I'm still scratching my head over a breakfast I attended last week with more than 90 people celebrating the 25th year of Leadership Pleasanton.

The popular nine-month educational program is sponsored by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and the city. And, I'm amazed that 25 years has passed since a younger version of myself was a member of the first graduating class.

Back then, Pleasanton was a sleepier town but emerging as one of the best places to live, to enroll your children in school, and to establish a business. Ken Mercer was mayor, Hacienda was still new, and four-foot tumbleweeds still occasionally rolled south down Main Street with brisk winds. I'm not kidding. I saw this happen.

When a few chamber of commerce and city chiefs proposed that Pleasanton offer a leadership program to educate potential community leaders, I signed up. I was a young banker and wanted to learn more about our community.

Just like today's program, our class of aspiring civic leaders met on a monthly basis from September to May for a full day away from work to learn through hands-on experience and meetings with city and business officials how local government works. We learned what Pleasanton offers in health and human services, how business is vital to our community, how our schools offer superior education for our youth, and how public safety serves and protects us. We also learned about city history, communications and the media, the environment and transportation, and our cultural arts and recreation programs.


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While Carolanne Montgomery was active in establishing the program, these days the leadership classes are shepherded along by the guiding hands of Joyce and Bob Shapiro, two of Pleasanton's most dedicated and kind-hearted community volunteers. Kate D'Or also deserves recognition for her dedication to the program.

One element of the program that has made it so valuable for the more than 600 graduates is that the monthly meetings are coordinated by individuals with expertise in a given field. As an example, the session involving local government is hosted by City Manager Nelson Fialho, who, as part of the day, conducts a mock council meeting for participants to offer them a sense of the pressure elected officials feel when the TV camera is rolling and citizens are speaking at the lectern and a decision about some civic issue must be made.

This year's class kicked off its first day at last week's breakfast. The program is so popular that next year's class is already sold out. Each class can accommodate between 25 and 30 people.

The best candidates for the program are those with an interest and commitment to the community; who wish to be more active in business and community activities; who want to become part of a network of personal and professional contacts active in community affairs; and who can make a commitment to attend all the monthly sessions.

To learn more, contact the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce at 925-846-5858, ext. 203 or visit www.pleasanton.org.

Contact Jim Ott at jimott@sbcglobal.net.