Leadership Wilkes-Barre Executive Program connects leaders with community

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
Lori Nocito, executive director at Leadership WIlkes-Barre -

WILKES-BARRE — For more than 30 years, the Leadership Wilkes-Barre Executive Program has been an avenue for senior level executives who are new to the area, new to their position, or simply would like to get re-acquainted with the community to network, meet community leaders and learn about our Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“We take pride in knowing that we helped make a newcomer’s transition here a little bit easier, or when someone who has lived here all their lives expands their network and becomes more engaged and optimistic about our region’s future,” said Lori Nocito, executive director of Leadership Wilkes-Barre. “Spouses are welcome and encouraged to attend the program at no additional charge.

“We’ve watched friendships bloom not only from this program, but all six of our programs. It’s priceless.”

Nocito is right — you really can’t put a price on programs like Leadership Wilkes-Barre because every year, new classes gather at all levels of the program and graduates go on to contribute year after year to the community, giving it extraordinary value.

Lissa Bryan-Smith, who works as an administrator at Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, is a graduate of Executive Leadership Class of 2005. She said the program is a perfect way for a new executive to get to know the Wyoming Valley Community.

“If they have just moved here, they will immediately have a new group of friends and both the executive and the spouse or significant other attend so it knits them to the community,” Smith said. “We are just as successful with executives that have lived here their entire lives. Their re-connection to the area is so powerful to watch because they actually ‘fall in love’ again with this amazing community.”

Smith said the community benefit of Executive Leadership is multifaceted:

• Executives graduate from the program with a greater appreciation of what the area has to offer from food/dining/entertainment/history.

• They want to stay connected and often join boards or support local not for profit organizations.

• They become “champions of the valley.”

Smith said there are also benefits for the business or organization that sends their executives to the program:

• They experience less turnover due to “not liking where they live.”

• They have leadership connected to their communities — a win/win.

Executive Leadership Wilkes-Barre began in 1985 as a community orientation program for key executives, professionals, and their spouses. Nocito said applications for the fall 2018 Executive Leadership program are currently available.

Since 2003, Nocito has been the executive director of Leadership Wilkes-Barre, a leadership development and community awareness organization serving Luzerne County. Nocito said the organization’s mission is to develop informed and committed leaders from all segments of our community.

They host six leadership programs targeting multiple areas in the community — Core, Executive, Junior, Intercollegiate, Professional Development and Impact, for area primary and secondary teachers. For more information on each of these programs, please click on the corresponding link.

Nocito said Executive Leadership Wilkes-Barre is designed for senior business and non-profit executives that are new in their position, new to Northeast Pennsylvania or executives who would like to get reacquainted with our community.

The program is conducted each fall and consists of six dinner sessions. Each session includes social and networking opportunities, presentations, question and answer period, and dinner. Spouses are welcome and encouraged to participate at no additional cost.

Program objectives

• Acquaint participants with Northeastern Pennsylvania’s history, business environment, political and civic structures, and community and economic development initiatives.

• Provide information about local cultural and recreational resources.

• Provide the opportunity to interact with a cross-section of key local decision-makers.

• Introduce participants to the other executive/professional individuals and couples.

• Help program graduates become involved with the community by matching your interests to an organization or activities.

• 2018 Program Dates: Sept. 17, 24; Oct. 1, 15, 22, 29.

Leadership W-B history

Leadership Wilkes-Barre is a tuition-based community leadership development program for adults. It began in the summer of 1981 when the idea of such a program was presented to a group of community leaders by then Executive Director of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, John Sheehan.

At that time, five community leaders — Tom Bigler, John Conyngham, Tom Kiley, Bill Leandri and Ed Schechter — realized that the smooth operation of volunteer agencies and of local government depended on a steady supply of leaders who are familiar with the community, its problems and issues, and are also capable of organizing and directing the efforts of others.

The need to have a mechanism for identifying new leaders and including them in the community structure had been a problem that had been addressed over the years with varying success. A leadership program appeared to be the solution. Its goals were to seek out the Wyoming Valley’s future leaders and provide them with the information, skills and training needed to be leaders.

Deciding that the community’s future was too critical to be left to chance, Bigler, Conyngham, Kiley, Leandri and Schechter formed a steering committee of community leaders to develop a leadership program for the Greater Wilkes-Barre area. This committee ultimately became the founding Board of Directors of Leadership Wilkes-Barre.

Proceeding rapidly, the first program was introduced in the fall of 1981 with a class of 20 participants from a variety of businesses, industries, social service agencies, health and educational institutions, labor and non-profit organizations.

With the advice and assistance of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, the organizing board chose to join the National Association of Community Leadership Organizations. They patterned the objectives and supporting program of Leadership Wilkes-Barre after the successful format operating in similar programs across the United States.

Lori Nocito, executive director at Leadership WIlkes-Barre
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_Lori-Nocito.jpgLori Nocito, executive director at Leadership WIlkes-Barre

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Executive Leadership Fast Facts

• 6 dinner programs

• Sessions are held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

• Average class size is 20-25 participants

• Sessions are hosted at local venues which often directly relate to the topic being presented


— History of NEPA

— Arts & Culture

— Economic & Community Development

— Downtown Revitalization

— Recreation & Attractions

— Volunteer Opportunities

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.