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Leader Valley and the University of Northern Iowa to Cosponsor 2015 Franklin Covey Leader in Me Symposium

WATERLOO & CEDAR FALLS, IOWA –The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and Leader Valley, in partnership with the University of Northern Iowa, announce that the Cedar Valley has been selected as a 2015 Leader in Me Symposium Series site by FranklinCovey. The Leader in Me Symposium will be held April 22-24, 2015 on the UNI Campus. An estimated 400 people are expected at this regional professional learning conference. Attendees will be introduced to the advancements of Cedar Valley schools implementing Leader in Me, FranklinCovey’s whole school education transformation process, which teaches leadership principles to students in K-12 schools and embeds leadership as a core within their school culture.
Leader Valley Director, Melissa Reade, is particularly excited about this opportunity. “We’ve gone through an extensive vetting process to be selected as a Symposium site and we are thrilled for many reasons. This professional learning conference is world class. To be able to host it here in the Cedar Valley is a unique opportunity and honor.”

Symposium participants will learn in a high-powered environment that hosts an impressive lineup of inspirational thought leaders on education leadership topics. Participants will observe students demonstrating their leadership mind-set and skill-set through public speaking, practitioner sessions, talent presentations, and assigned leadership roles. Participants will also visit Leader in Me schools throughout the Cedar Valley to learn first-hand how leadership is infused into all facets of school life, including relationships, environment, curriculum, instruction, systems, and traditions of each school. Lastly, participants will engage in dynamic breakout sessions on developing leadership cultures and building family and community partnerships, as well as providing students with authentic and meaningful leadership opportunities.
CBE Companies CEO and current Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber Board Chair Tom Penaluna accepted a congratulatory call from FranklinCovey’s Sean Covey, during which Penaluna was informed of the Cedar Valley’s selection as a Symposium site. Covey reiterated the significance of the work that Leader Valley is doing to collectively support all of the students and schools in Waterloo-Cedar Falls. Dustin Odham, Leader Valley’s assigned FranklinCovey Education Practice Leader went on to say, “Leader Valley is creating a community unlike any other. The school and community leaders involved in this leadership work are doing it for the right reasons and have the heart and desire to do this well. I leave more inspired every time I visit and I want many more people to have the same opportunity. That is why I fought to ensure this community hosted a Leader in Me Symposium.”
UNI College of Education Dean Dr. Dwight Watson expressed his excitement about the announcement by saying, “It is an honor to host the 2015 Leader in Me Symposium. I have been a fan of Covey’s work since the beginning of my professional career.  I celebrate the fact The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has been transferred into K-12 practices for children and youth because these habits are important elements in their leadership and character development.  Our hope is that the Symposium will showcase how engaged the Cedar Valley is in the work of Leader in Me and that we can perfect what we do by learning from others.”
Reade says, “It is reflection of the great leadership work being done collectively in our Cedar Valley schools. When you consider that the Symposiums are typically held in larger cities like St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, and Brooklyn, FranklinCovey believes we are doing something right. The Symposium provides an opportunity to not only showcase student leadership from the Cedar Falls Schools, Cedar Valley Catholic Schools, and Waterloo Schools, but also highlight our higher-education partnership in this leadership work, as well as bring attention to the Cedar Valley.”

“As we learn more about the preparation process for the Symposium, we are confident there will be ample opportunities for Leader Valley and UNI to synergize with other education and community organizations, as well as Iowa Leader in Me schools outside the Cedar Valley and businesses to make this Symposium one of the best,” said Reade. Hawkeye Community College and CBE Companies have already committed as awareness partners for the upcoming promotions of the Symposium.
Leader in Me has been adopted as a core operating system in 1,500 schools in more than 35 countries, with more than 600,000 students and 50,000 staff having been trained worldwide. Across the Cedar Valley, there are 14 Leader in Me schools, with 6,075 students and 842 educators already trained and embarking on their leadership journey. Within the Waterloo Community School District, Dr. Walter Cunningham Elementary, Fred Becker Elementary, Kittrell Elementary, Orange Elementary, Poyner Elementary, George Washington Carver Academy, and Hoover Middle School are implementing Leader in Me. Cedar Falls Community Schools implementing Leader in Me include North Cedar Elementary, Orchard Hill Elementary, Southdale Elementary, and Lincoln Elementary. Cedar Valley Catholic Schools infusing Leader in Me include Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta Middle School and St. Edwards Elementary.
For more information on the Leader in Me Symposium, visit http://www.theleaderinme.org/events/symposium or http://cedarvalleyalliance.com/cms/220/Leader_Valley.You can also learn more by contacting Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director at (319) 232-1156 or at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

Transformational 7 Habits training offered by the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, in partnership with Cedar Valley Nonprofit Association, is offering 7 Habits Cedar Valley leadership training to their investor/member organizations and the Cedar Valley area. Two separate, 2- day sessions will be held, one session for Cedar Valley businesses and the other for nonprofit organizations.

7 Habits Cedar Valley  is based on the work of Dr. Stephen Covey’s best-seller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Incorporating the techniques taught at the 7 Habits Cedar Valley helps organizations achieve and sustain superior results by increasing the effectiveness of its individual employees. Participants gain hands-on experience, applying sound principles that yield greater productivity, improved communication, strengthened relationships, increased influence, and laser-like focus on critical priorities.  At the request of the Alliance & Chamber, the sessions will be lead by the talented and highly regarded Franklin Covey facilitator, Gary McGuey.

7 Habits Cedar Valley for Business will take place on January 21-22, 2014 from 8:00am – 4:00pm at Windridge, Western Home Communities in Cedar Falls. The cost is $450 per person for Alliance & Chamber investors and $550 for others. A 10% discount is being offered to businesses who register by December 15, 2013.

7 Habits Cedar Valley for Nonprofits will take place on January 23-24, 2014 from 8:00am – 4:00pm at Allen College – Unity Point, Waterloo. The special nonprofit rate is $225 for Alliance & Chamber investors and Cedar Valley Nonprofit Association members. The cost for other nonprofits is $300.  No other discounts apply.

Leader Valley Program Director, Melissa Reade of the Alliance & Chamber points out what a unique opportunity this is for the Cedar Valley as the training has not been offered  locally. She stresses the huge savings available to Cedar Valley employers planning on sending their employees to the sessions. The cost for similar sessions is typically is between $1,700 -$2,200 per person, plus travel expenses to the training location.


“The 7 Habits are transforming Cedar Valley schools and building our business leaders of tomorrow through The Leader in Me. We have the opportunity to create stronger leadership cultures by applying these same principles in the workplace today,” offers Melissa Reade.  She adds, “This training can have the same dramatic impact on organizations and move the needle for employers. We encourage every business and nonprofit to take advantage of this rare opportunity and tremendous value.”

Registration can be made through the end of December on the Alliance & Chamber website at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com/7habitscedarvalley  or by calling 319-232-1156.

Sponsors include Advanced Systems, Allen College – Unity Point, CUNA Mutual Foundation, and Western Home Communities.

7 Habits Cedar Valley is brought to this area by the Leader Valley initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. Leader Valley is a conduit for business and education to collaborate and provide leadership and soft skill development opportunities, enhancing our workforce, and moving the Cedar Valley economy forward.

More information on 7 Habits Cedar Valley and other ways Leader Valley is impacting the Cedar Valley can be found on the Alliance & Chamber website or by contacting Program Director, Melissa Reade by email at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com.



Cedar Valley’s CUNA Mutual Group and Veridian Credit Union collaborate, fund implementation of Leader in Me in two area middle schools

Cedar Valley of Iowa – Two regional financial services organizations are collaborating to help ensure an effective leadership development initiative reaches the students of two more Cedar Valley area schools. CUNA Mutual Group and Veridian Credit Union have pledged to contribute a total of $105,000 to the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber’s Leader Valley initiative to further implement The Leader in Me program

The Leader in Me builds valuable 21st century personal skills that correlate to success in education and the workplace.  As students put into practice the principles of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, they become more self-confident and take ownership for their lives. Schools where The Leader in Me is implemented successfully see higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems, and increased engagement among teachers and parents.

CUNA Mutual Group, through its foundation, committed $75,000 to sponsor implementation of The Leader in Me at George Washington Carver Academy Middle School and Kittrell Elementary, both in Waterloo, Iowa. Veridian Credit Union committed $30,000 to Kittrell Elementary.   Veridian also participates with Kittrell Elementary in the Partners in Education program. The sum will be distributed over a three year term. Initially, the gift will provide extensive training and materials to the staff and educators at these sponsored schools.

The addition of Kittrell and Carver the total number of participating schools in the Cedar Valley is currently 14, with an anticipated impact of 6075 students and 842 educators during the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. This number represents more than one third of total students and educators in the Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Cedar Valley Catholic Schools.

“At Veridian Credit Union, we believe that everyone is a leader,” said Jean Trainor, Veridian Credit Union’s CEO and Chief Inclusion Officer. “The Leader In Me program demonstrates that same belief and benefits our entire community as much as it does the students who participate.” Reid Koenig, Vice President of CUNA Mutual Group adds, “When one interacts with students who have been impacted by The Leader in Me, you quickly realize the effect the program is already having in transforming their lives. Our communities and businesses will reap the benefit of building great citizens and leaders for years to come.”

Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is encouraged by the additional participation of the business community, “One of the Alliance & Chamber’s primary goals is to develop a strong, highly talented and skilled workforce to help businesses of all sizes grow and prosper in the Cedar Valley. This significant investment by two of the Cedar Valley’s most engaged and visionary businesses, underscores the recognized value and effectiveness of the early results from The Leader in Me initiative. It is very important that businesses of all sizes, as well as individuals and other organizations join Veridian Credit Union, CUNA Mutual Group, and CBE Companies as Leader Valley sponsors. It is only through gifts like these that it will be possible to expand The Leader in Me throughout the region.”

The combined contribution of $105,000 will be presented Aug. 15 at the New Teachers Breakfast to be held at Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall. To accept the check on behalf of the Alliance & Chamber is Board of Directors Chairman and Leader Valley champion Tom Penaluna, CEO of CBE Companies, Inc. , who said; “with this kind of forward thinking funding from Foundations and businesses such as CUNA and Veridian, The Leader in Me can change, in a very positive way, the results of education in the Cedar Valley!”  Representatives from CUNA Mutual Group, Veridian Credit Union, the Alliance & Chamber, and the Waterloo Community Schools will make comments.


About The Leader in Me

The Leader in Me incorporates leadership lessons into Cedar Valley school’s curriculum and everyday language. With reference to Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leader in Me prepares students with key life skills, self-confidence, and accountability.

The Leader in Me, offered through Leader Valley, is an initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.  Through Leader Valley, strong partnerships amongst Cedar Valley businesses, school district administrators and school boards, parents, and the community are being built to make the Cedar Valley a better place for students to excel and become well prepared for citizenship and their future careers.



The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, non-profit corporation representing and advocating for the interests of business, industry and institutions operating in the Cedar Valley. The Alliance & Chamber was created to coordinate the resources allocated to economic development in the Cedar Valley, and provide a platform for shared services wherever possible. Alliance & Chamber programming includes Business Growth and Recruitment, Workforce & Talent Recruitment and Development, Downtowns, Districts, Tourism, and Chamber. This work is coordinated through more than 10 organizations, and in partnership with many other organizations whose purpose is to encourage economic growth in the Cedar Valley of Iowa. More information is available at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com.

ABOUT CUNA Mutual Group

CUNA Mutual Group insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group’s vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner who delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at www.cunamutual.com.



Veridian Credit Union, founded in 1934 in Waterloo, Iowa, is a not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members. The credit union offers a full range of consumer financial services and employs more than 560 Iowans throughout 26 branches. For more information, visit www.veridiancu.org or call (800) 235-3228.


Links to media Coverage


Courier #1

Cedar Falls Times

Courier #2



Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.om, (312)232-1156
Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
Tom Penaluna, CEO, CBE Companies; Board Chair, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
nmhamer@cbecompanies.com, (319)234-6686
Reid Koenig – CUNA Mutual Group
Reid.koenig@cunamutual.com, (319)352-1000
Andrea Hudnut – Veridian Credit Union
AndreaLH@veridianCU.org, (515) 289-5561
Crystal Buzza – Waterloo Community Schools
Buzzac@waterloo.k12.ia.us, (319)433-1800


University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College to Introduce Covey’s 7 Habits

Leader Valley, an initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, is excited to announce two new opportunities for area educators lead by University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College education faculty.

On April 20, 2013 all pre-service teachers from both UNI and HCC are invited to attend a 7 Habits introductory session. Led by Catharine Freeman from HCC, and Teri Lasswell and Mary Beth Rygh from UNI, the college students will be introduced to the world of Covey’s 7 Habits.

Additionally, June 26-28, a 7 Habits Signature Session will be offered for Leader Valley educators at Hawkeye Community College. UNI Grad credit will be offered for the three day session.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Leader Valley Talent Initiative is an effort to make the Cedar Valley a better place for students to excel and become well prepared for citizenship and their future careers. This is achieved through high levels of community collaboration. Through Leader Valley, strong partnerships amongst Cedar Valley businesses, area school district administrators and school boards, parents and the community are being built. Leader in Me is a program of the Leader Valley Talent Initiative being implemented in schools throughout the region. More information can be found at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com/LeaderValley or by contacting Leader Valley Program Director, Melissa Reade by calling the Alliance & Chamber at 319-232-1156 or by email at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

Be part of something greater - The Cedar Valley of Iowa

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees