Why You, a People Manager, Should Send Your Employees to the LEAD Summit! (AND Pay for It!)

by: Alex Villa

Chief Operating Officer at American Red Cross serving Central and South Texas
2022 Austin Young Chamber Board of Directors

Recently I read a blog post from Arielle Sadler, Chair for the Austin Young Chamber LEAD Summit, titled “How to Get Your Boss to Send You to LEAD Summit (And Pay for It).

At first, I thought to myself, “Why wouldn’t a manager or employer want to send their employees to LEAD Summit? It’s a no brainer!” But then it occurred to me that I might be slightly biased since I currently serve on the Austin Young Chamber Board of Directors and have been sending my staff to the LEAD Summit for three years now.

So, I asked myself, “Why do I send my team members to LEAD Summit each year?” And here is what I came up with.

I currently serve as the Chief Operating Officer for the American Red Cross serving Central and South Texas. As a nonprofit we are consistently stretching our resources leaving little to no budget for in-house professional development. For a small investment of a ticket to LEAD Summit, I can send my team to gain invaluable skills and knowledge that will not only help them on their career path but will help my organization as they grow into strong, community-focused leaders. It’s a win-win!

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Alex and a few of his American Red Cross coworkers at the 2019 LEAD Summit.

As we all know, The Great Resignation is most definitely upon us. Now more than ever employees are wanting more from their employers. For nonprofits, small local businesses, and start-ups, those perks aren’t easily available. Sending your employees to LEAD Summit shows you value them and WANT to see them grow both personally and professionally. I say both because not only does LEAD Summit offer presentations from community leaders, successful business owners, and so much more, but they also host sessions that help you maintain your mental health and overall well-being. Which you must admit, after two years of COVID our brains and bellies could both use some wellness!

Again, I said I was slightly biased about why you should send your young leaders to this event, so I decided to ask one of our staff members, Matt Bisacca, Volunteer Recruitment Specialist who’s attended the LEAD Summit thrice now, and here’s what he had to say about it:

“The LEAD Summit offers me the opportunity to learn from industry leaders that I wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to hear from, expand my horizons beyond my current circle of knowledge, and provide me avenues to enhance my professional networks. It gives me confidence to know that my growth is valued by my employer, with the understanding that I can use this experience to find new potential partnerships for my organization while giving me an opportunity to grow my career path outside the organization.”

In short, the LEAD Summit is the best way to show your employees you value them and their contributions, and you want to continue to invest in their success and growth. As a leader and people manager, I personally LOVE IT when my team reaches out for professional development opportunities as it shows a hunger for growth. Therefore, as a leader/manager we owe it to them to feed their yearning to become more than they are today, after all, it’s them who are going to replace us tomorrow!

My last tip for all those out there considering sending your team to LEAD Summit is, GO WITH THEM! Use this as an opportunity to build better relationships with your teams, learn what their passions are and what motivates them, and use this experience to help yourself and your business. Because we are never too old to stop learning, even if Young is in the Chamber’s name, right?


The Austin Young Chamber offers a Group Rate of $125 per ticket when you register five or more individuals at one time. Just be sure to select the “Non-Member” registration type to receive the group rate. Questions about registering? Email events@austinyoungchamber.org.