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Honoring 30 years of Leadership

Celebration includes awards for program's key players, donation of five AEDs for use in Lake Oswego parks

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEVI SIM PHOTOGRAPHY - Bill Korach (from left), Dee Denton, Paul Graham and Marci Nemhouser were honored Saturday by the Chamber of Commerce for playing key roles in the Leadership Lake Oswego program. For 30 years, Leadership Lake Oswego has worked to build relationships and forge connections between community-oriented leaders who can help shape and direct the future of Lake Oswego. On Saturday, more than 100 graduates of the program — from police officers and firefighters to city and school district officials, business owners and more — gathered in Foothills Park to celebrate its success.

“Discovering and developing emerging leaders is the essential work of every community,” said Keith Dickerson, executive director of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the program. "We’ve sought to create a network for 23 to 33 leaders every year from people in various areas. They’ve come from the city, schools, businesses, corporations, civic and neighborhood associations and faith-based organizations.”

In addition to a two-day retreat, participants in Leadership Lake Oswego meet one day a month from October to June, exploring a variety of topics that range from leadership styles, human relations and strategic planning to problem solving and servant leadership.

Leadership Lake Oswego also serves as an introduction-of-sorts to different facets of life in the city, with days devoted to public safety, the small-business community, arts and culture, and other topics.

Saturday’s gathering was designed as both a tribute to the program’s past and a nod to its continuing impact on Lake Oswego. The Chamber presented its Sexton Award to four people who played key roles in the program’s development — Paul Graham, Dee Denton, Bill Korach and Marci Nemhouser — and the Leadership Class of 2016 donated five portable defibrillators for use in city parks.

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEVI SIM PHOTOGRAPHY - Fire Marshal Gert Zoutendijk (from left), Police Chief Don Johnson and Parks & Rec employee Jamie Inglis thank members of Leadership Lake Oswego for the donation of five AEDs that will be used in city parks.“It’s huge,” said Lake Oswego Fire Marshal Gert Zoutendijk, who joined Lake Oswego Police Chief Don Johnson and Parks & Rec representative Jamie Inglis in accepting the AEDs. All three are also Leadership graduates.

“These five AEDs will be installed at our most visible parks and be available 24 hours a day,” Zoutendijk said. “This is a wonderful gift of life. It’s priceless.”

Six local businesses contributed to the purchase of the AEDs, including OnPoint Community Credit Union, Freeman Motor Company, Academy of Modern Martial Arts, Financial Reserve, Iron Coaching and the Metabolic Research Center.

Saturday was an especially big day for Graham. In addition to receiving the group’s accolades, he also got a chance to savor the success of a program he helped to found 30 years ago when he served as Chamber president.

“Tom Decker (then publisher of the Lake Oswego Review) and Gerry Frank had heard about a leadership program in Salem,” Graham recalled, “and Tom told me, ‘I think this could work in Lake Oswego. We could get more people involved in this city.’

“I thought that if we could educate local people about city processes and give them leadership skills,” he said, “what a resource it would be for this community. When we got support from Dee Denton (then executive director of the Chamber) and her staff, we were off and rolling.”

From the start, Decker, Graham and Denton made sure their prospective city leaders had a diverse background: Business owners, managers, sole proprietors, retailers, attorneys, a doctor, an administrator from Marylhurst University and an elementary school principal were among the first class.

“They bonded, learned a lot and went out to use their skills,” Graham said.

Over the years, Korach and Nemhouser served as lead instructors for the program. Currently, the classes are taught by City Manager Scott Lazenby and LOSD Superintendent Heather Beck — both recent program graduates themselves.

“This is a terrific program that has really given back to the community,” Graham said, a sentiment that was echoed Saturday by recent graduate Christopher Boyer.

Boyer, who has owned the Academy of Modern Martial Arts for 25 years, said he signed up for Leadership Lake Oswego because he wanted to do more for his community.

“The No. 1 takeaway I got from the class was the relationships I’ve formed over the course of a year,” said Boyer. “No. 2 is the opportunity to give back to Lake Oswego. Doing the leadership class was a natural extension after being in business here so long.”

Dickerson noted that there is still space in this year’s program. For more information, contact the Chamber at 503-636-3634.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..