By Leadership Seacoast Executive Director Jennifer Wheeler

The year was 1989.  Stamps cost $0.22, Murphy Brown and The Wonder Years were premiering on television, songs from U2’s Joshua Tree and Paul Simon’s Graceland were playing over and again on the radio.

In the Seacoast region, Pease Air Force Base was being shut down, and a group of community leaders were thinking up ways to increase civic engagement. And in June, the first class of Leadership Seacoast was graduating.

A lot has changed in the past 25 years, in the Seacoast region and within the Leadership Seacoast organization.  In the spirit of the organization’s 25th anniversary, alumni shared “25 Things You May or May Not Know about Leadership Seacoast” to attendees at the Recruitment and Scholarship Breakfast on October 8, hosted at Timberland, sponsored by McLane, Graf, Raulerson and Middleton.

See how many you know!

  1. Leadership Seacoast has been helping leaders from the private, public and nonprofits sectors discover the issues of the Seacoast in a nonpartisan way for 25 years. Statistically speaking, with over 700 alumni you are more than likely to have a friend, neighbor or colleague who is an alum. You just might not know it yet.
  2. Participating in the program will give you an instant network of friends and professional resources.  You may think your networks of friends and colleagues are sufficient, but Leadership Seacoast can connect you with people who will provide you with a whole new world of connections and support.  And help you discover the issues of our region in a different way
  3. Our goal is to empower proven and potential leaders with insider knowledge and perspectives. We are not a program that teaches people how to lead, or what color your parachute is.
  4. Leadership Seacoast has been a stepping stone for several of the area’s politicians, local dignitaries and business leaders. We don’t want to name drop, but the list of alumni is online.  Check it out to see who you know who has been through the program.
  5. You will meet and mingle with many of the state and region’s well-known movers and shakers, including the governor, executive council, superior court judges, legislators, entrepreneurs, innovative business leaders, and dedicated nonprofit professionals.
  6. You will have access to activities no mere mortal can hope for, such as a behind-the- scenes prison tour, operating the flight simulator at the NH Air National Guard, starting into the wood-burning plant at Schiller Station, or joining a member of law enforcement on a ride along.
  7. Leadership Seacoast covers more than just the Portsmouth area.  Our programming and  alumni come from all over the region — from Brentwood to Berwick, Milton to Maine, to Nottingham to New Durham, from Raymond to Rochester, Kingston to Kittery…you get the idea.
  8. We approach our applicant pool with a sense of equality and connectedness, recognizing that these diverse backgrounds and perspectives enrich our collective knowledge and the discussion around the issues.
  9. Speaking of nonpartisan, it’s important to note that our speakers, content, participants, and alumni come from the left, the right, and every step in the middle.  We are not issue-based and strive to be non-partisan.
  10. Our program committee is working hard to put together program days that help you explore your community and its interconnectedness.  The connection between the amount of money NH spends per inmate versus the amount we spend on education per student, for example.  Or the link of mental health to many important issues on the Seacoast. The rising cost of workforce housing.  The economic impact of the arts and cultural community to our area.  The impact of the NH Air National Guard to our community, and so on.
  11. There are nine program days, which include an opening retreat at the Browne Center, and a closing day at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  All program days begin at 8:00 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m.  The program calendar is online, with the objectives for each program day.  In order to graduate you need to attend at least seven of the nine program days.  Trust us: you won’t want to miss any!
  12. Homework can be fun!  There is so much to cover on any given topic that we ask our participants to do some prep work before each program day.  The time these assignments take can vary anywhere between two to four hours, and we don’t intend or expect it to be overwhelming. Homework typically includes a reading, a personal experiential, and a group assignment.
  13. Applications to Leadership Seacoast have increased by significantly in the last 5 years. Our Admissions Committee, which is made up of alumni, reviews each application and recommends the members of the class to the board of directors.  Who are we looking for?  Motivated candidates with some level of community involvement and experience and awareness of the community.
  14. We would love to be able to accept all the applicants who apply.  However, we have found that keeping our class size between 30 and 35 produces the best experience and dynamic for discovering the pressing issues of the region and creating connections with classmates.  Unfortunately, that means that not all who apply will be accepted into the class.  If you are not accepted this year, we do encourage you to reapply next year.
  15. Because of an increase in applications and interest in the program, there is a possibility that a representative from the Admissions Committee will interview you. The deadline for submitting your application has been moved up to NOVEMBER 1 to allow for the scheduling of interviews.  Please note that late applications will not be accepted.
  16. Not only has the deadline for submitting applications changed, but the process for applying has changed slightly as well.  Applications can now be completed and submitted online directly through the Leadership Seacoast website.
  17. Your place of employment may cover the cost of the tuition, which is $1,250.  If you’re not sure, ask.  Be sure to explain the networking opportunities for you and your company.  Let them know that over 150 private, public, and nonprofit businesses throughout the Seacoast have sent participants through the program over the last 25 years.
  18. If you still need assistance in covering the cost of tuition, scholarships are available.  Thanks to a generous gift from the Class of 2013 and an allocation from the board, we are able to provide assistance to those interested.  The scholarship application is available online.
  19. Since tuition only covers a portion of the cost to run the program, our corporate sponsors are a critical part to our program of delivering timely, high quality programming.  Thank you to the following LEADERSHIP level sponsors who have already committed to support the 2014 program year: Bottomline Technologies, ReVision Energy, and Wheelabrator Technologies.
  20. As alumni, you can continue your involvement with Leadership Seacoast.  Our marketing, alumni and development committee volunteers, or MAD as we like to call them, strive to offer opportunities and events that are exclusive and available only to alumni like networking socials, continued exploration of the issues, and access to other back stage events.  In the past, these have included sailing on the Gundalow, tours of Schiller Station, and backstage access to The Portsmouth Music Hall.
  21. Speaking of exclusive events only for ALUMNI… Have any alumni signed up for Leadership Seacoast Connections? Leadership Seacoast, in partnership with the United Way of the Greater Seacoast and the NH Center for Nonprofits, is offering a 2-day 3 hour each day workshop on nonprofit board development.  Following the 2nd day, the United Way of the Greater Seacoast will be holding a “Nonprofit Fair” where attendees can speak with nonprofits interested in recruiting our newly trained alumni for their board.
  22. The Class of 2013 has set the bar high for past and future alumni, inspiring all of us to give back to the community.  So far they have participated as a group with the United Way Day of Caring, and are planning on participating in a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity.
  23. Leadership Seacoast is the fun interactive class you wish you had back when you were in school, providing participants with a 30,000 foot view of the Seacoast and its issues around criminal justice, education, health and human services, environment, economic development, arts and culture, and government.
  24. No matter how long you have lived in the Seacoast, you likely will be exposed to something that you have never seen or were aware of.  You will realize there is so much more to learn.
  25. So, how many did you know?  How have you and the Seacoast changed in the past 25 years?