An Upper Arlington program aimed at fostering local adult and youth leaders, as well as community activism, will enter its 26th year when it opens its 2014-15 class this fall.
Leadership UA is seeking 12 to 15 adults interested in becoming more engaged in the local community by learning more about Upper Arlington's history, government, education and community services.
The longstanding program, which provides networking opportunities with the city's current and future leaders, will accept applications for its 2014-15 class through Sept. 23.
"Leadership UA is great because not only will individuals be educated on how our community works, they gain an understanding of who's making decisions and how those decisions are being made," said Mary Ellen Hatch, Leadership UA executive director.
"The dynamic of every class includes the group intimately having exchanges with community leaders," she said.
"They build face-to-face relationships. We're talking 12 to 15 students, maximum, so they really can build those personal relationships."
Sign-up for the 2014-15 Leadership UA class can be completed at leadershipua.org, and more information can be obtained by emailing Hatch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost to participate is $800, and includes meals members have at local restaurants prior to each meeting, which take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays.
The fee also includes expenses for a two-day retreat at Camp Akita in Logan, which Hatch said typically proves to be one of participants' fondest memories.
"This is when friendships are formed, as classmates gain a greater understanding of themselves and others through a series of leadership and personality exercises," a program press release stated.
Partial scholarships and payment plans also are available.
"One nice thing is there is no homework," Hatch said. "All the meetings are in Upper Arlington, with the exception of a leadership panel in March that we do with all kinds of city leaders from other communities."
Orientation for this year's Leadership UA class is slated for Sept. 25, and the retreat will take place the first weekend in October.
Graduation is scheduled for April 30.
In addition to networking and learning more about leadership skills and local decision-making, each class takes on a service project designed to benefit the community in a number of ways.
Recent community service projects have included Civic Pride Day; an exploration of establishing a community fund through the Columbus Foundation that ultimately helped lead to the formation of the Upper Arlington Community Foundation; and recruiting volunteers for the Commission on Aging's Senior Service Saturdays program.
"Every year, the class itself -- not the director, not the board -- selects its project," Hatch said. "We ask them to identify something they're aware of that they feel would add value to the citizens of Upper Arlington or people who participate in a special group."
In addition to working toward fostering future community leaders who will direct local volunteer efforts or possibly run for government offices, Hatch said Leadership UA seeks to provide opportunities for graduates to serve on its board to help plan and enhance programming for future students.
Alumni also are invited to a reception each holiday season, as well as the annual graduation ceremony.