In 2019, USTA Florida and the board of directors launched the Leadership Academy. This program set out to bring in future of the organization and is doing a great job. In the words of USTA Florida Board President-elect, Phil Girardi “the Leadership Academy is to help develop the next leaders in our organization.”
The Leadership Academy provides participants with an education on USTA Florida, the Foundation and how it operates. “Many volunteers have no idea how much the section does, and the processes needed to accomplish its goals,” Girardi said. “The Academy also focuses on the individual and brushing up on the skills necessary.”
This year, 15 people went through the program and graduated, making them eligible to serve as volunteers on the USTA Florida Board, Project Teams, and more.
2022 graduate, Justin Miller feels more confident and ready to serve on the board now that he has gone through the program. “It covered key topics such as understanding oneself, managing projects, communications, and building inclusive and diverse teams,” Miller recalled.
He added that the program helped loop him back into tennis and understand himself better as a person. “As a retired veteran who played USTA Junior Team Tennis more than 25 years ago, I can say that the academy brought me back to my roots and rekindled a relationship with an organization that truly shaped my personal identity and informed my character through the sport,” Miller said.
Nannette Kiernan, who also was a part of the 2022 program, was extremely excited to be selected for the program as it gave her another opportunity to find her way back into a leadership role. “The program exceeded my expectations because of its carefully planned curriculum,” she said.
To further elaborate on the curriculum, she referred to an ‘USTA FL’ acronym, which read: “Understanding myself and USTA; Support and success; Tennis for everyone is what we are here for; Advocacy; Fundamentals; Leadership.”
She was able to further develop each of these six topics within the program and learn how to take them into the tennis community to serve the state of Florida.
To further elaborate that the Leadership Academy is making a difference in the community, another member of the 2022 graduating class, James Kelly said it built so much confidence and leadership skills for everyone. “Now the work begins, it is time to create an amazing tennis future, standing on the shoulders of those who served before us,” he added.
While the Leadership Academy is still very new, Girardi said it’s already making a huge difference. “The Leadership Academy has brought forward some diverse individuals that will help shape the game of tennis for years to come.”
To learn how to get involved with the Leadership Academy, visit USTAFlorida.com/committees.
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