Leadership Berks key to talent retention in Berks - 6/11/2019
The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance has several stated missions. Among them is attracting and retaining talent in Berks County.
So how does bringing Leadership Berks under GRCA help support that mission?
“It certainly is one of the ways in which the alliancerealizes that, because that's part of what Leadership Berks is all about,” Leadership Berks Director Toni Eckert said. “By getting people connected to the community and polishing their leadership skills, they're more suited for a sense of belonging to the community, and their skills are honed for advancement in the workplace. Obviously, the more connected they are here, the more likely they are to stay in the community.”
GRCA president and CEO Randy Peers said that for the chamber, Leadership Berks is all about its talent retention mission. He believes participants in the program develop a greater connection to the Berks County community.
“The more you feel good and connected about your community, the more likely you are to stay,” he said. “A lot of young professionals go through Leadership Berks, and these are folks who probably could sometime along their career trajectory move out of Berks. But Leadership Berks is a way to help them fully engage in volunteerism, the not-for-profit sector, understanding all of the different stakeholders on the private sector and public sector side that make this community a really wonderful place, and I think it develops that sense of awareness that can help on the talent retention side.”
Peers noted that the chamber recently created a special membership for Leadership Berks alumni.
“I think it's just a way to keep the LB alumni engaged and give them some sort of tangible access to networking events, discounts on our corporate training options and things like that,” he said.
Additionally, Peers said, the chamber recently launched an initiative dubbed Meet Greater Reading that focuses on talent attraction retention. One of the centerpieces of that campaign is a concierge service that matches professionals who are relocating to this area with someone from the community who can help them integrate socially as well as professionally.
“We think the LB alumni would be a perfect pool of potential community connectors,” Peers said. “These are folks who know the community pretty well, they come from all walks of life, they're all different demographics, they're working in all different types of industries, so we're going to encourage and sort of leverage that alumni group in order to participate as community connectors.”
Leadership Berks is a professional development program dedicated to developing, supporting and connecting community leaders. It runs from September to June, and usually has 30 to 35 members per class. Participants must live or work in Berks.
Leadership Berks officially came to the chamber from Alvernia University on Jan. 1. The program had been housed at Alvernia since 2009.
Through the new arrangement, participants who successfully complete the program will earn three college credits in Leadership Studies that can be applied toward an undergraduate or graduate degree. Participants also will receive a 20% tuition discount to be applied toward a master's degree program at Alvernia.
“It is a co-branded partnership with Alvernia,” said Eckert, who has been with the program for 15 years. “It's administered by the chamber as a program of the Chamber Alliance; however, it is a co-branded educational partnership.”
Generally speaking, Eckert said, Leadership Berks is a good program and does a lot of good for the community.
“Without a doubt,” she said. “We've been doing this for a long time, and the program has provided huge benefits to organizations, to the consulting service loan and projects we do for nonprofit organizations in the community as part of our learning experience.
“Our students come out with an incredible understanding about our community's assets, our community's challenges, they're better positioned to make good decisions at work and as citizens in the community, and they're certainly connected to understanding the community in such a way where they're able to give back in meaningful ways.”
Although it's only been a few months, he believes moving Leadership Berks under the chamber was a good idea.
“Long term, I think this is part and parcel core to our mission and our strategic themes about leadership development and about talent retention,” he said. “That's really what it comes down to for us.” ¦