Welcome to Leadership Barry County

Our mission is to develop and link leaders for stronger communities.

What is the cornerstone of leadership?

Leadership Barry County believes that the answer to this question is connection—it is the neighborhoods and communities of Barry County. The mission of Leadership Barry County is To Develop and Link Leaders for Stronger Communities. While this statement is brief, our work is broader and deeper than ever before.

Our roots reach back to 1989, when the W.K. Kellogg Foundation issued a grant to Michigan State University extension offices for leadership and local government education. Out of that grant, Leadership Barry County became the pioneer rural leadership program in southwest Michigan. The foundation of our work is an annual program for people who work or live in Barry County. Each year, a new class engages in this program to better understand community needs and resources, as well as key aspects of leadership. Important parts of this program include behind-the-scenes tours of Barry County, the state capitol building in Lansing, and our local courts and jail. Class members dive deep into topics such as diversity, communications, building consensus, and local and state government structure and financing. The capstone is a service project that is entirely planned and executed by the class.

Growth doesn’t stop with the program. Over the past 28 years, our network has grown to almost 500 program graduates. These alumni are offered continued opportunities to keep learning and connecting throughout west Michigan. Leadership Barry County also provides broader services to the community, such as workshops on running for public office and serving as a point of connection between non-profit organizations and potential board members. This year, we are embarking on an inventive new partnership to provide training to county boards and commissions.

If you would like to recommend someone for the program, or if you are an alumni looking for resources or an opportunity to be more involved in the work of leadership, contact director Sarah Alden at the Barry Community Foundation: (269) 945-0526 or email sarah@barrycf.org.