Graduating into future leadership roles

Molly Shore

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

own business.

“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.