Leadership San Juan was established to identify, enlighten, and encourage emerging leaders of diverse backgrounds, occupations and cultures for the purpose of enhancing the quality of leadership in San Juan County. The program was designed to increase the awareness and knowledge base of the participants on issues that impact the County. It is one of over 2,000 Leadership programs in the United States. Each one is distinct and addresses the unique needs of the various communities it serves.
In 1989, Dr. Henderson, Marjorie Black and Nancy Shepherd at San Juan College investigated the possibility of establishing a Leadership program for San Juan County. There were many individuals living in the County who could step into leadership roles if they were identified and encouraged to do so. The Leadership San Juan program was designed to identify and assist talented citizens who wanted to learn more about the challenges facing their community, who wanted to become involved, wanted to help make better decisions and wanted to improve their community.
The National Association of Community Leadership was contacted for information on starting a Leadership program in San Juan County. A presentation on the Leadership Albuquerque program was given to the Steering Committee by Duffy Swan in December 1989.
The Steering Committee approved the curriculum and interviewed the candidates for the first class. Members of the Steering Committee were: Dr. James Henderson, Marjorie Black, Nancy Shepherd, Joyce Donald, Tucker Bayless, Craig Walling, Don Carlson, Carol Cloer, Jim Miller, Frank Reed, Peggy Warren, Conn Brown, Bettie Cleveland, Vern Cohoe, Jess May, Eliot O'Brien, and Shirley Willis.
The first class of Leadership San Juan began in September 1989 and graduated in May of 1990. More than 600 individuals have graduated from Leadership San Juan since it began in 1989.