Community leadership development program accepting applications for fall

By Kasey Ashenfelter

The application for the 11th round of the LeadershipPLENTY Institute in Waco is now open. Individuals can apply to be part of a select group to receive leadership training and development in this six-month, cohort-based program.

LeadershipPLENTY is designed to make civic leadership training available to those who are involved in the community and interested in growing as leaders, and to strengthen the skills of those who hold leadership positions. LeadershipPLENTY Institute is underwritten by Waco Foundation and offered at no cost. The deadline to apply is Aug. 13.

“Without leadership representation from all of our community, we’re building a ship that won’t float. Our ideas and plans won’t be fully informed and we won’t reach our full potential,” said Jeremy Everett, executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. “We need leadership voices and decisions to come from across our community, and the LeadershipPLENTY Institute helps us do that.”

To attend LeadershipPLENTY Institute, individuals must first complete an application. Anyone over age 18 can apply. Once applications are reviewed, selected individuals will be notified, and the courses start in September. Participants go through a 10-module curriculum including topics such as managing conflict, leading meetings, building strategic partnerships, communicating for change, and more. Graduates of the program gain valuable skills, deepen their network of friends and partners, and are positioned to lead the Waco area into the future.

LeadershipPLENTY Institute – February 2020

“The Community Visioning Project identified so many great hopes and dreams that this communityhad for itself,” said Kris Kaiser Olson, community leader and member of the Today’s Action Tomorrow’s Leaders steering committee. “One of those hopes was for a much larger and much more diverse pool of people who could serve in a variety of leadership positions in the Waco area — everything from elected offices, to appointed commissions, to nonprofit boards of directors, to heading up neighborhood groups, and so on.

“Waco Foundation volunteered to take responsibility for coordinating this leadership development work and support the LeadershipPLENTY Institute, Olson said. “The graduates are among some of the finest leaders in Waco.”

LeadershipPLENTY Institute offers accessible leadership training and skills to develop and broaden our community’s network of leaders. “As a LeadershipPLENTY graduate, I know firsthand how the skills and relationship I gained from the program can have a direct impact on a person’s leadership skills and roles,” said City Council Member Hector Sabido. “Now, in my role on City Council, I know we need to support and foster leadership voices from all parts of the Waco community — LeadershipPLENTY is the guide to help us do that.”

To apply or to nominate someone today visit

Kasey Ashenfelter is part of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and coordinator of The LeadershipPLENTY Institute – Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Books Matter: Hector Sabido

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here

By Amanda Wunder

 City Councilman Hector Sabido realizes the crucial role of books in our society and the impact even one book can have on someone’s life or career.

“I’ve always had an interest in politics,” Sabido said. “It’s always intrigued me to see how the political process has played out throughout our country.”

Sabido wonders if perhaps his interest in politics stemmed from his favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, which he first read in his ninth grade English class.

“From the very moment that I read this book, I fell in love with it,” Sabido said. 

He discussed the obvious social injustice in Harper Lee’s book but also praised the fact that good triumphs. 

“I want to live in a community, in a society, where we see that good in people…We know that even though we might make decisions or stand up for things that might not be popular today, but we do it because we know it’s the right thing to do,” Sabido said. 

According to Sabido, the universal message of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is that there should be justice and equality for all.

“Just when I think we live in a society where we think we might have racism under control, something happens that reminds me we have some growth to do,” Sabido said. “And reading this book, and reading through the end, it gives me some type of hope that eventually we’re going to get there…It’s all about what’s inside of us, what makes us human.”

Sabido emphasized the importance of inspiring a love of reading in children, calling it “the basic foundation of an education.” He suggested exposing babies to reading, even at the infant stage. 

“I think we need to bring back the culture where it’s OK to enjoy reading,” Sabido said. 

He recommended Wacoans start with reading the newspaper, encouraging library memberships and pushing literacy not only with children but also with adults. 

“Our world is full of books,” Sabido said. “It’s finding something you enjoy reading. I think that’s the key.”