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Leadership Springfield breaking off from chamber

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After 34 years as an affiliate program of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Springfield is making the switch to an independent organization as it searches for its first executive director.

Leadership Springfield board President Mike Brothers said the organization will continue to operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with an independent board — just as it has since inception in 1984. The difference will be Leadership Springfield will no longer pay the chamber for its operational services led by chamber employee Jamie Fields.

Chamber President Matt Morrow said Fields, who’s served as Leadership Springfield program coordinator, is taking on the new role of membership development manager with the chamber.

The person the Leadership Springfield board hires would strategically direct the organization, work to expand programs and oversee an undisclosed amount of planned hires, according to a job posting on the chamber’s website. It is a full-time position.

“The reason that we’re doing this now is we see a lot of potential for the kinds of professional development that Leadership Springfield does. It’s pretty unique in the community,” said Brothers, who’s also executive director of university relations for Drury University. “An executive director will be tasked with striking those partnerships, surveying the horizon and working with our board to make all of that happen.”

Brothers said the executive director search is intentionally being conducted locally so the hire is intimately familiar with the community. He expects Leadership Springfield alumni to be among the applicants. Applicants are required to send their resumes to incoming Leadership Springfield board President Don Harkey, CEO and sole shareholder of People Centric Consulting Group LLC.

A collaboration between the chamber, Junior League of Springfield and United Way of the Ozarks, Leadership Springfield is a comprehensive community-based leadership development program. In 2016, Leadership Springfield announced it would expand to two signature classes in 2017. The deadline to apply for signature classes 35 and 36 is April 16.

Morrow said when he returned to Springfield in 2014 to take over the top chamber post, one of the first meetings he had was with the former Leadership Springfield board president about the potential change to an independent organization.

“It’s a big step, but it’s a step that’s been years in the works for the group,” he said. “Most nonprofits … start small. They either grow to that next level that Leadership Springfield is doing or they don’t. So I think it’s really to the credit of the Leadership Springfield board.”

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