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St. Lawrence Leadership Institute Transitions To Become SUNY Potsdam Program

January 31, 2017

From left, Jo Ann Roberts, Joshua LaFave, Brooke Rouse, Nancy Hess and Suzanne Casaday. For a full caption, please see the release.

SUNY Potsdam will soon be home to a newly revitalized St. Lawrence Leadership Institute, thanks to a partnership with the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.

The St. Lawrence Leadership Institute’s mission is to provide a venue for those committed to the county’s growth and quality of life, where professionals can develop an awareness of the issues facing the county, and dedicate themselves to personal self-discovery and the implementation of leadership skills.

The program will include curriculum developed and taught by experienced SUNY Potsdam faculty, with invited talks and panel discussions featuring community leaders.

The St. Lawrence Leadership Institute program runs from September to June, with meetings once a month. SUNY Potsdam plans to open registration for a new class this spring, and will begin offering the revitalized program in Fall 2017.

“SUNY Potsdam has been a great supporter of the work of the Chamber and the community, and SLLI will have a stable and successful home there, led by a community-college board for the institute,” Chamber Executive Director Brooke Rouse said. “It makes perfect sense to house the institute in a place that has a leadership curriculum—and we are thrilled to partner to ensure a strong community connection continues, as the backbone of the experience.”

In addition to taking advantage of the personal and professional development opportunities presented by SLLI, participants will now also have the option of receiving SUNY Potsdam college credit for some of the coursework in the program as well.

Faculty in the College’s Master of Science degree program in organizational performance and technology, which includes a leadership concentration, will lead classes based in their curriculum.

“The St. Lawrence Leadership institute has very strong roots as a critical toolkit for professionals to develop as leaders and be inspired to become change agents and advocates for our county. SUNY Potsdam has identical roots in our community, coupled with its mission to prepare engaged citizens and facilitate self-discovery and personal growth. I’m thrilled to be a part of this initiative, and look forward to being a part of reinvigorating this critical program for anyone who seeks it,” said Joshua LaFave ’03, the executive director of SUNY Potsdam’s Division of Graduate and Continuing Education.

LaFave is an alumnus of both the College and the institute. He has been working with Rouse, herself also an SLLI alumna, over the past year to bring back the program, along with staff members from both organizations.

“We have been searching for a way to revitalize SLLI, to make it even more relevant and productive—and most importantly, sustainable—so that it can continue into the future as a key piece in developing leaders in our county. I am so thrilled to have great SLLI alumni at SUNY Potsdam, who felt the same way,” Rouse said. “As a participant in SLLI almost 10 years ago, I learned so much about the area, created great networks and grew as a leader. I credit it as one of the critical experiences that led me to stay in the area, and commit my personal and professional life to positively contributing to this great place.”

Alumni of the St. Lawrence Leadership Institute will be invited to a kick-off event to celebrate the relaunch of the initiative in March.

For more information about the St. Lawrence Leadership Institute, please contact SUNY Potsdam’s Division of Graduate and Continuing Education, at (315) 267-4722 or

Photo caption: Staff from the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and SUNY Potsdam recently gathered at the chamber offices to discuss the new St. Lawrence Leadership Institute initiative. From left, they included: Chamber Events/Promotions Manager and Membership Coordinator Jo Ann Rogers, SUNY Potsdam Division of Graduate and Continuing Education Executive Director Joshua LaFave, Chamber Executive Director Brooke Rouse, SUNY Potsdam Coordinator of Conferences and Special Programs Nancy Hess and Chamber Insurance Agent/Administrator and Membership Coordinator Suzanne Casaday.

About the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce:

The St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce plays a pivotal role in strengthening and maintaining the economic health of St. Lawrence County. The chamber’s mission is to cultivate, develop and support Chamber members and other businesses by creating a vibrant business climate that encourages growth and enhances the unique quality of life in St. Lawrence County. For more information, visit

About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

For Media Inquiries

Jason Hunter, College Communications (315) 267-2114