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Building leaders for Wilson

Building leaders for Wilson

The Wilson Chamber of Commerce generally builds its program of work around four pillars:  networking, advocacy, marketing, and education.  If there were a fifth pillar, it would be leadership, but because much of our focus in that space is around leadership development, we generally fold this concept into our education pillar.  The Chamber coordinates two leadership development programs as a way to ensure our community elevates individuals with a spirit of service into positions where they can influence the best possible future for Wilson:

Chamber Executive Academy

The Chamber Executive Academy (CEA) is our signature program for mid and senior-level executives in Wilson.  Formerly known as Dynamic Leadership Wilson, CEA is less of a training program, and more of a way for established leaders to learn more about our market, and become more informed contributors to their organizations and our community.  The program begins annually in June with a "Passing the Torch" reception, where each graduating Academy class passes course responsibility and introduces the succeeding class.  In September, the new class embarks on a day-long executive retreat, building a cohesive team, exploring leadership styles, and selecting a community service project. 

The program proceeds with a series of monthly immersive sessions on various dynamics of our community including agriculture, healthcare, education, and economic development.  Each of these sessions includes a portion of the day devoted to completion of their chosen community service project, which is selected by the class from options submitted by area nonprofit organizations.  CEA graduates complete the program not only having learned more about the community where they work, but also having gained lifelong friendships and a sense of satisfaction for having completed a project that benefits our entire community.

Wilson Leadership Institute

Founded in 2015 as the Impact Initiative, Wilson Leadership Institute (WLI) is a leadership training program designed to identify, educate, and deploy leadership talent to highly visible public service roles in our community.  WLI is a cooperative initiative of the Chamber and Wilson Forward, and is a highly competitive program intended to attract ambitious leaders with a desire to serve.  Not all WLI participants have prior leadership experience, but most have a desire to serve in some sort of public-facing capacity, including elected office or on local boards of directors for charities and other organizations.

After a rigorous selection process, participants are instructed in applied leadership from practitioners in fields as varied as industry, education, real estate, and the military.  Established local leaders supplement these seminars with "plug-in" exercises to acquaint WLI participants with subjects all local leaders should master:  public speaking, fundraising, event planning, and more.  Finally, WLI participants work cooperatively on a "white paper" topic, with the intent to provide clarity on an issue of community concern.  Previous WLI white papers have focused on chronic unemployment, middle school career exploration, and young professional recruitment and retention.  Graduates present their white paper findings at the Wilson Forward annual meeting, and are recommended for leadership positions that best match their interest and abilities.

Learn more about both these programs by visiting or

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