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Modern Leadership is the topic of interest at a number of conferences and workshops.  Some workshops relate to career tactics to retain employment in these difficult economic times.  Other workshops relate to building a tradition of learning where leaders and the public interface.  Still other workshops deal with specialized cross-cultural training for international leaders. 

Motivation Workshop
     Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, is hosting a Wednesday 4 March 2009 workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Krasa Center with Bill Bartlett, president and owner of Corporate Stategies and Solutions of Naperville, speaking on "Presenting Yourself with Impact."  The talk will be about business image and presentation of a leader as a professional.  He wants leaders to be proactive and make a list of ten questions that send a message to the public that a leader is prepared with knowledge and energy.  As a business coach, Bartlett advises leaders to focus on body language, tonality, and self presentation.  This advice is practical for all leaders all the time.  It may also be significant for leaders who are victims of the economic turndown. 
     "With or without a job you should be networking," advises Joy Maguire-Dooley, Lisle Township director of adult services.  "Tell people you are there for them anytime they need you, and ask if they know anyone who works at one of your target companies," which are the companies you would like to work for in case you are terminated in these difficult financial times.  Most leaders find jobs today through networking, using their referral base and working their six degrees of separation.  Networking includes everything from formal groups to a family reunion.  Dooley not only suggest targeting companies a leader would like to work for, but also the selection of a target for employment date four months out, and posting that date on the family refrigerator.  "You are 76 percent more likely to get a job by that date if you write it down," she said.  
     United States citizens living or working in DuPage County, Illinois, may qualify for a grant-funded program at WorkNet DuPage Career Center in Lisle.  The career center, at 2525 Cabot Drive, Suite 302, Lisle, offers a five-day job-search boot camp at no charge if a personal qualifies.  Call (630) 955-2030 or visit www.workdupage.org.  Other States and municipalities offer opportunities for employment and job retention as part of their social service system.  (Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois, March 5, 2009).

Religious Education Congress
     The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress has a 50 year history of leadership training and is the largest event of its kind in the world.  It is sponsored by the Catholic Church's local Archdiocese of Los Angeles' Office of Religious Education.  The meeting draws leaders and potential leaders from across the country and around the globe.  In 1956, only 500 teachers and catechists came to a high school auditorium in Los Angeles, but by 2008 the number was up to 40,000 participants.  Although the conference is sponsored by a Catholic organization, people of all faiths are welcome, according to Paulette Smith, the Congress Event Coordinator.   Further, leaders in all sorts of ministries attend the Congress, such as those in bereavement ministry, liturgical ministry, and other educational ministries.
     The Religious Education Congress is held annually during the Spring.  Planners have been challenged by the growing number of participants, and the diversity of those who attend the Congress.  Not only are the attending leaders more diverse among themselves, but expectations are different.  Conference organizers continually update their presentations to develop creative ways to meet the needs of those who attend, and to keep participants coming back for more every year.  This is more of a challenge because Los Angeles is one of the most diverse archdioceses in the United States.  Leaders who attend have a wide array of attitudes, including ethnic, racial and generational issues.  For example, in an effort to cater to young leaders, the Congress offers Youth Day on the first day of the four-day event.  Youth day draws 15,000 young leaders in grades nine through twelve, and includes a variety of workshops, rallies, and prayer experiences.  In 2008, a unique vocations program was added, which offered young leaders a chance to personallly dialogue with Cardinal Mahony and the Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishops on the subject of careers and vocations.  (Nancy Mann Jackson, "Religious Education Congress: Building a Tradition of Learning," SMERF Meetings Journal 11 [Winter 2009]: 18).

Cross-Cultural Training for International Leaders
     Church leaders in the United States are becoming more and more multicultural.  It is not necessary to leave the continental United States for leaders to feel the demand for a cross-cultural orientation.  Certainly, the Catholic Church in the United States attempts to live out a "Catholic" culture, centered on Jesus Christ.  However, this goal is expressed in a variety of different forms, which are frequently referred to as "cultures."
     The Catholic Church and the presbyterate in the United States are becoming more multicultural, but we have always had a diverse priesthood in the United States.  The book International Priests in America: Challenges and Opportunities by Dean R. Hoge and Aniedi Okure, O.P., indicates that the 1940s and 1950s were the only decades in the United States when there were enough "native born priests to serve its parishes." 
     The seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago has 187 students, many of whom are internation volunteers for the service of this archdiocese.  They bring talents and views that we hope will enegize the archdiocese.  New international students take two courses that address verbal patterns, non-verbal communication, gender communication styles, family values, time and space, social movements, work ethics, religious diversity, humor, U.S. values, as well as cultural aspects of marriage, family grief and bereavement.  In additon, an internship in a parish with an experienced pastor helps these new leaders understand more about their own ministerial strengths and need for growth. 
     Although the seminary offers significant training for international students with a focus on practical and ministerial skills, there is much that the international students can teach the rest of the community as well.  "The most important lesson I learn on a daily basis can be simply stated as:  'International priests help universalize and revitalize American Catholicism', " says Dr. McAtee, Assistant Academic Dean at the seminary.  (Christopher J. McAtee, "Cross-Cultural Training for International Students," The Bridge [Fall 2008-Winter 2009]: 18).

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