Women2Women - Summer 2018 - 38


United Way's Blueprint for Leadership Program:
A Design for Individual and Community Growth
By Chris Spanier, United Way of Berks County

any of us probably have a
memory of walking into a
school cafeteria and migrating

towards the table of people we
knew, rather than sitting at a table
with unfamiliar faces. Adriane Hoke

shared this analogy when speaking about one
of the strengths of United Way's Blueprint
for Leadership (BFL) Program. "It may be
uncomfortable to sit at a different table,
but you have the opportunity to grow. BFL
encourages you to get out of your comfort
zone, take risks in spreading your wings
and learning more about yourself, others
and the community."

The BFL program is a 7-week training
opportunity for individuals representing the
diversity of our community to develop skills to
serve in a leadership role with an area nonprofit.
Participants are paired with a mentor and gain
leadership and communication skills, as well
as learn about nonprofit board governance.
The program is led by an advisory committee,
and local experts teach the varied sessions. The
program is conducted annually, with each
class consisting of about 12-14 participants.
"I was apprehensive when I began the
program because I wasn't representing a
company, compared to most participants. I
was asked to participate through my NAACP
volunteer role. I didn't know much about the

"It may be uncomfortable to sit
at a different table, but you
have the opportunity to grow.
BFL encourages you to get out of
your comfort zone, take risks
in spreading your wings and
learning more about yourself,
others and the community."
Adriane Hoke

program, and I wasn't sure of what to expect.
My husband encouraged me to take on the
experience and expand my comfort zone. I am
so glad I did because I've gained new skills and
friendships," says Hoke. She credits her fellow
participants, her mentor Steve Schumacher
(former BFL Chairperson) and United Way
with creating a positive experience during
her 2015 participation.
"United Way's mission is centered on making
our community a better place for everyone.
BFL is important as we include and engage
the talents of many different experiences, and
in turn, help develop community leaders and
strengthen our county," says Tammy White,
President, United Way of Berks County. Since
the program's inception in 2013, nearly 75

participants graduated from the program,
with many now serving on committees and
boards of organizations such as Community
Prevention Partnership, Centro Hispano,
Habitat for Humanity, Safe Berks, United Way
and more. Others cite their BFL experience
as the inspiration to continue their education
and to tackle new career goals.
Hoke adds, "The program is needed in Berks
County because we are a diverse community
and that needs to be reflected in leadership
roles." She notes the networking and communication skills as helping her in both her
professional and community work.
Hoke and her husband own a local business,
Claim Adjusters, Inc., and she also created
a new business in 2015, The Etiquette Lady.
Her volunteer work keeps her busy, as well.
She serves on the board of Berks Community
Action Program and continues her NAACP
involvement, along with volunteering with
the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, BCPS
and the Wyomissing Soccer Club. She also
coaches distance running and cross country
for Wyomissing Area School District, where
she and her family reside.
"I loved BFL; I found it fulfilling, humbling
and positive. I encourage others to put themselves at that 'new table' and grow."
For more information, visit www.uwberks.org.

38 Women2Women Summer 2018


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