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.
After a few years of great success and interest in the Program from other communities, the Chambers of Commerce of Foster City and then Burlingame, and then the Town of Hillsborough became co-sponsors of the Program (hence today’s name Leadership – San Mateo – Foster City – Burlingame -Hillsborough) and the Program was expanded to include both participants from all four communities and a focus on all four communities. All four cities are now financial co-sponsors of the program.
Throughout its 26 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. The Program has expanded to 10 Program Days and two Leadership Skills Days. The Program Days vary in content each year but are devoted to Education; Business and Economic Development; Planning, Housing and Transportation; Arts, Culture and Media; Human Services; Fire and Emergency Services; the Environment; Law Enforcement and the Judiciary; Health; and Government.
The Program continues to maintain its vitality due to the Leadership Advisory Board, the Curriculum Committee, the Board’s important operating committees (Fund Development, Finance, Selection Committee and Alumni Engagement), the Program Day sponsors, leaders across the community who as speakers are dedicated to making each Program Day the best, and the over 800 graduates whose connections to one another, to Leadership and to their communities continue.