GREENSBORO, N.C. — Successfully running for public office usually requires a well-developed strategy.
The NC Institute of Political Leadership helps aspiring public service leaders develop the skills necessary to work on behalf of a community.
“We are the oldest and the only nonpartisan leadership program in the state for people who are interested in public service and that can be elected or appointed, either way,” executive director Ross Harris said.
For 11 weekends, fellows from different backgrounds and affiliations learn how to develop a campaign plan and how to govern.
“It definitely has sparked some interest maybe in the future to run, but even if I don’t I at least have that education that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else,” current fellow Brittany Carroll said.
Harris says a key part of teaching the fellows how to become effective policy makers is by teaching them how to become skilled listeners.
“I tell students you don't have to agree with the person sitting across from you but respect their journey, understand how they got there,” Harris said.
This is IOPL’s 33rd year of operation.
Harris credits that longevity to great partners, including the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
It takes $6,500 to educate a student.
For several years, The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro has provided $5,000 to educate a student from Guilford County.
Jose Oliva was that student in the fall of 2015.
Raised in Guatemala, he moved to Guilford County in 2011 without knowing how to speak English.
“I definitely had big ambitions, but very little resources to make those dreams come true, so it takes people that are engaged with the Community Foundation to make people like me able to go through programs like IOPL,” he said.
Spring 2019 is IOPL’s 60th class.
It’s the first class in IOPL history that is made up of all women.
There was a scheduling conflict with the men who initially enrolled.