Leadership Institute

The Program:

Beginning in 2004, the Union County Leadership Institute has offered countless professionals an experience of hands on education and networking.

The program has five main objectives:

•  Exposure to key issues affecting residents and businesses in Union County
•  Exposure to influential leaders in business and government in Union County
•  Networking and building relationships with 25 professionals throughout the ten month class
•  Hands on education and experiences through planning a class session and completing a quality of life research project
•  Increase knowledge of leadership traits and identifying personal leadership styles

Leadership Students should have high standards of personal quality and integrity, respect, responsibility, reliability and a sincere interest in community issues.

Throughout the ten month program, Leadership Students are empowered to be an integral part of the class day planning process and, therefore, enabled to be visionary and active leaders in the community as they explore critical issues with knowledgeable speakers, effective facilitators and a variety of experimental activities.  Leadership Students are also required to complete a community-directed research project aimed at affecting the quality of life in Union County.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. – Lao Tzu

Selection and Course Schedule:

The Union County Leadership Institute solicits applications from all Chamber members and their associates.  Nominations are received and Leadership Students are selected on their own merits through the application process conducted by the Leadership Institute Selection Committee.  The class meets on the first Thursday of each month, beginning in September, to discuss critical issues and topics as well as leadership skill building through the program’s completion in May.  Leadership Students are empowered to be an integral part of the class day planning process and, therefore, enabled to be visionary and active leaders in the community as they explore critical issues with knowledgeable speakers, effective facilitators and a variety of experimental activities.  Leadership Students are also required to complete a community-directed research project aimed at affecting the quality of life in Union County.  The yearly schedule is as follows:

August – Orientation Meeting

September – Team Building and Class Projects

October – Leadership & Class Research

November – Economic Development

December – Education

January – Health

February – Safety & Justice

March – Governmental Infrastructure

April – Fire Fighter 101

May – Presentation of Projects/Survivor’s Challenge & Banquet (At the Banquet, graduates will be inducted into the Leadership Institute Alumni Network


The Leadership Institute Selection Committee looks for several qualities in potential students.  In order to be selected, applicants must: Possess high standards of personal quality and integrity – Demonstrate a sincere interest in community issues and a willingness to serve the community – Show a record of achievement or interest in community activities which indicate his/her leadership ability – Live or work in Union County and intend to remain so in the foreseeable future.

A diligent effort will be made to select class members who represent a cross section of Chamber businesses; it is this business, geographic and demographic diversity among class members that generates much of the meaningful personal interaction and personal learning in the leadership program.

Curriculum Objectives:

To Inform – Class sessions will have specific goals and objectives for the information given and should provide broad exposure to issues, organizations, key players, local concerns, and local agendas relating to the day’s topic.  Timeframe – Although flexible to some extent, the technical information portion of the day should be focused.

To Involve – Wherever possible, opportunities for interaction and involvement should be incorporated into each day with experimental activities.  This allows the class participants to learn more effectively, respond to what is presented, apply the capacity to the learning experience, and begin to develop their own perspectives on the topic.

To Challenge – The message of leadership opportunities should be incorporated into each day so that class members can understand where and how they might seek out leadership roles in the areas of greatest interest to them.

To Convey the Expectation of Action – The class should clearly understand, as the year progresses, which the Leadership Institute’s expectation of them is that they will individually seek out opportunities to become actively involved – that they will do something with the information being provided to them.  Each session shall incorporate some reinforcement of this message.  To open the minds of each participant to the perspectives that surround each issue and, through experimental learning activities relating to the topic and the capacity for the day and through thoughtful consideration of these perspectives, enable participants to become more active leaders in the community.


Robert (Bob) L. Whitman is the Director of the Leadership Institute.

Bob was born, reared and educated in LaRue, Ohio.  Bob is the past Director of Chamber Programs and Membership of the Union County Chamber of Commerce in Marysville, Ohio.

A retired school superintendent of 24 years, Bob received his B.S. and M.A. degrees from the Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University.

Throughout his career, he has been actively involved in research and writing.  Books he has written include Planning, Promoting and Passing School Tax Issues, A Resource Manual for School Levy Campaign Leaders and Jim Thorpe and the Oorang Indians: The NFL’s Most Colorful Franchise.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Dr. Margaret Mead

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to live in Union County to participate?

A: One of the goals of the Leadership Institute is to raise leaders who will invest back into our community; therefore, all Leadership Students must live OR work in Union County and intend to remain so in the foreseeable future.
Q: Who should participate in the Leadership Institute?

A: Our desire is to build capacities of 21st century leaders.  Leadership Students will greatly expand their knowledge and understanding of Union County and will learn how to utilize their leadership skills by getting involved in the community. Students will participate, and organize, classes where you will learn more about your own leadership skills, as well as meet influential community leaders, learn about the government and school systems and greatly expand your personal and professional network.

Q: What if I have scheduling conflicts during some of the sessions?  Should I still apply?

A: Absolutely!  While attendance and participation is critically important, we also understand Leadership Students have commitments that may take priority throughout the 10 month program.  Scheduling conflicts should be addressed with the Leadership Institute Selection Committee during the application process.

Q: What does the program cost?

A: The total cost of the Leadership Institute is $750.  Checks are to be made payable to the Union County Chamber of Commerce, attn.: Leadership Institute and should be mailed to 227 E. 5th St., Marysville OH 43040.  Full payment must be received by orientation in August.

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. – Warren Bennis

Leadership Institute Alumni

  • “Excellent team building experience, builds social interaction (friends) with other like-minded individuals, it helps build a networking platform and provides introduction to community leaders.  You will be asked to take on leadership roles in the community and most importantly, it builds confidence, confidence, and confidence!”  – Andy Smarra, Allstate Insurance


  • “I would definitely recommend participation in Union County’s Leadership Institute!  The highlight of the Institute is the networking and meeting other leaders in Union County.  I’ve made contacts that I regularly call upon and having that support is invaluable.” – Alex Jones, Director of Nursing, Union County Health Department


  • “I would highly recommend individuals participate in the Union County Leadership Institute if they are truly interested in engaging in the county.  Participants learn about the inner workings of government as well as discover what Union County is all about.” – Christy Clark, Executive Director, Destination Hilliard


  • “My experience with the Leadership Institute was a positive one and I would recommend attending.  You get to learn more about our community and get acquainted with others in leadership roles from other businesses/organizations in Union County.” – Mary Sampsel, Union Assistant Engineer


  • “I would encourage anyone to participate in the Leadership Institute Class, it is a great experience.  It’s an opportunity to network with others in the community, a chance to hear various presenters talk about their business they work for, what they do and how their business benefits our community both locally and beyond.  As with anything, there is going to be both positives and negatives, we just hope that the positive outweighs the negative.” – Dan Bosch, Union Rural Electric


  • “I would definitely recommend the Leadership Institute.  I got to know a lot of great people and learned about the inner workings of the city and county on a variety of topics.  I would definitely recommend it.  I also was the first class to go through the fire training and that was a blast!” – Deb Stubbs, Memorial Hospital 

Leadership Institute Resource Center

Project Proposal

As a capstone to the Union County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute, students are required to complete a research project outside of their class time that has a positive impact on Union County.  If you have a specific project or need that the Leadership Institute could help with, please apply below!  Click on the link to find more information!

Project Proposal Application

Marysville Entrepreneurial Center Information – Duane Hammer, MEC

Small businesses are the fastest growing segment in American commerce and they create 98 percent of all new jobs. However, over 50 percent of all small businesses fail in the first year, often because entrepreneurs fail to consider start-up costs and fixed expenses of operation. To support entrepreneurship in Union County and foster “grassroots” economic development, the Marysville Entrepreneurial Center (MEC) was created in 2008 in partnership with the Union County Commissioners, Union County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), Ohio Small Business Development Center, and TechColumbus.

The MEC, which is located at 129 North Main Street in Marysville, is Union County’s center for innovation and entrepreneurial development. The MEC is available to anyone needing help with developing their business concept; business plans, marketing techniques and business strategies. The MEC also provides office space and flexible workspace and is the location of a number of educational seminars, programs, Jellies, and other networking events.

For more information on the MEC, visit http://www.themec.org/ or call (937) 594-2129

Business Assistance Information – Jay Stanford, Chamber

The strength of the American economy is directly linked to the overall success of the nation’s small businesses. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, small businesses, which are firms with less than 100 employees, represent more than 99 percent of all employer firms, employ half of all private sector employees, pay 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll, and have generated 60 to 80 percent of all new jobs over the last ten years.

To ensure that local small businesses and entrepreneurs are given opportunity to succeed, the Union County Economic Development Partnership has established the Union County Small Business Development Program. The Small Business Development Program is a multifaceted program consisting of workshops for small businesses and entrepreneurs, networking and educational seminars, business start-up counseling, and office space at the Marysville Entrepreneurial Center. While many of these programs are still evolving, our goal is to provide small businesses (new and existing) and entrepreneurs the resources they need to be successful.

The growth and success of every business is our top priority. That is why we have compiled the Business Resource Directory. The Business Resource Directory highlights a number of programs from various organizations in Union County, the Columbus Metropolitan Area, and the State of Ohio. These organizations provide assistance to businesses including financial, training, information and technical services.

Download the Business Resource Directory or contact our office to obtain a free copy.

If you are interested is starting a business, please contact us for personalized counseling. You may also download the Business Guide Marysville.

There are numerous other resources under the Economic Development tab of our website.

Leaders aren’t born, they are made.  And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.  And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. – Vince Lombardi

Leadership Institute Graduates

2004 2005 2006
Banks, Sue Ahern, Bob Applegate, Dr. David
Bauman, Adam Boerger, Patty Aquillo, Mike
Behrens, Kevin Clark, Christy Baetz, Nedra
Bowers, Trent Comstock, Jason Bezusko, Dave
Camron, Marilee Conklin, Gary Chrispin, Matt
Commings, Bob Cooper, Charita Clase, Joe
Conklin, Nancy Cox, Faye Cox, Jim
Cooper, Patrick Ehlers, Jeff Dostanko, Brian
Daberkow, Suzanne Finney, Rachel Hill, Tina
Duke, Joe Fisher, Spence Irwin, Sue
Franke, Chris Gandre, Harry Kannally,  Tim
Haverkamp, Jacqueline Golden, Floyd Mangine, Ellen
Hiss, Robert Krewson, Glen Miller, Kim
Holt, Ellen McDonnell, Ryan Moore, Randy
House, Kathy Orcena, Jason Nelson, Rocky
Jacques, Marian Page, Mareva Lee Oetker, Cathy
Marsh, Shari Pond, Ellen Priday, Andy
Sattler, Charles Sampsel, Mary Ravencraft, Brian
Schulze, Dennis Severn, Patricia Sayers, Chris
Smith, Evan Smith, Stephen Sellers, Leah
Stanley, Rebecca Speicher, David Smith, Brooke
Stauch, Jeff Wirtz, Carman Wieringa, Emily
Tremmel, Martin Ziegler, Jeffrey Wirtz, Jeff
Williams, Pat Zumwalde, Suzanne Zani, Carl
Winkle, Randy Ziegler, Melanie


2007 2008 2009
Ball, Brian Anderson, Michele Baldwin, Stephen
Ball, Donna Ballenger, Andy Bezusko, Carrie
Burtch, Sheryl Benson, Katie Bosch, Dan
DeLong, Greg Dietsch, Kathy Bugg, Ryan
Eley, Phil Douglas, Dick Clark, Brian
England, Christopher Goddard, Rod Connolly, John
Gehres, Brian Greenway, Tim Cramer, Deb
Given, Carrie Hanlon-Stolte, Mardy Crawford, Deborah
Golden, Doug Johnson, Beth Decot, Lisa
Kontos, Kim Keifer, Eric Fairchild, Nina
Nevil-English, Charlene Maruniak, Scott Focht, Lynnette
Page, Cortney McQuade, Brett Gleeson, David
Phillips, Dave Michalak, Laura Higinbotham, Amy
Rose, Mike Morgan, Tom Holschulte, Josh
Schaner, Debra Purcell, Jonee Kemp, Jackie
Shelton, Deb Reigle, Linda Koschalk, Kyle
Slattman, Robin Riley, Jay Kruse, Lyle
Wilson, Kim Rock, Brenda Maruskin, Scott
 Wills, Tai Smith, Anthony Mudgett, Heather
Stanford, Jason Nicol, Glen
Steele, Carla Patterson, Lorli
Perkins, Todd
Plank, Dani
Rapp, Sandy
Sech, Shawn
VanDyke, Steve
Wellman, Lisa


2010 2012 2013
Allen, Seth Beebe, Melinda Bibart, Rob
Amett, Aric Lassiter, Doug Brown, Kara
Baird, Mike Lassiter, Betty Bush, Amy
Balch, Rick Burns, Nathan Calvert, Amber
Belville, Terri Breckenridge, Sean Chapman, Tom
Brubaker, Jeniffer Reser, Shelly Chavarria, Jenny
Buerk, Phillip Ridley, Matt Collins, Evie
Hammer, Duane Stringfellow, Drew Damask, Jim
Hoyt, Jeremy Mercer, Michele Delauter, David
Jones, Alexandria Davis, Emily Garrett-Schwyn, Ashley
Lee, Tiffany Johnson, Nate Gilbert, Brad
Mason, Corry Dawson,  Tim Hamilton, Amy
McClintock, Robert Altizer, Lindsay Hassinger, Marilyn
Narducci, Bill Branstiter, Wade Maxwell, Angela
Obenour, Kathryn Knotts, Tina Michelson, Ryan
Palivoda, Tory Dreiseidel, Marcia Patton, Jamie
Smarra, Andrew See, Andrea Puckett, Kim
Scheiderer, Carol Burns, Barb Ritter, Cindy
Scroggins, Jamie Smith, Ryan Scalf-Leber, Stephanie
Tabor, Wendy Spain,  Bo
Trianfro, Jr., Victor Spellman, Susan
Watson, Candace Vollrath, Benjamin
Weaver, Andrea Weakley, Kent
Wood, Tiffany Witt, Inge
Wolfe, Jeannie



2014 2015 2016
Andrako, Mike Alexander, Janell Anderson, Bethany
Brooks, Tony Atkins, Philip Barr, Anne
Broomstra, Susan Behrens, Roberta Bemiller, Brian
Bruce, Darlene Berbee, Bob
Champman, Joe Boyer, Ashley Bishop, Andrew
Clayton, Tricia Bugg, Ashley Bosch, Alicia
Cogar, Jim Frisch, Jeffery Bott, Corrie
Colwell, Megan Hardbarger, Ashley Cohn, Chad
Cook, Aaron Krutowskis, Anna Devine, Paul
Deverse, Jessica Lambert, Jessica Flowers, Chad
Eley, Amanda LaMendola, Sue Harper, Tonia
Gruber, Abby Langhals, Jonathan Hixson, Cory
Johnston, Cody Morris, Amanda Keith, Pam
Markham, Teresa Norman, Chris Maine, Tara
Poling, Nathan North-Thompson, Tammy McHattie, Kenneth
Seeber, Sarah Nowels, Nieca McKinnon, Stephanie
Stidam, Amanda Partee, Lindsay Michael, Beau
Tarney, Erin Sattler, Barbara Porter, Arlene
Will, Anthony Scott, Leesa Sachs, Nate
Winter, Brian Utt, Matt Spires, Brian
Warner, Roberta Thompson, Ashley
Thrush, Jennifer
Walters, Jason
Ware, Sue
Zweizig, Holly
Bowsher, Nick
Brake, David
Bresson, Paul
Davidson, Bryan
Dejarnette, Mel
Feucht, Kyle
Gindlesberger, Tasha
Goins, Kyle
Heminger, Kim
Hoyng, Kyle
Johnson, Alexis
Justice, Michael
Mickens, Laura
Niccolini, Debra
Potridge, Kris
Seeberg, Chad
Sigrist, Stephanie
Spain, Betsy
Sperrazza, Dominic
Stephens, Amy
Stevens, Joni
Stoppa, Cindy
Wallace, Cassandra
Wever, Rebecca
Xiong, Shiping

Past Leadership Institute Research Projects

10 Lesson Plan for Teaching Leadership to Elementary Students
A Canoe Livery Proposal for Big Darby in Union County
A Proposal for a Youth Center in Union County
Advantages and disadvantages of a dog park
An Orientation Program for New Students in the Marysville Exempted Village School District
Chamber of Commerce’s Comparative Analysis
Children Cell Phone Use
Exploration of Workforce Development Activities Among Service Providers
Financial preparedness for post-secondary education in Union County
Guide for Healthy Eating in Union County
Heart of the City Walk
How & Where do Residents Receive News and Information in Union County
How Marysville Relates to Commuters and Vice Versa
It Takes A Village
Jerome Township Brochures
Leadership Survey Presentation Resident vs. Non Resident
Logistics of Opening a Gun Range in Union County
Marysville Schools Quick Guide for Parents & Guardians Program
Memories of the Past Plain City
The Im-Balance of Nature in Union County
Need for Pediatric Respite Service in Union County
Ohio Historical Marker Program
Operation Feed Union County
Pamphlet for Richwood Visitors
Partnership between Union County Leadership & Union County Business Education
Preserve America Designation
Proposal for exploring different sites to relocate the Union County Airport
Scholarship Essay Contest
Summer Activities Guide for Youth in Union County
Survey of Employee Training Program
Test Pilot Volunteer Program for East Elementary
Two Grant Approvals for Historical Markers in Union County
Union County Covered Bridge Tour DVD
Union County Heritage Brochure
Video of the History of Magnetic Springs
Volunteer Leadership Opportunities Brochure
Volunteer Resources in Union County
Wellness Program for Businesses
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