20 residents will be selected for free training course on adaptive leadership

SOMERVILLE –Applications are now available for the second training course of the Somerville Academy for Innovative Leadership (SAIL), the first adaptive leadership training program offered to residents by a U.S. city, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced this week. SAIL is based on The Art and Practice of Public Leadership, an intensive course on adaptive leadership led by leadership expert Dr. Hugh O’Doherty of Harvard University and Cambridge Leadership Associates, which has offered similar training to leading companies, nonprofits and government entities including Google, Microsoft, the U.S. Dept. of Justice and the Knight Foundation. In Somerville, SAIL is offered as a way to encourage and empower more residents to be effective leaders in the community.
“I have learned in my time as Mayor that our greatest successes result not from City officials working alone, but in concert and with leadership from the people in the community,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We want to empower residents to become involved and to lead, and provide a boost to the nonprofits that do so much for our city, which is why we’re offering them training in the same adaptive leadership skills used by the most successful organizations—both public and private—in the nation.”

The six-session course is free and open to all Somerville residents or employees of nonprofits based in Somerville that serve Somerville. Based upon a demonstrated interest in community engagement and leadership, 20 participants will be selected. Upon completion of the program, Mayor Curtatone will award participants with a certificate at a special ceremony to recognize their achievement. The course is free, but in exchange for this leadership training, the City asks that participants give back 30 hours of community engagement of their choice. Members of the first SAIL class offered in 2013 have used their 30 hours in a variety of ways, including joining City boards and commissions, volunteering with organizations that serve Somerville, and lending valuable professional skills to City projects.
Dr. O’Doherty, a Senior Associate at Cambridge Leadership Associates, teaches leadership at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, and has also taught leadership at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the McGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and the University of Maryland. Also an expert in conflict resolution, he directed the Inter-Group Relations Project in his native Ireland where he brought together political and community leaders together to establish protocols for political dialog, and he has addressed the United Nations Global Forum on Re-Inventing Government.
“Adaptive leadership is a quite radical idea, because it doesn’t rely on an authority figure to address an issue. Instead, all stakeholders get involved and share responsibility for reaching a decision,” explained O’Doherty. “The approach also offers a framework for identifying and addressing the root cause of an issue – something we call an adaptive challenge.”

Persons interested in boosting their leadership skills and taking a more active role in the community are encouraged to apply for the program. To apply for SAIL, please visit Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, May 20. For additional information, please contact Meghann Ackerman at 617-625-6600 ext. 2120 or

SAIL will take place on two Saturdays (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) and four consecutive Wednesday evenings (6:30-9 p.m.) from May 23 to June 27, 2015. To fully benefit from the program, the City asks that participants commit to attending all sessions.

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