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My friends from graduate school call me a “fellowship junky” because I actively seek out and participate in all leadership development programs available. I agree that I have probably spent more hours than necessary in leadership seminars and immersive experiences than the average non-profit executive. While I highly value the leadership development and self-reflection that fellowships offer, I am attracted to these opportunities because they connect you with communities of leaders who are dedicated to serving others. I grew the most as a person through the peer relationships that I developed in these programs. My peers challenged my ways of thinking, provided constructive feedback, and often became lifelong friends.
I want to highlight one program that made a significant impact on my career, LEAD New York, which is a two-year leadership development program for the future leaders of New York’s food and agriculture sector. I am a proud alumnus of Class 16, along with Mike Colizzi, Chad Hendrickson and Adam Rak, who are also leaders in the grape industry. Before us, there have been at least a dozen wine/grape/beverage industry folks have gone through the LEAD program. And, participants have included more than just grape growers, but leaders in other related businesses and boards (e.g. several NYWGF, NYWIA and NYSWGG board members, Welch’s/National Grape board members, maltsters, hop growers, and academics). In fact, you will find LEAD alumni serving in leadership roles throughout the entire food and agriculture industry.
I highly recommend the program to anyone who wants to develop their personal leadership skills and also desires to help advance the growth of our agricultural sector. The program connects its participants to the greater agriculture community outside their specific industry, which creates valuable bonds that strengthens New York’s agriculture community. I am available to share my experience with anyone interested in learning more about the program.
Applications are due March 1st and can be found at www.leadny.org. The program seeks diverse candidates – in all its forms – in their recruitment efforts. This includes all of the demographic diversity factors people normally think about when they hear the term, but also geographic (Downstate applicants in Long Island, NYC, and Hudson Valley are highly desired,) and service sector diversity.
I should mention that LEAD NY participants get to travel abroad for an immersive international agriculture experience. My class traveled to the Philippines and Vietnam, which was a transformative experience to see food systems in other countries. LEAD NY not only makes you a leader for New York, but it also prepares you as a globally minded leader.
Sam Filler, Executive Director
New York Wine & Grape Foundation