ins and outs of government at the city scale while also meeting government officials.
“It’s just really good to get to know the people who run the city because everyone who works at the city is working hard and trying to do their best,” Altmann said.
The city will be accepting applications for the program until Jan. 30, and those accepted to participate will be notified from Feb. 11 to Feb. 15. The program begins Feb. 21 and meets on Thursday nights, with one Saturday class and no class on March 7 or April 4.
“It’s good to know that you’re in good hands, and so that’s why as many people as possible should try to go to this civics class,” Altmann said.