An independent, non-profit organization focused on community leadership development; activities focus on leadership training, citizen participation, community planning, facilitation, evaluation, and curriculum development.
The Heartland Center for Leadership Development focuses on trainings—specifically leadership training, neighborhood training, and training for practitioners—designed to improve skills in collaboration and decision making.
The organization offers trainings in the form of multi-day leadership institutes, such as Helping Small Towns Succeed, out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as well as facilitates and runs on-site strategic community planning processes and evaluations throughout the United States. Heartland is currently in its fourth year of running a training program specifically designed to develop neighborhood leaders, called Great Neighborhoods! It also engages many community development projects based in its home state of Nebraska.
The organization’s involvement in the HomeTown Competitiveness (HTC) initiative ties back to its roots; one of the first successes of Heartland was its publication of Clues to Rural Community Survival, a body of research examining how small, rural communities can be strong in a changing, increasingly competitive world.
For all its training services, the Heartland Center uses appreciative inquiry and other traditional planning/visioning methods, such as SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), needs assessment, and asset mapping. All methods are hands-on and centered on a philosophy of inclusivity to build a deep system of local leadership. To complement or substitute on-site training sessions, Heartland also sells workbooks, how-to manuals and guides relating to leadership development in varying fields, including entrepreneurship, education, and rural development.