Leadership San Francisco: Celebrating 30 Years of Leaders

This year, Leadership San Francisco – what I believe to be the Bay Area’s premier leadership development program – is celebrating 30 years of educating and developing community trustees to prepare to make significant contributions to our community. That’s an impressive achievement and, in honor of this milestone, I’m taking a few moments to tell you about this enrichment program that truly is an asset to our region.

Established in 1985, LSF is a nonprofit affiliate of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Here’s how it works: each year, approximately 50-60 future community leaders are selected to participate in LSF’s 10-month program where they are challenged to increase their understanding of the environment in which they live and work – and to learn how to respond effectively to community issues.

LSF sets the stage for participants to meet with the ‘movers and shakers’ of the city – CEOs, elected officials, educators, members of the media and leaders in various fields are eager to be invited as presenters at the monthly sessions.

Participants strengthen their leadership, communications, and collaborative skills while they build strong relationships with their colleagues. As San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer (LSF Class of 1988) puts it, “Leadership San Francisco provides a unique opportunity for leaders from the non-profit, government and business sectors to work together to develop well-informed and active community trustees.”

There are leadership development programs of all tyoes across the nation, but when I sat down with LSF Executive Director Dianne Easton I learned what makes San Francisco’s program so special (Dianne, you see, has managed LSF for 26 years – so she knows a little something about this signature program!).

Dianne explained there are several elements that differentiate LSF from the rest of the pack. According to Dianne, “We bring together a group of both existing and emerging leaders that is highly diverse in ethnicity, gender, culture, profession, age or otherwise. We empower each participant to design their curriculum according to their interests and aspirations. And, we facilitate and strongly encourage participants to cultivate personal relationships with each other.”

You may be interested in learning what participants have to say about the program, and we’ve received a consistent flow of comments from LSF alumni through the years. One 2014 alum shared his thoughts on LSF, stating, “During [my] nine-month period as a participant of LSF, I have been able to grow professionally as well as personally. The experience was a valuable one, and something I am grateful for.” A 2013 alum wrote to Dianne noting that, “LSF changed my life even more than I’d anticipated.” These comments – and the many others Dianne and LSF receive from participants, alumni, and supporters go a long way in reinforcing just how impactful LSF is on people’s lives.

Speaking of long, this edition of How We See It has exceeded its “desired length.” But, I can’t leave off without sharing one additional insight from Dianne that resonates deeply with me. In our discussion, I asked how she might define “community trustee.” She responded, “One definition is, ‘You will know what it means to be a community trustee when you plant a tree you will never sit under.’”

I should tell you that I’m not only the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO – I’m also a member of the current LSF class. I encourage you to learn more about LSF at www.leadershipsf.org and find out, as I have, what it is to be a community trustee. Happy 30th Anniversary, LSF.

Bob Linscheid
President & CEO
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce