Ashley Mudd, Executive Director of the Leadership Institute of Acadiana, joined Discover Lafayette to discuss her mission to build leaders in our community. Her quest is to ensure that everyone, regardless of background or industry, has the opportunity and support needed to find their voice and passion as a community leader.
The Leadership Institute of Acadiana ("LIA") is the organization that hosts the Leadership Lafayette and Lafayette Junior Leadership programs, as well as other programs to engage people who are unable to commit to a year of engagement.
Since 1987, Leadership Lafayette operated under the auspices of the former Lafayette Chamber of Commerce which is now known as One Acadiana. Ashley credited former Chamber President Rob Guidry for having the foresight to start the program after hearing of it in his travels networking with other chamber execs around the U. S. The first class, officially named "Class One," calls themselves the "premier class." Many prominent leaders, such as Joey Durel, former Parish President of Lafayette Parish, credit Leadership Lafayette for spurring them onto greater civic and government engagement. (Read more about his story here.)
Joey Durel, former Lafayette City-Parish President credits Leadership Lafayette for his desire to run for mayor. Once his children were transitioning out of their home, Joey had more time for civic engagement and made the leap into elected office.
According to the organization's website, "At LIA, our goal is to provide experiential, collaborative leadership training programs and initiatives that offer local leaders access to the skills, knowledge and ongoing support they need to impact our community and influence the future of our region.' In practice they do this and so much more; they immerse program participants in eleven sessions during their year of engagement as they learn about our community's opportunities and challenges in education, the economy, the non-profit sector, government, incarcerated individuals, and healthcare. People forge lifelong friendships and bring about real change.
Program tuition is $2000 to participate in Leadership Lafayette, yet LIA will provide scholarships up to one-half of tuition for deserving recipients. They encourage participation from all industries, including police officers, teachers, and other fields outside of the stereotypical banker, lawyer, or business owner. Participants of all ages are welcome and encouraged; Ashley stressed that the wider the range of ages and industries, the more successful the class will be in experiencing the full benefit of Leadership Lafayette.
Past Leadership Lafayette graduates, such as Veronica Williams, Clerk of the Lafayette City and Parish Councils, assist in identifying boards and commissions that willing volunteers can join. LIA actively works to help people engage in civic endeavors and make a difference in the community.
SIMSOC ("Simulated Society") is a standard-bearer of the Leadership Lafayette experience. SIMSOC is a simulation of real society where participants learn the issues and challenges of creating sustainable societies and communities. At times it can be humorous as people of higher socioeconomic status are placed in a simulated place of low ranking in a room with no air conditioning as they navigate methods of survival. Brent Henley of The Pyramid Group has facilitated SIMSOC since the beginning of the program and still pulls out great results as participants learn empathy and leadership skills from the exercise.
Brent Henley of the Pyramid Group leading SIMSOC during Leadership Lafayette's program on April 9, 2021, at Wonderland Performing Arts in Lafayette.
LIA also offers programming for people who are no...