Greater Naples Leadership (GNL) is an educational organization whose mission is to provide proven leaders with unique opportunities to learn firsthand about the issues and needs in Collier County and to encourage the use of their skills individually and collectively in bettering the community. We are proud of the great number of GNL members who are involved with local nonprofits or civic organizations–volunteering, serving on boards or in advisory capacities. Our community is well served by these members, many of whom report that they volunteer in multiple sectors including nonprofit, civic, political, faith based and educational activities.
Greater Naples Leadership has joined forces with Volunteer Collier, an internet based program of the United Way of Collier County, to help make Volunteer Collier the single source for volunteer opportunities in Collier County.
If you are interested in requesting a GNL volunteer, we invite you to link to the Volunteer Collier website to place your request. Your request will appear on a special page of the Volunteer Collier website for GNL members to access and consider.After graduating from the Masters Program, 75 percent of active Alumni Association members report contributing a minimum of 24 hours a month to volunteer commitments, which translates into 300 percent more volunteer hours than the national annual average for those over 65 years of age. Additionally, most claim the GNL experience has positively impacted the quality of their community leadership. [2013 Alumni survey]
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GNL’S ROLE IN THE NAPLES COMMUNITY
Like any organization, GNL’s self image and perceived role in its community changes over time. However the core mission does not. The mission of GNL has essentially remained the same since 1999: “To provide proven leaders with a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the issues and needs in Collier County and to encourage the use of these skills in bettering the community.”
Our constituency is the successful and newly retired senior citizens who are interested in getting involved in their new community and in using their skills and experience to improve the general welfare of all. Our role is essentially to be an educator of select and accomplished newcomers and to assist in finding them a vehicle to use their talents. Financially, we are self-contained. We do not seek funding outside of our membership and new Masters Class candidates.
The role of the Community Services Committee (CSC) is to monitor the non-profit and civic groups in Collier County and to assist interested alumni and new Master Class graduates to identify the organizations that meet their interests and that need their skill sets.
Over the last three years, an increasing number of members have begun to advocate that GNL goes beyond the role it has played and additionally, seek an outside public image as an active community leader. What does this include? An involvement in public policy-not candidates-of general interest to the community. For example, advocating on behalf of adequate social services for the County’s low-income elderly population; our focus would be public policy not candidates, legislation, or regulation.
Surveys of the membership in 2015 and 2016 indicate strong support for assisting low-income senior citizens, who have been “hidden” within this rich community we live in. The Board accepted these recommendations and has made this focus the target for GNL’s initial outreach effort.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Code, GNL is prohibited from engaging in any form of political advocacy but is permitted to engage in issues of neutral political education. With Board approval, CSC has created a few new programs that concentrate on the low-income senior population
We have entered into collaborative agreements with coalitions in Naples already involved in these areas.
The principal commitment is a collaborative agreement to work in partnership with the Leadership Coalition on Aging, a broad coalition of the major non-profits and corporations whose focus is to serve this group.
The initial joint project is to promote the formation of a Senior Citizens Affairs Advisory Committee by the Collier County Board of Commissioners. Senior citizens, particularly low-income senior citizens, are one of the few constituencies not represented by a formal advisory committee at the County Commission level. The partnership will continue to advance the interests of low-income seniors in the areas of affordable housing and improved access to public transportation and medical services.
In parallel with our efforts in the public policy area, we are ramping up our involvement outside of GNL in the civic arena. We are scheduling “brown bag” lunches for GNL members with the elected leaders at the City and County level. These informal and off-the-record sessions with County officials are intended as free exchanges between GNL’s members and the officials and have proved to be quite popular. The schedule will be announced in the monthly “Connection”. And all interested members are invited to attend.
Finally, we are working with “Leadership Collier” – our sister organization- which focuses on younger, working executives with programs like those of GNL. We are creating joint seminars for citizens interested in running for public office. The seminars are intended to be “how to” training based on the experience of our members and others in running for public office. All GNL members with this background and an interest in sharing are encouraged to contact Sheila Harris on the CSC Committee.
These are but a few of the GNL efforts to reach beyond our membership. Their scope is specific and designed to complement our main focus on education and community service.
“Greater Naples Leadership has had a significant impact on the Community Foundation of Collier County. Many of our board members, grant committee members and staff are graduates of GNL. By applying their GNL experiences to their work at the Community Foundation, they have been able to improve the Foundation’s ability to serve Collier County. In particular, participation in the program provided them with intelligence about the County’s pressing needs and a better understanding of those individuals and organizations that are making a difference.“
Community Foundation of Collier County
“Serving as directors and trustees for The Shelter, the leadership of GNL members has been instrumental in advancing our mission. These amazingly talented and dedicated individuals have the experience, the passion and the commitment to successfully effect social change throughout our community. From raising funds to raising roofs, GNL leadership has helped propel The Shelter’s mission to greater heights . . . “
Linda A. Oberhaus
Shelter for Abused Women & Children