Advocate's Journal

A Perspective from the Chair of Leadership Columbia

By Nick Haigler

Leadership Columbia (LC) Class of 2015, comprised of 60 existing and emerging leaders with the Columbia area, kicked off their year in August with orientation at Edventure and in September with a class retreat at Camp Kinard in Batesburg.  From these incredible experiences, the class has chosen and developed their class project, “Shared Streets”.  The goal of the project, as defined by the class, is to revitalize transit friendly corridors and provide bike accessible resources for family, visitor, and commuting activities in order to foster the growth of a healthier, cleaner, and safer Columbia.  Among the many features of “Shared Streets” are sharrow signals installed on Lady Street between Main Street and Huger Street, an app with features to promote diverse transit options and points of interest-connecting The Vista, Main Street, Five Points and the University, street-scaping on the Lincoln Street Tunnel on the Vista Greenway, a comprehensive marketing campaign to include public relations, social media, education and awareness components, and a kickoff event held in April 2015 to introduce and celebrate the project.

 In addition to the project, the Class of 2015 experienced Political Systems Day on October 14th, which included an examination of the political structure in South Carolina, the balance of the two party system, lunch with Congressman Joe Wilson, and interactive legislative and lobbying panel discussions.  On November 11th, the class experienced Arts & Culture Day, which included a civil rights discussion with Congressman James Clyburn, and presentations by leaders from the Columbia Museum of Art, Historic Columbia, Music Farm, and the Columbia City Ballet.  The class day ended with a discussion of the new culture of reality television and an interactive improve session at Trustus Theatre.  The Class of 2015 is certainly off to an excellent start, both with “Shared Streets” and their involvement and dedication to each class day.  The Class of 2015 is sure to challenge its predecessors for the title of “Best Class Ever”.

 LC provides existing and emerging leaders in Columbia with opportunities to enhance their civic knowledge and network.  For more than 40 years the program has helped participants better understand how our community works, build relationships with the region’s current and future leaders and become inspired to focus their talents in a way that will best serve the community.  LC participants develop the skills necessary to assume leadership roles and also become exposed to opportunities for community involvement.  For more information, or to apply to be part of the Class of 2016, please visit