December 2016: Leadership, Networking & Fundraising

Editor’s note: As a Leadership Development Academy alum (Class of 2013-14), Linda Ross is passionate about the mission of the organization and enjoys working as Executive Director/Program Facilitator. Wisdom acquired at LDA empowers her to continue her success in business. She is excited to work with others to obtain their leadership goals.

Leadership, Networking and Fundraising

Linda Ross, Executive Director
Linda Ross, Executive Director

How would you define “leadership”? Does a leader ever doubt they are a leader? Who inspires you? How do you network? How should we go about fundraising?

These questions and more were answered at the December session of the Leadership Development Academy (LDA).  We met at SSM Health St Mary’s Hospital in Janesville.

December 2016 Leadership Overview


The day started with a brainstorming session led by AmyJo Verbeten, from SSM Health and a LDA board member. AmyJo asked participants what qualities good leaders had. Their answers were right on target. Leaders listen, have integrity, serve, are humble, have integrity, vision and more. These answers were evident in the next session during our leadership panel.  

December 2016 Leadership Panel

Leadership Panel

The leadership panel was nothing short of phenomenal. Joining us for the panel was Larry Squire from Johnson Bank, Mitch Benson from Prent Corporation, Jane Blain Gilbertson from Blain Supply and Dr. David Clark from Central Christian Church.

The experience, humility, wisdom and passion on this panel were second to none. In my opinion, it was the best panel I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. They are all great servant-leaders in our community. Hearing from the leaders and understanding that they have struggled through their journey to get to where they are, helps others to keep moving forward when they are feeling inadequate.

Powerful Advice

Sharing with the participants, the panel gave expert advice. Leaders should have vision, a fire in their belly, character (can you be trusted) and skills; in that order. If you are great with the first three, skills will come and others will follow.

A leader must know when to talk and when to listen. Leaders don’t build followers, they build more leaders. The culture of your organization in most important. You must know where you need to grow, so you can teach others how to grow.

Find a career you like and one you can thrive in. Momentum is everything. See your business as a game you want to win. Have a mentor and be a mentor.

Everyone is a leader, because everyone is a parent, spouse, friend or someone others follow. I think  you get the picture. It truly was extraordinary!

December 2016 Networking Panel


Craig DeGarmo, from DeGarmo Plumbing, and Jen DeGarmo, from FIDO, shared with the class about networking. A great team and engaging, Craig and Jen compared what the experts say about networking and what has worked for them. Ask open ended questions. Be intentional. Be yourself. Keep your eyes open for networking opportunities. Listen. Network with the right people. They put the class at ease for the Nothing But Net session they would experience after lunch.

December 2016 Xmas Cookies

Warm Cookies and Hot Chocolate

SSM Health provided lunch and snacks throughout the day. It was all delicious and we were spoiled by hot chocolate with marshmallows and warm Christmas cookies in the afternoon. The class wants to meet here every month!  

December 2016 Nothing But Net

Nothing But Net

Forward Janesville joined the Leadership Development Academy and the Greater Beloit Chamber for the largest Nothing But Net event they have ever held! More than 50 people networked during the lunch hour.

JoLynn Burden, from Forward Janesville, organized the event and made it fun for all. From finding others to form the best poker hand, to collecting business cards and introducing yourself, to playing Bingo, everyone was laughing and having a good time, while making connections.

It was a very non-intimidating way to network and in the end, everyone walked away with new connections and smiles on their faces.

December 2016 Fundraising Panel

Fundraising Panel

In the afternoon, fundraising was the name of the game. Each team is working on a team project and many of them will need to do some fundraising to support their project. Several of the participants have never had fundraising experience, so we brought in a few experts to share with them how it is done.

Our panel was a bit short, because one panel member’s hot-water heater broke that morning and another had a family emergency, so they weren’t able to make it. Thankfully, during our Nothing But Net session, I met someone who does fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and she was able to stay and help out with the afternoon sessions. She stepped up like any great leader would. Truly gracious and helpful!

Fundraising is like a “Dating Experience”

On the panel were Jen Johns from Mercy Health System and an LDA board member, Joe Jimenez from KANDU Industries and an LDA board member, Jon Urish from Beloit College and Abby Leverenz from the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The panel gave great advice to the class. They told them to not forget to ask people who have given in the past. Know who you are asking. Dig and see who they have given to in the past.

They also explained how fundraising is like a “dating experience” and is built on relationships. It was very informative and help the class gain knowledge to use during the last session of the day.

December 2016 Fundraising Simulation

Fundraising Simulation

During the last session we had a fundraising simulation.  Participants worked with their teams to come up with a presentation to give to the panel to ask for money for their projects.  I helped out on the panel for the simulation.  The panel represented a small business, a wealthy widow, a large corporation, a single person living in the city, a single mom concerned with social issues, a married couple and a community foundation.

This simulation gave the class experience in making the ask and the panel gave feedback about why they would or would not give money to the team.  Some of the panel gave money, because they felt it was an issue they would support.  Not everyone gave money to every cause, which is what happens in real life.  The class learned how to present their project and how to ask for funding.  We are hoping they are now equipped to go out and seek the funds they need to support their projects.

Powerful Day!

We had a full day learning from some top-notch leaders in our area about what leadership is, how to be effective at networking and how to support projects with fundraising. It was a busy day, filled with laughter and sharing, and in my opinion, one of the best Leadership Development Academy  sessions we have had. I can’t wait until next month!