Leadership Marshfield honors class of 2022
By Mike Warren
MARSHFIELD – With its April 21 graduation ceremonies at Holiday Inn, the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s “Leadership Marshfield” program honored the class of 2022, and also celebrated a milestone.
The latest graduates – 16 in all – represent the program’s 30th class since the annual program began in 1993.
“It’s not over tonight”, 2004 graduate and Leadership Council Chair Kim Vrana told the latest class. “You’re never done learning about leadership. You develop an appreciation of what it takes to be a leader, and how you can apply these principals in your personal life and as a leader in our community.”
Leadership Marshfield’s philosophy has four main goals: identify and develop current and future leaders, acquaint them with community needs and problems, enable them to be better prepared to face the issues which confront our community’s future, and prepare and challenge graduates to become involved.
Each Leadership Marshfield class gets divided up into groups of four or five, and during the program’s eight-month course from September to April, those groups identify a need and adopt a community service project based on that need.
This year’s class is either continuing, revitalizing, or reinventing past or existing Leadership Marshfield service projects. They are Mike’s Run held each June, the Lucille Wolf Memorial Community Garden at Central & Arnold, The CatTale Project along Veterans Parkway and the Wine & Beer Downtown Walk in May.
Since the program’s inception in 1992, more than 650 Leadership Marshfield graduates have developed and coordinated over 100 community service projects or events. Among those graduates is retired MACCI program director, and this year’s Leadership Marshfield Alumnus of the Year, Debbie Bauer.
“I never considered myself a leader in my profession, but someone just doing my job”, Bauer said during her keynote address to this year’s graduating class. “My goal was always to make other people shine and be happy. Whether it was coworkers, volunteers, or businesses, my job was to make them feel good about their accomplishments. I always believed in putting others first. And whatever was asked of me, I took on a challenge and made it successful, most of the time.”
Bauer, who spent 28 years with the Marshfield Chamber, went on to describe her leadership style as empathetic.
“I truly care about people, and that was and still is a priority”, Bauer added. “I took the time to listen, to be understanding, to help in any way I could, and along the way make sure we had a heck of a lot of fun, while accomplishing a lot. Whatever kind of leader you are, I challenge you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Don’t get caught up in the title. Leadership is not a title. It is an action and example. I encourage you to be a doer. Be a giver. Be compassionate. Be a sounding board. Be an influencer. Be that leader someone else wants to be like.”
Bauer is a 1996 graduate of Leadership Marshfield, which will start recruiting the next class in a few months. Participants are usually sponsored by their employers. The program starts with a two-day retreat in September, followed by participant’s commitment to one day per month learning about the community’s education, economic development, health care, local government, public safety, and quality of life.