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Community development is shaped by the leaders of that community. Leaders listen and experience the people’s needs, have foresight when making important decisions, and collaborate when possible for the benefit of all. Leaders have focus and direct actions towards the needs, they understand the past and assess the present to produce good future outcomes. Good Leaders are paramount to the betterment of life and services provided in the community.

The vision of this program is to enhance the skills of current leaders or develop future leaders in our community that will utilize their talents and passions to make a positive impact in the Manistee area.  Current and prospective leaders will acquire knowledge of the strengths, trends, and issues within Manistee County with the goal of participants identifying and getting involved in ways of affecting change.

It is a nine-month program where participants will explore and engage key skills, meet current community leaders, and showcase many important areas of our local community.  Prospective leaders will acquire knowledge of the strengths, trends, and issues within Manistee County with the goal of the participants becoming leaders in identifying ways of affecting change.  

At the end of the program, the leadership cohort will create and fulfill a community service project.  This project enables the leaders to put their skills to the test and work through a service project.  The comradery will build positive lessons and relationships that will hopefully benefit the community in the future. 

  • Learn about the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in Manistee County.  Find ways to put your skills and passions to work for greater community improvement.
  • Acquire a larger network of contacts and resources by meeting with current leaders.  Learn from their wisdom, experience, and vision.
  • Expand your personal development either enhance current skills or gain new to become prepared for community leadership roles.
  • Collaborate with other local professionals throughout the program and build long-lasting relationships.
  • Become a future community leader who can anticipate change and act decisively
  • Apply knowledge gained immediately to maximize contributions at current employers and organizations.

2023/2024 Leadership Cohort


Rebecca Danison - Centra Wellness
Zach Reau - Edward Jones
Abbie Hubbard - Filer Credit Union
Katie Mehl - Manistee County Planning Department
Jeffery Kamaloski - Manistee Intermediate School District
Holly Eckard - Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties, LLC
Alexander Nurmikko - Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties, LLC
Arnold Malstrom - Myotek
James Wygmans - Myotek
Tina Holden - Networks Northwest/Michigan Works! Manistee
Heather Luttrell - Networks Northwest/Michigan Works! Manistee
Zebadiah  Jones - Packaging Corporation of America
Lacy Crummey - Wexford-Missaukee-Manistee Great Start Collaborative

2022/2023 Leadership Cohort

The 2022/2023 Leadership Cohort has selected water safety as its theme for this year’s community project. For the 2023 Big Day of Serving, the leadership group will be building and installing Life Vest Loaner Stations at various waterfront locations around Manistee County. These life vest loaner stations will be permanent structures containing varying sizes of life vests from infant to adult. The stations will work based on the honor system - borrow a life vest and return it when done. The goal of the project is to help educate the community on water safety while helping to make water recreation safe and accessible for all.

Kyle Gurzynski - Filer Credit Union
Debra Bowman - Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital
Rachel Henderson - West Shore Community College
Mike Szokola - Manistee County Planning Department
Jill Witkowski - Manistee Intermediate School District
Heather Taylor - Manistee Township
Payton Tyndall - Ludington Beverage
Kendra Dula - Manistee Conservation District

2021/2022 Leadership Cohort

This year's class chose to give back to the community through minor construction, clean-up, and outdoor building maintenance as their community service project or "Big Day of Serving."

Cindy Vasquez - Peterson McGregor Insurance
Kyle Ray - Networks Northwest
Alex Henderson - Mika Meyers
Lucas Richardson - Spicer Group
Rebecca Amidon - Manistee Democratic Party
Daniel Groess - Packaging Corporation of America
Devin Wegner - Manistee Intermediate School District
Michael Carroll - Packaging Corporation of America
Amber Cooper - West Shore Community College
Eva DeLaGarza - Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital
Kari Koscinski - Filer Credit Union
Sara Herberger - Historic Vogue Theater

Thank you to everyone involved in the 2022 Big Day of Serving - it wouldn't be possible without you! Special thanks to the 2022 Big Day of Serving sponsors!


2020/2021 Leadership Cohort

This year's class chose to focus on "Recycle Right" as their community service project or "Big Day of Serving." 

Participants: Brian Mckie, Josh Arnett, Heather Hansen-Foggo, Kali Owens, Kristina Bajtka, and Courtney Gorch worked together to bring awareness of the recycling practices and options within Manistee County. 

Thank you to everyone involved in the 2021 Big Day of Serving - it wouldn't be possible without you! Special thanks to the 2021 Big Day of Serving sponsors, supporters, and congratulations

Leadership Program Sponsors

Lunch Sponsor Recognition


“Joining this past year’s Leadership Program has helped me form additional professional and personal contacts. We had a quaint group, 6 in total which helped us all get to know each other on a more intimate level that will carry on for years to come. Get out there and experience what our county has to offer and find out what wonderful opportunities await you. Step outside of your comfort zone and discover what this program can do for you!” 

~Kali Owens, City of Manistee

The Leadership Program has allowed me to grow professionally while learning about and exploring the community that I live in. It is an eye-opening experience that has made me more aware of the challenges that our community faces and the fact that there is plenty of opportunity to impact the community in a meaningful way. This program has opened the door for the possibility of opportunities that I had never known about before.”

~Heather Hansen-Foggo, West Shore Community College

"The Manistee Chamber Leadership program was an amazing opportunity to meet and connect with numerous people in the community, as well as get to know eleven awesome people throughout the experience."

- Kyle Ray, Networks Northwest/Michigan Works! Manistee

"It has been a great experience being part of the 2022 Leadership Program. I have learned so much about Manistee and the people that make Manistee the way it is today. I recommend the Leadership Program to anyone living in Manistee whether you've lived here your whole life or just moved here, there is truly so much to learn about this great place! I have also enjoyed working as a team to make the Big Day of Serving a reality!"

- Kari Koscinski, Filer Credit Union

"The Leadership Program has helped me to grow professionally while networking with professionals around Manistee County. It allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and explore and learn about the community I live in. It was a very eye-opening experience that made me aware of the challenges our community faces. This program helps to make Manistee County a better place for all by teaching people how to give back to the community in a meaningful way."

- Amber Cooper, West Shore Community College

“To anyone who has the initiative and desire to become a leader in our community; The program is a great opportunity to work with other leaders whom you may have never met, to see what good things you can do for the area and what good things are already happening.” 

- Lucas Richardson, Spicer Group, Inc.

"I have really enjoyed my time as part of the Leadership Group. I was able to visit local locations that I had never been to. Specifically the Arcadia Marsh and Tippy Dam."

- Cindy Vasquez, Peterson McGregor Insurance


Not only did I learn so much about Manistee County through the leadership program, but I also got to be a part of an impactful project that will positively benefit the lives and safety of the residents and visitors of Manistee County for a long time with the installation of seven life jacket loaner stations through our class's big day of serving project.  It's powerful when people from all walks of life and all areas of commerce come together with a common goal.  I never would have been able to make such a huge and lasting difference in my community by myself, it took all of us together to make a difference.

-Rachel Henderson, West Shore Community College

If you or your company has an interest in being a part of the next class and you have additional questions please contact Carmen

via email at or by phone at 231-723-2575.