In 1989, a small group of leaders from the San Mateo Chamber of Commerce and the City of San Mateo began formulating the idea of establishing a Leadership Program in San Mateo with the goals of equipping current and potential leaders with a broad base of knowledge about all aspects of community and civic life in San Mateo and providing them with enhanced leadership skills to make a difference in the community. The Program, that evolved, although uniquely San Mateo, was modeled after Leadership Programs across the country.
It was determined that Leadership San Mateo would be under the umbrella of the San Mateo Chamber of Commerce whose leaders, working with the City, formed a 24 member Leadership Advisory Board comprised of community leaders from the business, civic, non-profit, and governmental sectors in San Mateo. With the Chamber’s staff support and initial financial support from the City of San Mateo, the Board launched the San Mateo Leadership Program in the fall of 1990. Twenty participants were chosen for the first class. After attending 10 monthly Program Days delving into all aspects of the community and participating in skill-building exercises, the participants graduated as the Class of 1991 in June.
Throughout its 30 year history, the Program’s mission has remained constant—to increase knowledge of the community including its leaders, successes, and challenges, and to develop/enhance leadership skills. There have been 30-36 members of each Class since the early years drawn from business, civic organizations, non-profit agencies, and government.