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Leadership Fellows Create Small Business Safety Net | Leadership Anne Arundel

May 18, 2011 06:41PM ● By Anonymous

Corporations and major employers have understood the importance of emergency preparedness for a long time. But what about the small business owners who don’t think a disaster can happen to them?  A group of 14 participants in the graduate class of Leadership Anne Arundel has a message for them—it can happen and you need a strategy if it does.

Leadership Anne Arundel’s inaugural Fellows class, composed of graduates from other Leadership Anne Arundel programs, took on the issue of emergency preparedness at the request of the emergency management offices in the city and county who recognized a void in small business emergency planning. The LAA class is developing a nonprofit organization called “Ready Chesapeake.” Its website will educate small business owners and provide resources to help them plan for recovering from disasters like fires and hurricanes.

Barbara Fay, coordinator of the city Exercise, Training and Outreach program, said she has been working on this partnership for six years. She said Maryland is not as disaster-prone as other states, so people are more complacent. “The biggest barrier is denial and that makes it difficult to get momentum,” she said. She said LAA brought “heft, people and leadership” to getting this initiative off the ground.

For a nominal fee, Ready Chesapeake will provide the framework for businesses to re-establish functions like data recovery, keeping inventory lists, and dealing with employees and insurers. They intend to be a resource center and clearinghouse for contingency planning, conduct seminars and alert members to imminent dangers.

The participants have been working on their project long after their class ended last year. They consult with experts in other communities who have prepared similar plans. They hope to remain involved in the program once it is formally launched sometime this summer. “We all brought diff erent skills to the project and have a different way to interact,” said Marilyn Corbett, a classmate and owner of Back Creek Communications. Although Ready Chesapeake’s website is not yet complete, inquiries can be sent to its e-mail

How to Become a Leader in Your Community

Leadership Anne Arundel (LAA) is a nonprofit center that teaches leadership skills and empowers participants to address community problems. More than 1,000 residents have gone through the programs over the last 15 years. Graduates include well-known politicians and business leaders, as well as many “regular” people who are simply motivated to help improve our community. In many cases, employers sponsor participants by paying for their tuition and giving them time off from work to attend the classes.

LAA holds four classes every year: Flagship Program, Executive Leadership Series, Neighborhood Leadership Academy and now a Leadership Fellows Seminar Series open to graduates of other LAA programs. Each class concludes with a special project that allows participants to apply their new knowledge and skills towards an issue or problem. Some of the previous projects include such success stories as Teen Court, Battle of the Bands and the HeartSmart.

LAA’s most intensive course, the Flagship Program, is accepting applications through May 1 for their 2011 class. For more information, go to or call 410-571-9798.