Graduates of the 2003 Leadership Burbank program are already making
inroads within the community.
Mitchell T. Thomas was recently appointed to the planning board by
the City Council, and Lucy Burgdorf, is a member of the city’s
Transportation Commission board.
On Wednesday night at Woodbury University, Thomas and Burgdorf
were among 15 Leadership Burbank participants to receive diplomas
after completing the nine-month program sponsored by the Burbank
Chamber of Commerce.
Following a year hiatus, the program was reinstated with a new
curriculum developed by program co-facilitators Jim Delizia and J.P.
O’Connor, a program graduate. Each of the nine monthly sessions
focused on a different aspect of community involvement, weaving
together knowledge of the city, an understanding of community
dynamics and leadership principles.
Ben Komenkul, who owns Primarica, a financial service company,
said the program gave him the courage to leave his job and start his
“Leadership is about taking risks,” Komenkul said.
City and school district administrators, along with executives
from Woodbury University and the chamber serve on the program board,
chamber Executive Director Susan Bowers said.
“We’re all stakeholders and worked to bring the program to
fruition,” she said.
In her keynote address, City Manager Mary Alvord told attendees
that leadership does not simply happen.
“It can be taught, and it can be learned and developed,” Alvord
At their monthly meetings, participants listened to guest speakers
from the corporate, nonprofit and public sectors, and toured sites
such as Metrolink, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and Stough
Canyon Nature Center.
When Councilman Jef Vander Borght spoke to the group, participant
Michael Porco said Vander Borght inspired him to run for city
council. Although he did not win a seat, Porco said he enjoyed the
Other 2003 Leadership Burbank graduates are: Delene Bon,
Christopher Seberian Carson, John Dilibert, Celeste Francis, Maribel
Frausto, April Houle, Jacqueline Lewis, Linda Matsumoto, Jeremy
Ochsenbein, Alexis Sheehy and Garen Yegparian.