Cathy Brooks, public affairs coordinator for Dawson County, wiped her brow and smiled last Tuesday as she accepted a certificate for completing the Management Development Program with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
Brooks was one of 17 local government employees who completed three 42-hour courses designed to develop and improve skills for effective team leadership, communication and group dynamics.
“I have taken somewhat similar courses in the past, but none specifically targeted toward government and I can’t recall any quite as rigorous as this one,” Brooks said.
In addition to weekly course meetings, participants were required to complete a group community service project, as well as develop an action project with the knowledge they learned in the course to implement into their respective government positions.
Individual projects ranged from requiring sprinkler systems in residences, to energy efficiency, planning a 150 year anniversary for the city of Dawsonville, and a beginners guide to the county’s new geographic information system, among others.
As a group, the graduates constructed a walkway and bridge connecting The Dawson County Humane Society to Rock Creek Park.
The animal shelter’s recent opening seemed like a perfect fit after program graduate Karen Armstrong learned the humane society hoped to implement Never Walk Alone, which gives park goers and animal lovers alike an opportunity to walk the dogs at the shelter as they stroll throughout Rock Creek Park.
A fear of public speaking in the past had personally and professionally limited Armstrong, assistant to the Board of Elections and Voter Registration. She said the management development course was her ticket to becoming a more confident, assertive and productive employee.
“We all have great ideas and sometimes we are afraid to voice them, thinking they are stupid. I am not afraid to take on anything and it helped push my assertiveness out so that I could take charge and do projects for our community,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said she also learned to be a better listener and effectively interact with others through teambuilding disciplines.
The teambuilding skills covered during the course will be particularly beneficial to Dawson County Emergency Services, said program graduate Fire Inspector Capt. Jeff Bailey.
“The services we provide to the county often require that we interact with coworkers, the general public, elected officials and other public safety agencies,” he said. “After completing the MDP course I feel that we will all be much more effective in managing these areas.”
Dawsonville City Administrator and Clerk Kim Cornelison said completing the management course has been of great benefit for her and the city.
“The main focus of the management development program is about having effective communication skills. This class will definitely help when I represent the city, whether it’s a one-on-one discussion with a citizen, or roundtable meetings, or group presentations. I feel more capable since completing this program,” she said.
Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner said the training and education the graduates received from the course are key to their improved job performance.
“This fine group of men and women are better prepared to lead their prospective departments as a result of the intensive management training they have received,” he said.
“I see myself as more professional, more confident and more aware of my surroundings. I can tell I have grown,” she said. “I am ready to take the lead.”
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.