Evidence suggests that the role of civic infrastructure cannot be overlooked. Cities with collaborative, multidisciplinary networks demonstrate stronger economic resilience than their peers, and possess healthier citizens and safer neighborhoods. At the helm of civic infrastructure are effective leaders – the decision-makers and stakeholders who can effectively influence policy and drive change. In order to compete for resources, adapt to shifting environments, and effect sustainable change, the South Coast must strengthen its civic infrastructure through a sustained investment in the development of a diverse leadership pipeline.

Leadership SouthCoast was founded in 2004 by a group of local business and civic leaders who recognized the significance of effective leadership to a community’s vibrancy. They set out to develop a community leadership program that could cultivate a diverse network of regional leaders who are prepared and motivated to strengthen and improve the region. Several of the founders were graduates of community leadership programs in other states and experienced the benefits of the model for themselves and their organizations. Leadership SouthCoast has graduated twelve cohorts totaling over 285 alumni. Close to 100 area organizations representing the public, private, and non-profit sectors have sponsored employees to participate in the program.