Our History

Leadership Lancaster has celebrated 35 years of training men and women from diverse backgrounds to be stewards of our community. Every day, graduates of Leadership Lancaster are making a difference in Lancaster County.

How did this legacy of service begin? Who were the key people that laid the foundation for what was to become an organization with a mission of developing outstanding leadership to support the needs of Lancaster County?

The path to Leadership Lancaster's inaugural class began in May of 1982 when the Junior League of Lancaster voted to begin a two year project on volunteerism. The goal of the League's project was to develop a project to stimulate the community to volunteer. As an organization with expertise in developing community leaders, the League embraced the project. One of the significant outcomes of the Volunteerism Project was Leadership Lancaster.

The League then looked to the Lancaster Chamber as a potential partner in Leadership Lancaster because the business community was key to developing new leaders. The goal of the project was simple: "find and train people to work effectively as volunteers." The project team then shaped the Leadership Lancaster program that remains today: 120 hours of class time meeting 12 times from September to May with an overview of public education, government, human services, healthcare, criminal justice, the arts, and economic development in Lancaster County. Participants work on community action teams and learn leadership skills that also enhance performance in the workplace. Since skill building accounts for 40% of the overall curriculum, participants are able to take real results back to their workplace and their volunteer positions. In 1983, as in 2008, the selection process played a key role in Leadership Lancaster's design. The project team's objective was a "diverse, energetic, interesting and committed class of participants with a common desire to be as effective as possible in their volunteer roles." By May of 1983, the project team was formalized into the first Leadership Lancaster Board of Directors, led by the late John Synodinos. Recruitment for the first class included a letter sent to local businesses which sought help in identifying, nominating and sponsoring candidates. That inaugural class began their journey in September of 1983, just 16 months from the time the Junior League began the project on volunteerism.

After 35 years, the success of Leadership Lancaster is evident in the more than 1,600 graduates who have been privileged to participate. Over 100 companies in Lancaster County sponsor Leadership Lancaster programs, and over 125 men and women volunteer each year as faculty and facilitators for the class sessions. This has resulted in well-trained, dedicated alumni who are serving their community in countless ways. Over 87% of graduates have maintained or increased their volunteer hours since graduation.

Lancaster owes its gratitude to the insightful leadership of the Junior League of Lancaster and The Lancaster Chamber. Their initiative, launched 25 years ago, has resulted in a strong and impactful organization, which continues to carry out its mission in a way that benefits all residents of Lancaster County.

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