Naperville Nuances

January 2019 View more

The chamber’s inaugural Leadership Naperville! program

Chamber program offers an inside look at the historic and operational structure of the city

I recently was invited to join a new pilot program offered by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Naperville! Longtime members, as well as those new to the city, spend six weeks getting behind-the-scenes insight into the workings of the city. Whether you are a new resident or a native who has some time on your hands, this can be a great way to find out more about your community. Here are six things I learned:

  1. The leaders of Naperville are happy to share their success stories to motivate others.
  2. If you’re new to Naperville, this course can give you a handle on what makes the city tick.
  3. If you want to get involved, try volunteering.
  4. There are several qualities that all good leaders share.
  5. Collaboration is a key to success.
  6. The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce is well respected by its members.

For Ashley Strubel, a sales manager with Rightsize office furniture, the course was an opportunity to learn more about the community.

“I live in Plainfield and I had never been to Naper Settlement before,” she says. “Learning about Naperville’s history helped me learn why some things are the way they are here.”
During the course we visited six key places. At Edward Hospital we all learned what makes a good leader (and I personally learned that teamwork is invaluable when you lose your car in the parking lot).

Christine Jefferies, president of the Naperville Development Partnership, taught us about the importance of commercial business on our taxes.

“The split between commercial and residential taxes are 25/75. Without commercial taxes, homeowners’ taxes would go through the roof. Economic developments lesson the burden on all of us,” she says.

We learned that Naper Settlement is a museum that doesn’t live in the past. A tour of historic Naperville on the Naperville Trolley and a quick visit to the museum’s archive facility on Fort Hill Drive taught us that the city has always learned from history to develop a better future.

At City Hall, state Representative Grant Werhli talked about the importance of balancing civic duty with work and family.

We visited “the safest place in Naperville” when Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis showed us the emergency operations center below ground at the fire department, and finally we learned about the importance of volunteerism to all of the 80 nonprofits that are members of the chamber.

Best of all was the opportunity to get up close and personal with the people who have their fingers of the pulse of Naperville. Whether you are looking to become a leader, or are simply looking for an insider’s view of the city, this is a great opportunity for personal growth.

The chamber’s events manager, Beth Ann DeFranco, is hoping to run an extended version of the trial course late spring, and you don’t need to be a chamber member to attend.

“It’s aimed at people who want get in touch with the community and maybe become more involved,” she says. “It’s really for anyone who lives here who wants to make Naperville a better place. This course just touches the tip, the next one will dive a little deeper.”

For more information about the next course, contact the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce at 630.355.4141.

Photo courtesy Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce