San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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July 21st, 2008
Leadership San Marcos

The success of a community has much to do with citizen involvement and taking an active interest in welfare.Leadership San Marcos is helping individuals become active participants in society while promoting a sense of civil duty.

The program lasts seven to eight months with a commitment of a one-day session per month. Presentations are put on by representatives from different professional sectors in San Marcos involved with business, nonprofit, education and city government. Throughout the program, the class determines where help is needed in the community and proposes a group project to undertake accordingly.

John Rodriguez, president of Leadership San Marcos, said the organization was founded over 20 years ago to seek individuals who could inform and enhance the community.

“There was not a lack of leadership before the program began, but the type of leaders we are producing are more available, and the program graduates are more aware of opportunities to serve,” Rodriguez said.

He said program participants benefit because they are more aware of resources the community has to offer and how things get done.

“I think it’s important that people understand how the city government works, who the contacts are and how to get things done there,” Rodriguez said. “It’s also important to know what types of businesses and social services are located in San Marcos and who the major players are.”

He said businesses and other groups in town will frequently send employees through the program.

“Employers benefit from sending their employees through the program because they become more aware of resources in the community,” Rodriguez said. “There’s also networking opportunities so connections can be made with different organizations and businesses.”

Stacy Batts, treatment program coordinator for the Hays Caldwell Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, participated in Leadership San Marcos in 2006. Her group undertook the task of raising money and building the city welcome sign in front of the public library.

“The program teaches you about community awareness and involvement from a personal and professional level,” Batts said. “It teaches everyone how they can use their strengths and talent to enhance San Marcos as a community.”

Batts said the networking opportunities were great and she still benefits from them.

“Because of the business I’m in, the program gave me an excellent venue to network professionally with all the alumni from previous classes and participate with future classes,” Batts said.

She said the program provided an avenue for the class to choose their project and realize what needed to be done.

“Whenever you’re working on a project in a group everybody fits in their niche,” Batts said. “You see what it is you’re capable of doing with your time and strengths.”

Karen Gordon-Sosby, assistant director of the Texas State Student Health Center, is an alumna of the 2007 program, and their project was building a memorial statue for Chief Placido, the leader of the Tonkawa Indian tribe, who aided the first settlers of San Marcos in the 1840s. The statue stands in San Marcos City Park near the river.

“We researched the Tonkawa tribe, did the fundraising and got someone who is incredibly talented in our group to make the sculpture,” Gordon-Sosby said.

She said the program gave her an opportunity to branch out in the community.

“It was a great experience because I got to work with people outside my profession and the university who I would not normally interact with,” Gordon-Sosby said. “I learned a lot more about San Marcos and all the different parts of it.

Gordon-Sosby said she realized her own leadership ability after working on the group project.

“You feel a lot more invested in your city when you know a lot more about it,” she said. “When you know the history, you are just a better advocate of all parts of the community because you’re better informed.”

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