Civics and Government Day To Explore How We All Shape Government

Leon Fooksman
Leadership Palm Beach County
August 24, 2015

Civics and Government Day for Leadership Engage is September 9, a time when the new class will get a better understanding of how local government works and how all of us shape what government does.

Making the day possible are our sponsors.

We asked some of our main sponsors -- Jack Rice (Class 2014) of Corbett, White, Davis and Ashton; Denise Bleau (Class 2014) of Ward, Damon, Posner, Pheterson and Bleau; and Neil Schiller of Becker & Poliakoff to define leadership and discuss the biggest issues facing government today.

Rice and Bleau are also heading up the planning for all the Leadership Engage program days.

1) How do you define leadership? 

Jack Rice: Leadership is about setting goals and meeting them, and helping those around you do the same. We help communities realize their goals and achieve them. If your actions inspire others to realize their goals, to do more, and achieve more, then you are a leader.

Denise Bleau: Leadership goes beyond ideals and concepts.  It is about action.  We have to step up and do something.  We are living in a time where it is easy to “support” people, causes and organizations with a simple “like.” But real change will not happen without action.  We have to encourage our future leaders get involved at the grass roots level and be an example not just though their words but with their actions.  That is how I define leadership. (Denise pictured left)

Neil Schiller: The ability to listen to and motivate a group of people while having the confidence to make decisions. 

2) What are the biggest challenges facing leaders in government today?  

Jack Rice: Leaders in government are facing many of the same challenges today as their predecessors. Many of the challenges remain the same, but the face of the challenge has taken on a new form. Advancement of technology and rapid sharing of information is something that today’s leaders must grapple with. Decades ago, leaders were forced to adapt to an era of television and radio. Today’s leaders must adapt to an era of social media and drones.

Denise Bleau: Today’s government leaders must constantly strive to balance the concerns of the many, the limited resources available and the special interests of various groups in the community, without losing focus.   Without that focus, it is very easy to get lost in politics, rhetoric, popularity and even red tape. 

Neil Schiller: Trying to keep up with new technologies changing our economy, while figuring out how to create jobs and help those in need. 

3) Why does your firm support Leadership Palm Beach County?  

Jack Rice: Leadership Palm Beach County brings together leaders from all sectors and exposes leaders to many aspects of Palm Beach County. By bringing leaders together and providing a setting for leaders to learn and build relationships, Leadership Palm Beach County promotes dialogue and helps leaders find solutions to the challenges facing our county. Our firm helps communities do the same, and we hope that by supporting Leadership Palm Beach County, members of the firm are able to find unique solutions to the challenges our clients face and help improve Palm Beach County.

Denise Bleau: LPBC is an organization dedicated to building a better community. They recruit professionals that are already motivated and committed and bring them together to connect and learn from each other.  They also give them the tools and tasks required to be a catalyst for real change.  Educating these professionals about our region and its challenges, and giving them meaningful local projects to work on provides a collaboration that goes beyond your typical networking organization. We are building leaders that will take action in our community and grow as leaders for the betterment of their businesses.

Neil Schiller: We believe that leadership is important to the future development of the county and that Palm Beach County has the potential to continue to lead the state and nation in developing future leaders.  

Jack Rice is an attorney at Corbett, White, Davis and Ashton.

Denise Bleau is manager of litigation department at Ward, Damon, Posner, Pheterson and Bleau.

Neil Schiller is office managing shareholder at Becker & Poliakoff.

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