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CARMEN KOTT: Manistee Area Leadership Team: A Review

MANISTEE, MICH. - Time will always be a funny thing. In writing this, this year's Manistee Area Leadership Program is coming to a close, when it feels like only yesterday I was welcoming this year's cohort. Now they are gearing towards their big ribbon cutting to commemorate their community service project.

One of the key focuses of the Manistee Area Chamber is leadership and professional development, which is exemplified through the Manistee Area Leadership Program. This nine-month program is designed to elevate the abilities of our existing leaders and cultivate the potential of future leaders within the Manistee area. The Leadership Cohort consists of professionals from diverse occupations in the Manistee region. Through this initiative, participants gain valuable insights into Manistee County, including its strengths, trends, and local issues.

Each year, the Leadership Cohort is tasked to take a deep dive into the challenges our community encounters. As part of the requirement, they must choose a community project for the betterment of Manistee County; this year's cohort chose the First Street Dog Park. Watching them take all of the steps towards bringing their plan to fruition has been wonderful: as a dog owner, I can't wait for the brand new park's unveiling this summer.

This year's cohort members had much to take away from their experience.

"The Leadership Cohort was an amazing experience that opened my eyes to all the different industries and opportunities for leadership within Manistee County," said Katie Mehl of the Manistee County Planning Department. "As someone who works in the public sector, I felt I had a good understanding of the community but this program really showed me how much more there is to learn!"

"The class widened my understanding of the community's history, industry, government, and support. I think [this program] would be great for any new and existing leaders in Manistee," said Arnold Malstrom from Myotek.

"The leadership program was an amazing experience to see the impact our little community has not only in Manistee but to the world!" said Lacy Crummey with Wexford-Missaukee-Manistee Great Start Collaborative. "It was truly eye-opening to see all the amazing things happening right in our hometown. It was also great connecting with people from different industries and seeing how we can all support each other's work. I am beyond thankful for the chance to participate in the leadership program and the impact will be lifelong. Thank you Manistee Area Chamber." 

Having leadership development opportunities in any community is so important: to have the ability to learn about your community and its needs so that you too can be an advocate for those needs. Leadership development can help someone realize that they are capable of making a difference. 

This program involves collaborating with individuals of diverse personalities, inspiring them to come together to overcome obstacles even when perspectives differ. In reality, when you join a board or commission, you will be compelled to navigate these differences to foster unity and achieve common goals. 

I am extremely proud of this year's cohort. There are numerous excellent opportunities for individuals to gain valuable experience and grow professionally, enabling them to progress towards becoming the successful business leaders they aspire to be.


Carmen Kott is the Manistee Area Leadership Program facilitator and Operations Manager for the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit 501 C (6) organization. You can contact Kott at 231-723-2575 or