Decades of service, nearly 3,000 participants, and a countless number of positive impacts in our community -- Leadership South Bend|Mishawaka is celebrating 45 years! 

Founded in 1974, Leadership South Bend|Mishawaka is Indiana’s oldest community leadership development program! 

For 42 years, Leadership South Bend|Mishawaka operated as an affiliate program of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce (now the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce), making the transition to a 501c3 in November 2015. An independent nonprofit organization for the past three years, Leadership is continuing to plant and nurture the seeds of servant leadership in our community through our programming—Youth Leadership, Emerge, and the Signature Leadership Program. Our goal is to help individuals learn about themselves, find their passion, and move to action as servant leaders in our community—as they combine their skillset with our community’s strengths and challenges. 

Did you know?  

  • Youth Leadership was the direct result of Signature Class 19 uniting forces to inspire servant leadership in local high school students. The program design, initial funding, and even coordinator recruitment were items tackled by this class! Without their incredible research and dedication, we would not have been able to celebrate Youth Leadership’s 25th Anniversary just last year. To date, 1,056 students have graduated from this program.  
  • DTSB, Inc came from Signature Class 23! A project team from shared the same vision for a more vibrant, economically sound and stable downtown. This team wrote and pitched the idea of a South Bend-Downtown Strategic Partnership to the South Bend Common Council and out of this adopted two-year partnership, Downtowns South Bend (DTSB), Inc was born. Project team members then served as board members for the new organization for many years. 
  • A project team from Youth Leadership Class 21 and Signature Class 40 combined to create and install a library stocked with books and two computers at El Campito, a bilingual child development center in South Bend. 

We have 45 years of impact and stories to tell. Most of these revolve around Servant Leadership, our philosophical cornerstone – which is essentially doing the right thing and being a good, honest, ethical leader because it’s the RIGHT thing to do. Moving to ACTION and bringing the best out in others because it is truly the most effective form of leadership.  

The interesting and unintentional double-edge sword this creates is that many people have moved to action, made incredible positive impacts in their social circles, in our communities, and even larger! However, they did so not for the accolades or external reward but because they were moved to act and improve our community.   

The impact of Leadership South Bend|Mishawaka’s programing and participants runs deep in our community. Won’t you join me this year as we celebrate 45 years of living out our motto: A better you. A better community.