Twitter alerts me to a new program, Leadership South Dakota, designed "to attract engaged citizens from across the state, then provide them with the background, unique experiences and insights necessary to assume leadership positions at the community, state and national levels." Leadership South Dakota sounds very much like a state-level version of Leadership Madison and other local leadership classes.
The folks behind Leadership South Dakota also look very much like what we see at the local level: members of the power elites happily herding up-and-comers into their proper pens. Staffing Leadership South Dakota are GOP/education establishment pals Rick Melmer and Tom Oster. Testimonializing for Leadership South Dakota is John Thune financier Jeff Erickson. Sponsoring the program are the usual characters: Sanford Health, First Premier Bank, Daktronics, Lawrence & Schiller, the Ramkota....
The Leadership South Dakota application asks applicants to "Describe the most notable opportunity and most significant threat facing South Dakota today." They provide three lines for a response.
Our greatest opportunity to recruit young people of diverse views to challenge our greatest threat, a monolithic and insular political culture.
Now if I can just come up with $3,000....
I'd like for Leadership South Dakota to surprise me by gathering and encouraging a diverse set of leaders who would challenge the established order that most of the sponsors represent. I hope they'll reach beyond their circle of usual suspects and foster new leaders who maybe don't have access to $50 to apply, let alone $3,000 to participate, or who don't have well-to-do employers willing to foot that bill, the additional travel expenses, and the inconvenience of replacement workers while their leaders-in-training are off getting experiences, skills, and access.
Applications are due May 30. The program starts September 11 in Brookings, hopscotches monthly to Rapid City, Pierre, Kyle, Sioux Falls, and Aberdeen, then graduates its fresh leaders in April at Chamberlain.