Calling for Local Leaders

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This quote comes from Peter Drucker, a famous thinker and writer who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2002.

Drucker predicted the rise of volunteering and nonprofits in American and maintained that Americans would find fulfillment in it rather than simply in their place of work. In Oklahoma, this is certainly true, with so many organizations working for the betterment of their communities.

One Oklahoma non-profit that is doing yeomen’s work in rural communities across our great state is the Oklahoma Community Institute. OCI was created in 1995 to focus on providing assistance to rural communities who are looking for ways to help themselves. OCI’s purpose, as stated by their mission statement, is “to be a catalyst that enables and encourages Oklahoma citizens to improve their communities.”

One avenue by which OCI achieves their incredibly bold and important mission is by annually putting on “The Citizens Academy.” The mission of The Citizens Academy is to give local residents the skills, information and resources needed to build and sustain healthy Oklahoma communities, and is perfect for individuals who have a passion for the future of their communities and want to see the local community maintain or improve its quality of life. The Citizens Academy is open to any Oklahoma citizen and, to date, has graduated more than 180 individuals from nearly 65 communities across our great state.

OCI’s Citizens Academy is held over a six-month period, meeting once a month for a total of six sessions. Sessions cover topics including “Foundations of Community Leadership,” “Leading Effective Community Teams,” “Community Assessment and Planning,” and “Economic Development and Tourism.” Cities slated to host this year’s sessions include Claremore, Ponca City, Weatherford, Alva, Oklahoma City and Quartz Mountain State Park.

I would like to encourage anyone interested in the long-term sustainability of their community, or those interested in becoming a community leader, to send in their applications for The Citizens Academy by Sept. 17. To apply, contact Oklahoma Community Institute Director of Programs Stephanie Ronck at or at (405) 208-8883. The application is available online at

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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