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Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute Recruits Its 14th Class of Leaders

Are you or a friend interested in meeting local leaders and learning more about community resources in Gwinnett? Have you wanted to become more active in your neighborhood but did not know where to start?

Gain insight into these areas by joining the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute's Class of 2008-09.

The Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute (GNLI) trains and empowers local citizens and community leaders to promote positive changes in their neighborhoods and communities. GNLI has been in existence for 14 years and has proven to be a successful program to train and develop over 300 diverse grassroots leaders in the community. The Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute is sustained by dedicated individuals throughout Gwinnett County who demonstrate the passion and commitment to effect change and make a difference in our community.

This eight-month program includes an orientation and weekend retreat, seven Saturday training sessions, and a significant community project that participants plan and carry out. During the experience, participants are immersed in a wide variety of topics of interest to Gwinnett residents and future leaders.

These topics include communications, government, media relations, growth issues, education, and criminal justice issues. Sessions have included visiting the state capitol building, police ride-alongs and discussions with county and educational leaders, including community improvement district leaders and representatives of city government. The sessions are designed to immerse participants in issues that affect Gwinnett residents while making participants more aware of the many faces involved in leading Gwinnett.

As a requirement of graduation, students become part of a team of four to six fellow classmates that will implement and complete a community improvement project by program end. The purpose of the team project is threefold:

· To utilize resources and skills as they are acquired.

· To deepen the sense of community among class participants through a group process.

· To provide a practical, tangible and positive benefit that will have a lasting impact in the community.

Many of the community projects have made a lasting impact on Gwinnett. Some examples: senior resource directory, VIP (volunteer interpreter program), community gardens, Norris Lake playground, revitalization of old neighborhoods and many others.

If you would like to become a leader in your community, the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute is accepting applications for the next session. Please visit our web site at www.gnli.org to apply or call Nicole Love 678-377-4137 for more information.

Ellen Gerstein is executive director of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services.