Gary Lester will take over as director of the Leadership Warren County, coordinating the recruitment of class members and program speakers.
Lester retired as executive director of Family Services of Warren County earlier this month.
He is a Warren native and lives near Russell with his wife Penny. He holds a masters degree in Community Counseling from St. Bonaventure University, and a certification in Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Lead Management from the William Glasser Institute. He had previously been employed by Whirley DrinkWorks! and the Times Observer.
Lester said he is excited about the opportunity.
"I really love this community," he said. "When I was at the paper, I had the opportunity to learn about local government, business and industries, the educational system and recreational opportunities. I've furthered that knowledge with volunteer work and involvement with the United Fund of Warren County. Knowing all that made me really appreciate what the community has to offer. Leadership Warren County will give others that great experience and desire to become involved."
Lester is the third director of the Leadership Warren County program. The first was Jim Goodling, followed by Mary Jo Zubrod.
The program will begin its seventh class in late September, with a curriculum centering on Warren County and development of professional skills.
The nine-month program will meet two afternoons per month, and will center on topics affecting the county such as the justice system, history, architecture, agriculture, education and more. Technical skills such as strategic planning, visioning, teamwork, fund raising and others will be explored as well.
The course draws upon the wisdom and knowledge of the community, with community members who have direct involvement in the topic being discussed.
Industrial tours held at the end of the term will bring everything which has been learned into focus by showing how the local economy works. Tours in the past have included Whirley DrinkWorks!, Ellwood Industries, the Struthers Library Theater and others.
Barbara Tubbs, chairperson of the Steering Committee, said that the program has proven its effectiveness. "A poll has shown that community participation among program alumni has increased significantly," she said. "That increase in civic involvement is why the program was created."
Tuition for the course is $1,800 and is generally paid by the participants' employers, although some scholarship funds are available.
Applications and additional information can be found at www.leadershipwarrencounty.org.