AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Since 1981, Leadership Amarillo & Canyon has educated and developed leaders in the area. According to Lisa Blake, executive director of Leadership Amarillo & Canyon, it is their mission to strengthen the community by providing leadership development.

For over 40 years, Leadership Amarillo & Canyon has been helping educate members of the community by introducing leadership development, networking, and community awareness to individuals who desire to make a difference in the community.

“It was started, I believe, as a way to bring people together to provide that connection, to provide that education on our community, and then provide that ongoing leadership development and growth,” said Blake.

Blake said every year new companies get involved in Leadership Amarillo & Canyon and typically 50 to 60 people participate in touring various businesses and nonprofits, as well as speaking with local business and community leaders.

“We met monthly, so if you are involved in our program and your company allows you to sign up for Leadership Amarillo & Canyon, we begin in September and we meet once a month, all day once a month and we graduate in May. So during that course, of nine months, basically we are learning about all different aspects of our community and all different businesses,” said Blake.

Leslie Massey, a local insurance agent who participated in Leadership Amarillo & Canyon in 2016 said she is a better person having gone through the organization.

“It gives you the knowledge to have a better understanding of what the realities are in our community and then it helps you stoke that fire, light that fire to go plug in and go make a difference,” said Massey.

Programs like Leadership Amarillo & Canyon, Massey said, help make you a better citizen in your community and aware of what is happening in the community.

“The thing that made the biggest impact on me was when (Amarillo College President) Russell Lowery-Hart taught us about poverty and we did a poverty simulation and we also learned about what the poverty statics are for Amarillo and Canyon and that there are a large percentage of people here that are in need,” said Massey.

Blake added since 1997, they have also been doing Teen Leadership Amarillo & Canyon.

“At the teen level, the counselors in the high schools help us select who deserves an opportunity to participate in our program. These are kids that have an interest in leadership who want to learn about our community,” said Blake.

Blake said that the teen program is at no cost to those students participating.

“Once a year, we have a luncheon, Leading with IMPACT. The proceeds from that luncheon help our teen program and helps us provide a program for kids without having to charge a fee for those kids,” said Blake.

Massey said if you have been thinking about doing Leadership Amarillo & Canyon, do it because the end result is great.

“I think you should 100% do it. If you are self-employed or if you work for a corporation, that is willing to pay the tuition to send you through, it’s 100% worth the investment. Not only do you learn more about being a better citizen for Amarillo, but you grow as a person,” said Massey.

The seventh Leading with IMPACT summit will be on March 2 at the AmTech Career Academy and will feature a guest speaker and meal.