There’s many long-lasting friendships made through Leadership Palm Beach County. Yet, few are as unique as the one between Jessica Cecere and Lisa Johnson.
They met as classmates in 2000, with many things in common. They were both aspiring to jump start their careers and become future leaders of local nonprofits. They were both interested in learning more about their community.
And they were both pregnant -- just weeks apart!
Today, 16 years later, Jessica and Lisa remain close friends, with even more in common: the children they had during their LPBC program year are now teenagers and are members of this year’s Leadership GROW class.
We asked Lisa, now the chief strategy officer for Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, and Jessica, now CEO of Nonprofits First, to discuss their continued commitment to LPBC and what they hope their children will gain from the youth program.
Why is it important for you to have your child go through the GROW program?
Lisa: My son, Andrew, understands what it means to be a leader…in his school, among his friends, and on the baseball field. GROW will introduce him to the leadership opportunities throughout the community—and the role he can play in making his community a better place to live, work and play.
Jessica: Having been a Leadership Alumni since the year 2000, I wanted at least one of my children to have the opportunity to experience LPBC and have the chance to learn more about the county where they were born and raised. Leadership GROW will allow my daughter Avery to not only learn about PB County in so many different ways but also allow her to GROW along with a cohort of her peers.
What do you hope he/she learns most?
Lisa: I want him to see and explore all that Palm Beach County has to offer. I hope he will appreciate the diversity of our community, whether it be through learning about our agricultural impact, how government works, the role that health and human services play, or how his educational experience is not the same one every child has access to.
Jessica: That Palm Beach County is so much more…
How do you feel about having your child connected to LPBC so many years after you went through the program?
Lisa: I am very excited that Andrew was selected to represent his school. Having had Andrew during my Leadership year, it is a full-circle moment. Jessica and I used to talk about them going through the program together, but now it’s happening. Back then, it seemed so far away.
Jessica: It’s awesome! I am thrilled that she will have this opportunity as it is a one-of-a-kind experience.
After completing your leadership program so many years ago, why are you still so involved with the organization?
Lisa: That’s simple. It’s the people. Leadership introduced me to some of the people I am still closest to today. It also enabled me to pick up the phone and reach out to people I hadn’t met, but who would take my call simply because I was a fellow alum. I also believe you get out of something what you put into it and, as an alumni, we have a responsibility to make sure this organization is here to stay and is having a positive impact on our community. Leadership has helped me grow, both personally and professionally, and I am committed to making sure others have that same opportunity.
Jessica: I truly believe that my Leadership Palm Beach County experience has given me so much through the years and I want to continue to engage and give back.
Since graduating from the Leadership Adult program (now called Leadership Engage) in 2000, Lisa and Jessica have both served on the LPBC Board of Governors and various committees, and have volunteered to lead and support many LPBC and community events.