Flagler County government Human Resources Director Pamela Wu has added a feather to her leadership cap, as earlier this month she graduated from the National Association of Counties (NACo) High Performance Leadership Academy.
The program was designed by the Professional Development Academy in partnership with Fortune 1000 executives, public sector leaders, world-renowned academics, and thought leaders including General Colin Powell and Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, according to the National Association of Counties website. Its stated goal is to empower frontline county government professionals with practical, results-oriented leadership skills.
“It is also designed specifically for the unique challenges and opportunities of serving in county government,” County Administrator Jerry Cameron said. “In addition to the webinars and small-group cohort sessions, Ms. Wu was required to complete assignments every day for twelve weeks.”
Wu applied for and received a scholarship to cover the costs of attending the academy.
“It was a privilege to participate in the NACo High Performance Leadership Program,” Wu said. “The program builds upon the same leadership principles we embrace in the Flagler County Leadership Academy.”
Wu, a graduate of the 2020 inaugural class of the county’s academy, was instrumental in the creation of the Flagler County Leadership Academy and serves as Dean of Students. It is open not only to the staff under the administration of the Board of County Commissioners, but also to the staff of other constitutional officers within the county, as well as the school district and municipalities.
Cameron and Dr. Joe Saviak, a management and leadership training consultant, are facilitating the program. The class size is limited to promote and encourage a high level of student engagement.
“Leadership is all about people. As a leader, you must empower your team and work collaboratively with others,” Wu said. “It’s not tools or policies that achieve high performance, it’s the people. Invest in your team.”
The benefit to taxpayers is that participants learn strategies and practices that enhance their effectiveness, efficiency, and the customer service they provide to residents of Flagler County. Changes are already evident.
General Services Director Heidi Petito proved that she embraces the leadership characteristics the organization desires and she was promoted to interim Chief of Staff. She wasn’t the only participant to be promoted as a result of this training. Two Flagler County Sheriff’s Office sergeants – Ryan Emery and Kenny Goncalves – were both promoted to the high level rank of commander.
“You cannot grow people unless you empower them,” Cameron said. “You have to put them in a situation where they are responsible for the outcomes in their areas. It’s all about teamwork, because we are much better when we work together.”
A seminar was held April 23 for the current class, alumnae, and staff representatives from Flagler’s municipalities and constitutional offices. Speakers included: John Delaney, who formerly served as Jacksonville Mayor, was Chief Assistant State Attorney for Florida’s Fourth District, and who held several positions within Florida’s university system; retired U.S. Army Major General Robert Mixon, who served as deputy executive assistant to General Colin Powell; Kristin Hadeed, the young leader of a student-only cleaning company, and TED Talks presenter; and, Shelly Edmonson, valedictorian of the inaugural Flagler County Leadership Academy from the Tax Collector’s Office.