In the fall of 2006 a large group of individuals convened at the invitation of the Ball Brothers Foundation to discuss the current state of leadership in East Central Indiana. Those in attendance represented various entities within our community. At the conclusion of the day’s discussion it was agreed that the group would meet again and several focus groups would be convened for the purpose of defining what could be done to improve leadership skills and opportunities within the region. As a result, the Ball Brothers Foundation allocated $25,000 to “seed” the effort.

Led by Andrew Dale and Richard Douglass, a composite of the initial group met over a five-month period and developed pilot curriculum for an offering now called Emergence: Personal Foundations of Effective Leadership. The objective of the multi-week program is to enhance leadership abilities and increase the number of future community leaders in East Central Indiana through community collaboration.


The First Emergence Class

The inaugural class of Emergence commenced in the Spring of 2007 with 27 individuals representing all segments of our community. In the Fall of 2008, the second class was held, again with outstanding support from both the business and non-profit sectors.


Ball Brothers Foundation Support

The development of our organization as a dynamic, sustainable leadership institute took a catalytic step forward in the fall of 2008, when the Ball Brothers Foundation awarded us a grant for $165,000. This vote of confidence allowed the organization to move forward more aggressively. Subsequently, we incorporated, formed a Board of Directors, hired an Executive Director and offered both Spring and Fall courses of Emergence in 2009.


Expanded Programming

More recently, we expanded our impact through the development of additional programming and events. 2010 saw the addition of a new workshop entitled All Aboard: Board Leadership in Motion, a program designed for individuals who want to serve on a not-for-profit board but are unsure where to start or what to expect when serving.

Additionally in 2011, we offered two new workshops, Ingenuity and Fusion. Ingenuity: Creativity and Innovation for Leaders was introduced in the Summer of 2011 and provided participants with an understanding of how to facilitate and enhance the creative thinking of those they lead. Fusion: Leading Multi-Generational Teams was also offered in the Summer of 2011 and is designed to equip participants to be more effective leaders by understanding the challenges, opportunities and best practices in leading multi-generational teams. All three of these programs have become regular fixtures in our annual programming lineup.


Shafer Legacy of Leadership

LEAD-ECI announced the establishment of a long-term partnership with the Hamer D. & Phyllis C. Shafer Foundation at a news conference and celebration at the Innovation Connector in Muncie. This partnership results in the transformation and renaming of LEAD-ECI to The Shafer Leadership Academy.  The announcement was made to a gathering of more than 100 community leaders, members of the Shafer Foundation Board of Directors, members of the LEAD-ECI Board of Directors, and numerous LEAD-ECI Alumni. Believing that our mission is consistent with the passions of Hamer & Phyllis Shafer and the foundation that bears their name, we have established this partnership to impact leadership development in our region now and for decades to come.

We believe it is important that the community learn from Hamer & Phyllis Shafer’s “Legacy of Leadership”, and our organization feels strongly about working to preserve, perpetuate, and repeat their leadership ideals, examples, and results. Years from now when someone asks why the Shafer name is attached to our organization, the response will be: The Shafer’s unique Legacy of Leadership helped to develop individuals who made a difference with their employers, their families, and their communities by increasing their leadership skills and their level of community service.


Transition in Leadership

Richard Crist was named Shafer Leadership Academy’s first Executive Director in March 2009. Under his guidance, SLA developed from a part-time undertaking that offered an eight-week leadership program once a year, to a highly regarded organization offering numerous leadership programs year round including custom programs that can be tailored to the needs of organizations in East Central Indiana and beyond.

Recognizing the continued growth of Shafer Leadership Academy, it was clear that our organization would benefit from a full-time position to maintain existing relationships while further developing connections with people and organizations in East Central Indiana. To fill the full-time role, Mitch Isaacs was named the new Executive Director in June 2015, and the transition from start-up to mature organization was complete.