Resident to further leadership training at conference

Manistee City Police Sgt. Steve Schmeling is looking to raise money to help Manistee resident Sheryl Kuenzer see a few sights while she attends leadership training in Atlanta, Ga., next month. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Manistee City Police Sgt. Steve Schmeling is looking to raise money to help Manistee resident Sheryl Kuenzer see a few sights while she attends leadership training in Atlanta, Ga., next month. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Sheryl Kuenzer wants to learn how to be a better leader.

That’s why she’s attending the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) Leadership Academy at Georgia State University next month.

The AUCD’s mission, according to its website, “is to advance policies and practices that improve the health, education, social and economic well-being of all people with development and other disabilities, their families and their communities by supporting its members in research, education health and service activities that achieve its vision.”

“What does it take to become a good leader besides being well organized and staying on task? What’s the nuts and bolts of leadership?” said the Manistee resident.

Kuenzer, who has cerebral palsy, will join 20 other participants from across the country for five days of training from June 25-30.

“There will be a couple evening sessions, but we start on Sunday with getting acquainted with each other,” she said. “I have three pre-webinars that I need to be in on from my apartment. They’re only an hour long, but that will set the tone for the training, that’s an introduction.”

“We’ll learn types of leadership, what kind we are and we will look at some others who have been in leadership roles and what impact they made. It is very involved.”

Enter Manistee City Police Sgt. Steve Schmeling, who found out about Kuenzer’s trip through talking with his girlfriend.

“I said let’s go over (to her apartment) and talk with her, because I wanted to hear a little more about the leadership academy,” he said, explaining the connection he felt with Kuenzer. “I’ve taken a lot of leadership training in my career here.”

Schmeling found out that Kuenzer will have some free time to do sightseeing while she’s in Georgia, however, she has to cover her own expenses for lodging, meals and attractions. He immediately wanted to help offset her costs.

“I felt it was something we needed to do as a community to give back to this person that’s been dedicated to the disabled for so long and continues to work on this,” Schmeling said. “And she wants to learn new leadership tactics and techniques that she can provide the disabled in our community — and the state of Michigan — with some leadership skills, so they can be that voice, that they can be that advocacy for not only our community but also the people in Michigan.”

Kuenzer’s face lit up when she talked about the places she wants to visit — the World of Coca-Cola and Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta.

“I like advertising. I took a class in college on advertising and that was a lot of fun to learn (about),” she said. “I’m really looking forward to that.”

Schmeling said that he would like to raise $500 for Kuenzer for her extra expenses.

“It’s expensive to go to these types of attractions and restaurants, but we want — because she’s done so much for our community — we want to give that back to her,” he said. “I already approached our City of Manistee workers to see if they would help out and offset some of that cost, and I’m looking to the public to see if they would like to donate to a fundraiser for her so she can go have a great time and enjoy (herself).”

Anyone who would like to help with Kuenzer’s trip, can send a donation to the Manistee City Police Department, attn: Steven Schmeling, 70 Maple St., Manistee, MI 49660.

Following the leadership training, Kuenzer can choose a project to take on; she wants to have coffee hours in various places in Michigan working with the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council, of which she’s a member of the board.

“I also serve on a committee which is public relations, and we are working on the coffee hours and how they’re going to be set up,” she said. “They’ll be set up one way and one way only, and then we’ll find a local accessible area that we can meet to discuss the issues at hand.”

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Posted by Michelle Graves

Michelle is the managing editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3106 or mgraves@pioneergroup.com.

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