Leadership Ballarat and Western Region welcomed 31 new participants at its 2020 launch, celebrating 15 years of training new leaders in the community.
According to executive officer Michelle Whyte, the latest crop will bring the total number of alumni to more than 400.
The 12-month program involves people wanting to take the next step in developing their leadership skills in the community, with learning and networking sessions as well as retreats.
It's a world-class program, according to Ms Whyte, using methods from Harvard University and the Kansas Leadership Centre, and people from all walks of life are included as participants or mentors.
"Now, more than ever, we've got so many challenges facing us that are really complex, and we need people to step up," she said.
"We now need people to learn how to have conversations again about really complex challenges, and we need to know people's stories - the thing that holds community together is connections, otherwise you're just a group of strangers."
Anusha Raveendran is one of the participants this year - she looks after 20 UFS Group pharmacies in the IT department, and is looking to find ways to help the community.
"I've always been a very voluntary-minded person, but I don't really know how to start anything, so I'm sure this will help push me in the right direction," she said.
"I've always been open to change and developing myself while helping the community."
Another participant is Dylan Billington, who works for the YMCA in Ballarat.
"I'm here to develop my skills - I'm a relatively young professional so to have that exposure early on is really good, and to give back to the community as well, and be more connected," he said.
"It's really important, in today's business, that networking, so I'm looking forward to that part of it."
Tara Leaf is the creative and design manager at Ballarat's own Haymes Paint.
She said she wanted the skills to help contribute to the city's arts community.
"When I moved here, I found it a little hard to establish myself, professionally and socially, so after seven years I decided to give it a crack to give something to the community and contribute," she said.
"I'd heard about the leadership program off a few people who had also moved here - they told me it was a great way to really get a footprint in the town."
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