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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, the city of Knoxville and Knox County will offer an innovative training program designed to strengthen leadership in East Tennessee’s growing Hispanic community.

The LeadershipPlenty program will begin Sept. 15 as a way to provide the first specialized, local leadership training for 30 Hispanic citizen leaders.

The program will train leaders to strengthen the involvement of the Hispanic community in political, educational and social settings where they have traditionally been underrepresented.

The initial class of LeadershipPlenty will engage 30 citizen leaders in a six-module curriculum taught by facilitators who have experience in conflict management, communication, creating strategic partnerships, and group dynamics, among other core competencies.

UT’s Institute for Public Service forged an agreement with the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, a national civic research organization, to bring the program to East Tennessee.

“We are pleased to partner with our local governments in offering this program through the Institute for Public Service,” said UT President John Petersen, in announcing LeadershipPlenty.

“It is important that our campus be part of an inclusive community that is preparing citizens for diversity in leadership. Through this program, we are working together to ensure that all segments of our society can contribute to our community’s greater good,” Petersen said.

Although the program is offered in English, a Spanish-speaking facilitator trained by the Pew Partnership will be involved in each session. Other facilitators have been recruited from UT, Knox County, the city of Knoxville and the private sector. The five-month program will offer six, four-hour sessions at the UT Conference Center.

“The LeadershipPlenty curriculum focuses on issues that are critically important to all citizens of Knox County,” said Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. “By offering classes on topics such as identifying community assets and conducting effective meetings, this program provides opportunities to strengthen the role Hispanics play in building our future.”

LeadershipPlenty is recognized as one of the top leadership development programs in the country. The curriculum trains people to lead others in overcoming language or any other access barriers to develop a more inclusive citizenry.

“While public schools offer ‘English as a second language’ classes for the children of recent immigrants, it is important that our local governments and public institutions reach out to these students’ parents to help cultivate their leadership skills,” Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam said. “The city of Knoxville welcomes this much needed program.”

The Hispanic population has become the largest minority group in the nation. Between 1980 and 2000, the Hispanic population in America doubled to 35.3 million and is expected to reach 47.7 million by 2010. In Tennessee, the percentage of Hispanic population grew by 400 percent from 1980 to 2000, and is expected to grow by 85 percent by 2010. Statewide, Hispanics account for 2.2 percent of the population and 3.9 percent in Knox County, according to the Tennessee Department of Health, using U.S. Census data.

Nominations and applications now are being accepted for the first class. To learn more about LeadershipPlenty, contact Kim Arms at 974-9610 or

Kim Arms (865-974-9610)
Karen Collins (865-974-5180)