Leadership Hendricks County (LHC) is a not-for-profit group created in August 1992 to give a selected group of citizens the background and inside information it needs to take on effective roles of leadership in the Hendricks County community. The concept of a broad-based community leadership development program in Hendricks County was brought about by the efforts of the Agriculture Advisory Council of the Hendricks County Cooperative Extension Service as they began to develop a training program for the agriculture community. In their research, the need to develop a broader base of community leadership opportunities emerged.
Representative leaders from various walks of life and geographic areas of Hendricks County were invited to a discussion meeting to evaluate the perceived needs identified by the Ag Council. With the enthusiastic response, the Leadership Hendricks County Steering Committee was formed to establish a strong year-long curriculum of leadership development for Hendricks County.
In January 1993, under the guidance of Rick Thomas, Chairperson of the LHC Steering Committee, and Gary T. Emsweller, CED with Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, the first class of Leadership Hendricks County was selected to participate in a series of day-long seminars and programs developed to enhance their leadership skills and knowledge of Hendricks County’s growing needs and opportunities. In April of that year, they became Incorporated with a 501(C)(3) classification. They established: The mission of Leadership Hendricks County is to seek, prepare, involve and sustain leaders from diverse backgrounds who are committed to address community and countywide challenges.
In October 1994, Leadership Hendricks County moved to the next level with the hiring of Suzanne Whicker as part-time Executive Director. Suzanne served in that position until 2012. As demand for LHC’s programs has changed, the Board has accommodated. LHC’s Board of Directors determined that the county’s youth would benefit from a similar program. Youth Leadership Hendricks County (YLHC) began its first class in August 1998. The first YLHC class, representing 28 sophomores from all six of the county’s school corporations graduated in April 1999. A part-time Administrative Assistant was added in 2007. And at times, the staff has included a part-time Program Administrator. Youth Encouraging Philanthropy, ran from 2007 to 2012, allowing YLHC participants to bring what they learned back to their high schools and communities.
To date, Leadership Hendricks County has trained over 500 adults and over 600 youth leaders. LHC has continued to educate groups of local leaders to be more acutely attuned to the county’s problems, needs, opportunities and resources. Program graduates bring the community sharper leadership skills, energies focused on solving specific problems, and a network of associates with the talents and abilities to create a blueprint for Hendricks County’s future.