Diana Nielsen wasn’t Immediately convinced that Leadership Springfield was for her.  So, she did her research, talking to other INB employees who’d taken part. She heard the same thing over and over:  Just Do It.

She Did It.  And today, Diana, an assistant branch manager at our Montvale location, is fully involved with this Chamber of Commerce program that has 1,000 graduates since being established over 25 years ago. 

Diana Neilsen

“I’m not originally from Springfield,” Diana explains, “so I didn’t have a lot of knowledge on the area’s different industries.”

Diana continues, “So far it’s been great.  Actually, way more than I expected.  I get to meet people and learn about what Springfield has as well as discover its potential.”

She especially enjoys learning from community leaders about the paths they’ve taken to get where they are.  In learning about the community and its people, Diana says she now has a better sense of being part of Springfield.  “The program is pretty powerful,” she says.  “And it makes you want to be part of this community.”

“I am really thankful to senior management for nominating me to take part in Leadership Springfield,” Diana says.  “It has made me feel valued as an employee that they would give me the time to do this.”

Participants Take on Community Projects

Each Leadership Springfield graduate takes part in a group project.  Diana’s team is helping the Salvation Army recruit volunteers.  After an eye-opening tour of the facility on Clear Lake Ave. in Springfield, Diana says, “The people who work for the Salvation Army are already doing so much for the community.” 

With more volunteers, Diana explains, they could do more like host additional basketball in the gym. (Each game raises money for the Salvation Army.) “They just need help to run these events.” She says the organization would like to offer their services to the community 24/7. “But they don’t have the staff or volunteers for that.”

Diana’s project team is very diverse, representing health care, dentistry, lobbyist, higher education and engineering. Diana expects this diversity will give their project a better outcome.

Program Still Valuable Years Later

Sports-oriented Aaron Sapp, INB’s vice president of Mortgage Operations, took part in Leadership Springfield in 2010. He still calls the experience a “pleasant surprise.” Aaron explains the format was different than it is today.  Class members had whole day sessions – now sessions are half day -- and Aaron was surprised how quickly the day passed.  “I learned a lot about the city that I didn’t know.  I met people I would have never met.”

Because a number of people in the group were former college athletes, he was on a team whose job was to help the Springfield Junior Blues with marketing. “We decided to suggest working with local students to pick a team mascot.”  Gilly still greets fans today. 

Another thing that’s lasted are the connections Aaron, INB’s vice president, mortgage operations, made more than a dozen years ago. “Some people moved away, but I still connect with them.  I ‘ve even helped them with mortgages when they moved out of town!”

You can check out Leadership Springfield on the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce website.