We met at Katherine G. Johnson Hall on George Mason University’s SciTech Campus in Manassas.
It was a congenial group. There were a lot of old friends I hadn’t seen in a while and new people who quickly became friends. Veterans of the program caught up with each other and introduced themselves to the class about to ship off to Skyland Resort in Shenandoah National Park.
Such was the sendoff for the Leadership Prince William (LPW) Class of 2020. I was a member of the Class of 2012. The opening event at Skyland is something I will never forget. I would share what went on; however, some of it was intensely personal as we discovered things about ourselves and shared very personal experiences. What happens at Skyland stays at Skyland.
The LPW program lasts 10 months. It begins in September with the overnight retreat at Skyland. After that, participants meet once a month, ending in June. My class toured the “nooks and crannies” of our community, learning about economic development, local government, social issues, and many other topics. Our instructors were elected officials, subject-matter experts and community activists. LPW is the Rosetta stone for understanding the multiple dimensions of Prince William County.
LPW armed me with information about all aspects of our county. It gave me context for my life and the roles I fill here. I have used that information as a social activist “connecting the dots” for some of the not-for-profits in our community, as a political activist trying to influence the knobs and levers of public policy, and as a member off the press writing this column.
The network turned out to be one of the most valuable resources of the program. Every alumnus is available to advise and assist. Graduates are sought after to serve on boards, run for elected office, or participate in business ventures. They were leaders going in to the program. They became informed leaders when they graduated.
Heather Steele also participated in the Class of 2012. She is now a partner with the Pesner, Altmiller, Melnick & DeMers law firm with an office in Old Town Manassas. Steele is also my first call if I need a lawyer
“LPW helped me in so many ways, both personally and professionally,” Steele said. “I’m extremely grateful for my time in LPW.” It is no surprise Steele was voted best lawyer in InsideNoVa’s Best in Prince William survey.
Mark Shaaber, CEO of Phase II Staffing and Contracting was also in the class of 2012. We have collaborated on several projects.
“LPW has led me to engage as a veteran to actively participate in the improvement of our community,” Shaaber said. “I have joined and led nonprofit boards and committees and, most impactful, founded, with two veteran partners, a small government contracting business focused on hiring and empowering military families, as well as serving the communities in which we do business.”
Leadership Prince William will start looking for members for the Class of 2021 soon. If I have captured your imagination, you can learn more at www.leadershipprincewilliam.com.
You can’t win if you don’t play. It helps to know the rules of the game. You will find the instructions for Prince William at Leadership Prince William.
Al Alborn is a political and social activist in Prince William County. His column appears every other week. You can learn more about Al at www.alborn.net.