Cleveland leadership program seeks 2013 applicants

In 2006, the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation established a leadership training and development program for engaged neighborhood leaders. The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (NLDP) is a free, 15-session, 9-month community engagement training program for residents of Cleveland and those who live in its inner-ring suburbs and work with Cleveland neighborhood groups.

NLDP seeks to create more vibrant Cleveland neighborhoods by using the intentional change model, which consists of five discoveries about oneself. Practitioners in the areas of nonprofit management, marketing, event development, fundraising and organizational leadership are NLDP presenters and facilitators. Additionally, every NLDP participant and graduate has ongoing access to the services of program coaches, who give advice and support tailored to the needs of the individual. Each cohort consists of up to 20 individuals who are currently engaged neighborhood leaders in the city of Cleveland, narrowed down from 70-100 applicants.

The program began as a way to focus on developing leadership in the City of Cleveland. “The belief was that a significant amount of social and economic issues affecting the county were centered in Cleveland,” Sandra Kluk, program administrator, explained. “Therefore, we decided to start there.”

However, Kluk, a 27-year Heights resident, realized last year that there were many people like her who were working to revitalize Cleveland and living in the Heights or other inner-ring suburbs. She encouraged NLDP to open program participation to residents of the inner-ring suburbs.

“NLDP graduates are very engaged in their communities,” said Kluk. “Their commitment is demonstrated through the volunteer work they do. They participate in their communities in very tangible ways.” 

Jon Benedict, a 2009 NDLP graduate and Heights native, said that the program has helped shape his work. “Most importantly, it has given me more perspective on the diverse viewpoints that arise around a city, and it has given me a better sense of how to engage and work with the people who hold those differing views in an attempt to find commonality,” he said.

Benedict is vice president of R Strategy Group, a Cleveland-based company that provides strategic and communications counsel to clients with challenges and needs in the public sphere. One of his clients is the communications office of the CH-UH school district. He is also the co-founder and editor of Edible Cleveland, a quarterly magazine devoted to sharing the people and stories of Northeast Ohio's local food scene. 

Benedict encourages people who are serious about community building to apply for the program. “It’s a substantial commitment of time, so it’s not something to take lightly or dabble in,” he said. “But for someone who wants to enhance their learning and leadership skills, meet exceptional people from all walks of life, and really learn about Cleveland and its neighborhoods, it’s a great opportunity.”  

Recruitment for the NLDP Cohort VII program begins in June. Classes take place at Trinity Commons, 2230 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, on the third Saturday of the month, starting Sept. 7. For more information and an application, visit or call 216-776-6172.

Kendra Dean

Kendra Dean is a graduate student at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and an intern at FutureHeights.

Read More on Non-Profit & Groups
Volume 6, Issue 6, Posted 2:37 PM, 05.30.2013