Reflections on Leadership Lancaster – The Finale

May 27, 2016

As a proud member of the Leadership Lancaster Core Class of 2016, I will be posting periodic updates of my experiences in the program. Learn more about Leadership Lancaster at or feel free to contact me directly with any questions you may have.

Leadership Lancaster Graduation

Last week I “walked” at our Leadership Lancaster Core Class of 2016 graduation. It was a great event that highlighted everything that makes Leadership Lancaster a special experience that I will carry with me. Throughout the program, I met passionate members of the community who care about Lancaster and work hard to make it a better place to live and work. I also observed many aspects of the County that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about or experienced.

For more insights into my experience, check out my earlier posts in the series:

Reflections on Leadership Lancaster – About One Month In

Reflections on Leadership Lancaster – Part Two

Finally, here’s a summary of the final sessions of the program:

Public Education – This session explored education in Lancaster County from a number of locations and perspectives. We started the day at Garden Spot High School in New Holland where we learned about some of the pressing issues facing K-12 education, including budgetary constraints, the changing landscape of public education and the pros and cons of standardized testing. Then we traveled to the Lancaster County Career & Technology Center for a panel discussion from Senator Ryan Aument, Senator Lloyd Smucker, B. Keith Yohn of the CTC, Dr. Michele Balliet, Superintendent of Elizabethtown Area School District, and Dr. Robert Hollister, Superintendent of Eastern Lancaster County School District. We finished off the day at J.P. McCaskey High School, where we received a tour of the school from students and heard perspectives from Superintendent of the School District of Lancaster Dr. Damaris Rau and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera.

Law and Justice – Given my profession, I was interested to see how this day played out. The day began at the Lancaster County Prison, where we had a tour of the facility and a K-9 demonstration. We spent the rest of the day at the Lancaster County Courthouse learning about the judicial system from the perspective of law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and a victim of a crime. Hearing directly from the stakeholders in the process, particularly the victim of a crime and the impact it has had on her life, was an invaluable experience and unfortunately highlighted a perspective which is often overlooked.

Although there was a small portion of the day that focused on the civil justice system, the majority focused on the criminal system. In the afternoon, we had an exercise where we role-played various sentencing hearing scenarios before President Judge Dennis E. Reinaker of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County.

CAT Presentations – On the first day of Leadership Lancaster, we were put into small groups called Community Action Teams (CAT), each focusing on an area of public interest. Our team’s focus was employment training and workforce readiness. Other projects focused on inclusion, education, environment, hunger, community engagement, mental health and substance abuse. This session was the culmination of eight months of work on our project, which sought to identify and address a need in Lancaster County relating to employment training and workforce readiness. Each team presented their project in front of a panel of non-profit experts and received constructive feedback on the potential implementation of the project.

Takeaways – The last nine months have been an incredible experience. It was a great way to experience all that Lancaster County has to offer, however for me, the best part was meeting all of the people who are passionate about Lancaster County, including the facilitators of the program, Kate Zimmerman (Program Director) and Deb Rohrer (Executive Director), all of the members of the Core Class of 2016, and finally all of the members of local organizations and government representatives that support Leadership Lancaster and allowed us all to have this experience.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs.

Congratulations to Matt from everyone at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP.  The Leadership Lancaster program is an experience that requires a high level of commitment and effort from the participants.  Matt’s dedication and the insight he gained through his participation is an inspiration to all of us to work even harder to support the needs of Lancaster County through community leadership.  Visit the Leadership Lancaster website for more information about the program.