LEAD honors those who show the way
by Sebastian Ruiz
Published - 04/05/07 - 03:13 PM | 3406 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Who has what it takes to lead San Diego into the future? Nonprofit community leadership organization LEAD San Diego thinks it has the answer.

LEAD recently announced its 2007 Visionary Award winners, honoring the recipients Tuesday, March 27, for exemplary leadership in the community, said Judy Forrester, LEAD interim CEO. The celebration "“ held at the San Diego Marriott and Marina Hotel "“ recognized work in categories such as economic opportunity, community collaboration and regional stewardship, among others.

This year's award winners include La Jolla billionaire Ernest Rady, who has served as chairman of American Assets Inc., Children's Hospital and UCSD's Rady School of Management boards. He was ranked 140 among the 400 richest Americans in 2006 by Forbes, according to Forbes.com. Rady has shared his success with donations of $30 million to UCSD School of Management and $60 million to Children's Hospital, according to LEAD San Diego.

Also honored were Jerri-Ann and Gary Jacobs, whose investment company played a key role in starting the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High charter schools at the former Naval Training Center in Point Loma in 2000, according to the High Tech High Web site.

LEAD (Leadership, Education, Awareness and Development) holds courses once a month to teach future business leaders about San Diego's infrastructure, according to Wendy Welling, director of membership and community relations.

LEAD also recognized several individuals who exemplify quality leadership skills.

Mark and Tori Baird, founders of www.hirepatriots.com, are just such individuals. Although not LEAD graduates, the Bairds were awarded the 2007 Visionary Award for Economic Opportunity. The award recognized their Web site, which helps returning soldiers and their spouses find supplemental income through job opportunities.

The Bairds created the site in 2005 out of concern for a neighbor, a young woman whose husband had been deployed to Iraq, co-founder Tori Baird said. When they saw the sergeant struggling to find temporary work, the Bairds began developing their first Web site, www.hiremarines.com.

The first month saw roughly 500 visitors, which quickly grew to 15,000 by the second month, Baird said. The site now attracts about 1,600 to 2,000 hits a day and boasts two job boards "“ one for day jobs and another for longer-term and full-time work. Business owners can register and post jobs free of charge.

Though the site is designed primarily for active-duty personnel and their spouses, nonactive servicemembers can also use the site, Baird said.

They say that while the site is a lot of work, it's rewarding to receive letters from those who say it has helped them make ends meet or even enabled them to buy Christmas presents for their children, she said.

Helping people find employment is just one component to effective community leadership. Molly Cartmill, this year's award-winner for LEAD Graduate of the Year, knows this well.

Cartmill is the chair of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, an organization partly funded by the U.S. Department of Labor that provides job training, business consulting and other services to connect businesses with potential employees, she said. Cartmill also sits on a board that advises the Workforce Partnership as well as the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Jenna Druck Foundation, which helps support young women's leadership education and provides bereavement assistance to families who have lost a loved one or child. Additionally, Cartmill serves as president of the Parent-Teacher Association of her daughter's elementary school, Hillsdale Middle School in Rancho San Diego.

But that's all in her spare time. Cartmill also juggles a full-time job as the director of corporate community partnerships for Sempra Energy.

She said the LEAD curriculum helped her understand how community issues such as K-12 education and transportation relate to the investments of a large company like Sempra Energy.

"It's rewarding. It's a good feeling to know you can bring something to the table beyond money or beyond time," Cartmill said. "It's really your knowledge and know-how and really helping the nonprofit community to be successful."

Candidates are nominated through an online application and selected by a committee of LEAD San Diego graduates, nongraduates and board members. LEAD San Diego was established in 1981 and now has more than 1,700 graduates in the community. LEAD works to connect those graduates with organizations who need highly skilled people in leadership positions, Forrester said.

LEAD students meet monthly for daylong seminars focusing on specific topics designed to teach how organizations relate to the issues and challenges that affect the community, Forrester said.

People admitted to the core curriculum have shown that they are committed to community service.

"We put a high emphasis on ethics. They are knowledgeable people that are well-rounded and understand the community at large," Forrester said of LEAD students. "And when you're talking about running a business, they must have demonstrated a desire to serve their community."

LEAD is accepting applications for the next academic year through June 8. For more information, visit www.leadsandiego.com.
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