LC Web Design 2019

Leadership Cortland 

Sponsored by the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce and Tompkins Cortland Community College

Selected Projects

2018 Projects 

Cortland County Community Pride Opportunity (C3PO) 

Group Members: Nicole Argyle, Lucas Biondi, Timothy Buckley, Nicole Davi, Beth Dockstater, Judith Gallow,  

Marianne Odell, Matthew Parsons, Andrea Piedigrossi, Gregory Richards and Kerry Steve. 


During the Leadership Cortland 2018 Retreat, the entire class discussed the needs of Cortland County. We discovered an overwhelming lack of information on what the county has to offer, and so identified a need to connect the general population with county resources. This was one area of concentration identified by the class. Another focus chosen by the class was community pride in Cortland County. These two concentrations led to the creation of two project groups, county resources and community pride. With similar goals, the two groups eventually combined to create Cortland County Community Pride Opportunity, or C3PO, proposed as a twist on the TC3 name. 


At an early C3PO project work session, a question was raised: How do you get information about what’s happening in Cortland County? All project team members pulled out their smartphones and started to search. Soon, the charge of the group became clear: to provide Cortland County with a smartphone application (app) that would highlight what Cortland County has to offer. Developing a smartphone app was a large undertaking for just our project group. The county resources project group offered to support our group goal with the information (data) to populate the app. The original C3PO project group gladly accepted their offer, thus establishing the merged project group. 


While researching how to develop an app, we reached out to Megan Eves, a Social Media Marketing Specialist at The Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau (and Leadership Cortland 2017 alumni), for her expertise on how to connect with Cortland County. Abstract Elemental, a software development firm, was also brought on board to guide our team through the development process. Through private and community donations, the app development and launch costs will be covered by the project group. 


We met with Cortland County and City officials, along with local businesses, to discuss the potential of the app. Feedback received from community leadership was overwhelmingly positive. In addition, we have partnered with The Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau to sustain the app after it goes ‘live’ on the Apple and Google Play Stores. 

With an overall goal of having a prototype, demonstrational app developed by the completion of the Leadership Cortland Program 2018, our project group is determined to hand off a functional smartphone app to our partner, The Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau. 



Fund the Future 

Group Members: Doreen Hettich-Atkins, Anita Bryan, Kyle Christopher, Regina Comfort, Michael Consalvi, Shannon Fisher, Kaleb Wilson 

Our team began our focus with an interest in improving the lives and professional opportunities for the youth of our community. In learning about the high percentage of poverty, unemployment and underemployment,  as well as the social and socioeconomic struggles taking place currently in our schools, the group really wanted to work to make a 

difference in the future lives of our young people. This project’s ultimate goal is to bring an in-school credit union branch 

to McGraw High School. This branch will be available to students as a banking location. The branch will also provide financial knowledge and information to students and will also provide an opportunity for students in the high school to gain valuable working experience as they provide the primary staffing for the branch. Because the McGraw area is under-resourced with banking and credit union options for families, it will also provide a valuable service to the community.


Our primary concern was the lack of financial knowledge, job preparation, and social skills of our young people. We explored a variety of options with local principals and guidance counselors in Cortland High School and McGraw High School. We also explored job preparation and job market issues with a variety of employers 

and placement agencies in Cortland. 


Ultimately, our most influential contact was with a fellow Leadership Cortland group member, Marissa Zogg, who is a member of the Board of Education for McGraw Schools. She was able to connect us with the McGraw School Superintendent Melinda McCool. Group member Kaleb Wilson was able to connect with the leadership at AmeriCU Credit Union who were simultaneously seeking an opportunity to develop remote banking locations at local high schools ... and a great idea was born. Our primary partners for this initiative are McGraw school leadership officials and the leadership of AmeriCU Credit Union.


Our long-term goal for this project is that young people and their families become more financially knowledgeable and hence financially sustainable and that the small in-school branch in McGraw becomes a model for other schools in the Cortland community to emulate. 

2017 Projects 


Group Members:  Matt Denniston, Megan Eves, Kristi Hughston, Devon Rainbow, Tiffany Wood 


In looking at our County, an issue our group identified was a lack of involvement in or indifference to local government decisions. This is often seen in reactive engagement rather than true participation.  After some discussion we determined that the best option was focusing on engaging our youth in government, in the hope that as they mature, they will become involved. Involving youth can also lead to their families becoming involved.  


While we identified that there are youth and government classes for youth, the focus is at the state level. There is a lack of understanding  of how local government decision making can affect their lives at home.  We wanted to engage youth in learning how local government affects their lives. We also wanted to provide them with an interactive experience that teaches them about the decision making process at  the county legislative level, while providing resources on how to run  

for office.  


We collaborated with the Cortland County Youth Leadership program coordinator, Machell Phelps, Mayor Brian Tobin and Cortland County Legislative Clerk Eric Mulvihill in our work. We developed an interactive workshop for the Cortland County Youth Leadership Program  that allowed students to experience local legislative decision making  

on issues. Our materials allow the facilitator to have student’s role play a legislative meeting, taking on roles of legislators and citizens as they develop a resolution.  

We have received positive feedback from the Cortland County Youth Leadership advisory committee. The materials will be utilized beginning with next year’s class in November and will be housed with the Youth Leadership Program. Students who participate in this workshop might also bring it to their classrooms either at the Student Council level or  

for a youth and government class. 


Promoting the Physical Environment   

Group Members: Larry Abolaji, Paul Darsky, Peter Leshkiv, Chad McCloy, Meredith Morell,  Kim Roman


At our Retreat we learned that strong communities understand and leverage their physical environment and natural resources.  In our sessions, we were also intrigued about plans for a Sports  Complex Park, Byrne Dairy’s agritourism project and initiatives at Lime Hollow Nature Center. Our project focus became clear:  Build a trail system that connects these properties and provides outdoor recreation and awareness of Cortland County and its attributes.


Our partners included representatives from the Business Development Corporation, Town of Cortlandville, Byrne Dairy, Lime Hollow, the Cortland Regional Sports Council and the Cortland Youth Bureau.  We developed a presentation that showed potential benefits for Byrne Dairy, Lime Hollow Nature Center and the Cortland Community.  


We shared our proposed trail route, broken into phases, using CAD drawings and a Drone video.  

A Saturday afternoon snow shoeing expedition on the proposed trail provided us with more specific information for partners. We were able to see Chicago Bog’s beauty and envision what it would contribute to our plan. We brought our information to a second meeting with the partners and led them through a discussion about needed action steps. Since the Sports Complex completion is a couple of years out and Byrne Dairy is still solidifying agritourism plans, we were not in a position to put the trail in the area immediately, but did complete the planning phase. The trail will ultimately start at the edge of the park, move through a small hill area on the Byrne property and make  its way to the Chicago Bog and Lime Hollow. The partners agreed to continue to tackle legal, financial and logistical details. We gave the partners the materials we developed and many of us will continue to be involved with the project as a Steering Committee to provide guidance and support.


Our team’s passion for promoting the physical environment of Cortland County has led to collaborative discussions amongst organizations and community leaders who might not have otherwise met. We feel this trail can become a hub for community members and a tourism gem along the Route 13 corridor that promotes the physical environment of  

Cortland County, and also benefits the connecting businesses. 


2016 Project 

Connect Cortland

Group Members: Joyce Allen, Heather DeGraff, Millissa Ross, David Rutherford

During the two-day Leadership Cortland Retreat, the group as a whole discussed the importance for a participatory approach to decision

making. We all recognized the need for Cortland County residents to be citizens in action, and we examined several issues that might

affect county residents’ willingness to take on an active role in decision making.

After some initial discussion, our group began to focus on the current availability of information via the internet. When a resident decides they are ready to serve on a board or to volunteer their time, it’s often difficult for them to know where to begin to look for opportunities that might be a good fit for them. There are many great local organization websites out there, but it’s often confusing and cumbersome to sort out what organizations do, who to contact, etc. Use of the internet involves multiple google searches and can be time consuming. After talking with area leaders including the Cortland Chamber of Commerce, we determined that currently there is no “directory” or list available in one spot for Cortland residents to use for this purpose.


To address this need, our group decided to create a simple web-based directory for Cortland County. We call our project Connect Cortland, and our goal was to “connect” Cortland residents with volunteer opportunities that might be of interest to them by making it easier to access information in one place.

The Cortland Chamber of Commerce allowed us to create Connect Cortland as a sub-page on their website. Utilizing a list that we received from the Chamber, we contacted local non-profit organizations to let them know about our project and to gain their support. We then created the Connect Cortland directory, with an eye to keeping the site as simple to use as possible. The directory provides users with a concise list of local organizations, a brief description about each (who they are and what they do) and a direct link to the organization website.


Our hope is that residents will use the directory as a tool to research what is happening in our community, and ultimately residents will reach out to local organizations directly to access specifics about the volunteer opportunities that most interest them.


Going forward, our Connect Cortland directory information can be included in the packets that are distributed to future Leadership

Cortland participants to help them identify opportunities to serve as board members as they graduate from the program. Our group is working on other ways that we can continue to advertise our directory to county residents, and we are excited about the opportunity

we have created to foster community involvement and participation in Cortland County.

Cortland to the Core 

Group Members: Kate Alm, Bonnie Baker, Keith Cobb, Kimberly Corbett, Colleen Nelson, Gemma Rinefierd 


At our two-day Leadership Cortland Retreat, we identified a pervasive problem with the way Cortland County is perceived - we are our own worst enemies focusing more heavily on the community’s problems, forgetting and taking for granted our many assets. We decided to develop the concept of what is great about the county and market a different way of perceiving the area. This project is an attempt to appeal to families and professionals that are either current Cortland County residents or potential residents. We want to convey that there is hidden value in Cortland County in affordable home-ownership, safety, small businesses, and community connections. We want to highlight that we are the middle of nowhere but the center of everywhere - a hub between Binghamton, Syracuse, and Ithaca. This notion is in line 

with the movement in Cortland from identifying as an industrial community to a bedroom community where people want to live and enjoy life. Giving Cortland County a new identity by branding all that is good – a community with an edge, embracing what’s real to create a buzz in the psyche of the collective Cortland mindset to come here, 

stay here, and let Cortland’s warmth draw you in and sustain you. 


The group arrived at the idea that those who feel strongly about the area’s gifts, do so intensely, therefore they feel, Cortland to the Core. We collaborated with local groups that shared in this work including 

Cortland City’s “Positively Cortland” group, Cortland County Visitors Bureau, and SUNY Cortland’s, “Live in Cortland” initiative. We quickly decided that our work needed to target multiple audiences and that our campaign would be farthest reaching with three components: logo development, a video, and an internet presence. This campaign design lends itself for use across entities and businesses (college, hospital, real estate agencies, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) as a tool for their use to highlight Cortland County’s value when recruiting a workforce, enticing visitors, and selling a way of life. The video production was accomplished on no budget by enlisting the assistance of a production student and is divided into categories that identify that our community is unique, connected, innovative, beautiful, and strong. The process of logo development took the message of our group’s work even further by inspiring young minds of local art students to remember that they can feel pride in their home communities, and they all have voices to 

make lasting change. Internet posts to #Cortlandtothecore can be used far and wide.


We believe with this exciting new campaign portraying all that Cortland County has to offer, we barely scratched the surface in the work that could be done to carry this message forward. We hope that Cortland County will identify with the Cortland to the Core branding and take pride in using it to improve the way individuals view Cortland County and to influence people to want to reside here and become active members of the community.


2015 Projects

Youth Warriors 

Group members: Walt Davis, Kelly Foster, Lindsay Lotz, Rick Rogers 


We first identified the need within our community to integrate our youth into our county’s future. Our group began by trying to develop our own mentoring program. After some investigative research, we learned that there were several youth mentoring programs already in existence in Cortland County. We met with the committee that represents the agencies involved in mentoring our youth, Cortland Communities that Care. We then found that the need in our county was not for another program but for mentors to fulfill the needs of the children already involved in these programs.


Programs have wait lists of youth to be served, but not enough mentors. We then met with two of the agencies, the YWCA (Bridges for Kids Program) and the Cortland Prevention Resources,(Youth Assist Program). We reviewed with them the avenues that they had used to find mentors to develop additional methods to recruit new mentors. We then partnered with these agencies, as well as Access to Independence, and the LGBT Resource Center. All the agencies together formed the Cortland Community Mentors. 


Once we had our partners in place, we decided on how we could inform the community that such a need exists. We created a new logo representing an umbrella for all of the individual agencies to partner. We developed a new brochure utilizing our new logo and color scheme and designed a website that will allow interested individuals to contact Cortland Community Mentors online.


For the kick-off of the project, we purchased a booth at the Business Showcase with support from our own 

organizations. Our objective was to create awareness within our local community and to identify potential recruits that would be interested in the opportunity of mentoring our youth. We believe that even with the efforts that we have exerted this year, there is still much work that needs to be done to assist in growing the youth of Cortland County! We hope that what we have done has been noticed by many so that every individual will consider what an impact they could have on someone’s life by choosing to become a mentor. Visit to learn more. 

“PB&J” – Project Backpack and Joy 

Group members: Jason Adams, Jennifer Geibel, Adeline Montalvo, Dawn Norcross 


After a lot of deliberation we decided to change from our original theme of agriculture to a theme that involved working with children. To do this, we engaged the Cortland County Community Action Program, Inc. (CAPCO) and asked them how we could help. Aside from large monetary donations, one thing that Nikki Zeches at CAPCO stated she needed was help with supplementing the Weekend Snack Pack Program. This program is designed to help children and families on reduced or free lunch by providing the family with a backpack filled with nutritious food and snack items for weekends and school breaks. 

Currently, this program serves children in Randall, McGraw, Homer, and Cincinnatus School Districts. Although we learned that she has a great program already in place, Nikki needed some help with resources to keep the program sustainable and allow CAPCO to expand into other schools within Cortland County. Our team focused on ways in which we could gather the resources that CAPCO needs. We made a decision to contact local businesses to hold monthly food drives and deliver the results of these drives to CAPCO. 


Our plan started as pretty simple, but grew as we realized that once we created awareness, many local businesses were willing to help. We presented our project to the Cortland County Chamber during a board meeting, and the results were amazing. From there we created a flyer that was mailed with the chamber newsletter to over 500 local 

businesses. The last two activities that were instrumental in getting businesses involved in our program was attending the 

business showcase as well as the monthly business after hours events that are held at local businesses throughout Cortland County. All of these avenues would not have been possible without the help of Bob Haight and the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce. We can’t thank them enough for their help. 


Once the word was out, we received several emails to the inbox we created for this project. When we receive an email, we discuss as a group who will speak with that business face to face about what CAPCO is doing and how we are helping, and we also use that meeting to set up a month for them to hold a food drive at their location. When 

we have that commitment, we add them to our calendar in order to track when and where the drive is taking place. Doing this allows CAPCO to manage the pickup, something that they requested to be involved in. 


At the time of graduation we hope to have thirty to thirty-five food drives scheduled for the remainder of 2015, and we will have already held four drives over two months. Our group is really excited about the future of this project and what it 

will provide not only for CAPCO, but for children that should not have to go without. As a group, we are all very interested in staying with PB&J by continuing to fill the 2015 calendar as well as reaching out to repeat 

businesses in the new year to see if we can follow the same schedule for 2016. In order for the project to remain sustainable, we have informed Nikki at CAPCO of the email address and provided her the 

credentials to oversee it. From there, we as a group, will continue to ask for help and build awareness within the community.